MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Education (DepEd) yesterday unveiled its ambitious 12-year basic education curriculum (BEC) plan that could change the current structure from 10 years with six years of elementary level and four years of high school to a combined Grades 1 to 12 path.
Former DepEd undersecretary Isagani Cruz bared the plan before education stakeholders and the media.
Cruz, an education columnist of The STAR, has been tapped by DepEd to present the plan dubbed the “K+12 Basic Education Cycle” that would add two years to the BEC.
He said the program would address the major deficiency found by other countries in the Philippine education system.
“Internationally, we’re one of only 2 countries with less than 11 years (of BEC),” Cruz said.
“We’re teaching 12 years’ worth of knowledge and skills in 10 years. In the process, we’re shortchanging the students. That is not good for students. We’re trying to cram everything in 10 years,” he said.
Cruz said the Philippines had joined Myanmar in having a BEC of less than 11 years.
Developed and developing countries in Europe such as England have a 14-year BEC, Scotland has 13, Russia has 11; the US has 12 and in the Asian region, Malaysia has 13-year BEC; Singapore, Japan, India, China, Indonesia, and South Korea have 12.
The shift to the 12-year BEC, according to Cruz, would change the current structure where a Filipino student will have to go through Grades 1 to 12, apart from a mandatory one-year pre-school level, kindergarten, before starting on the 12-year cycle.
The plan calls for a gradual, step-by-step restructuring, which for this year will not see any major change yet, he said.
“This year, nothing changes. The grade and year levels stay the same,” Cruz said.
However, necessary redesigning of the curricula will be started to address deficiencies in the content on the core subjects of English, Science, Math and Filipino.
By next school year or school year 2011 to 2012, there will be a bridge year introduced for graduating elementary school students who will not make a cutoff score in a kind of “high school readiness test” to be administered by the end of the current school year.
By school year 2012 to2013, DepEd will add an additional year in high school -- a 5th year-- with the additional year focusing on English.
“It will be called the Year of English,” Cruz said.
By school year 2015 to 2016, Cruz said the Grade 1 to 12 would have been fully implemented.
Under the K+12 plan, Grades 1 to 7, for school children aged six to 12 years old will be the elementary level. Grades 8 to 10 will be the Junior High School Level.
Grades 11 to 12 will be the “specialized High School” or “Junior College.”
At the end of the 12-year BEC, Cruz said that high school graduates are expected to be employable.
Cruz said that at the end of the 12-year cycle, a student would be 18 years of age who can be legally employed or could start their own businesses.
“Tertiary education will no longer be remedial and will conform to international standards,” Cruz added.
While the plan would add two years and make the education phase longer, Cruz said that this is necessary.
“Let’s not solve the problems of DepEd in a hurry,” Cruz said.
Cruz said yesterday’s presentation was the start of a consultation process of the DepEd in its effort to get feedback on the plan from education stakeholders.
Cruz, however, gave assurance that DepEd was bent on implementing the plan, considering that adding two years in the BEC was a campaign promise of President Aquino.
Yesterday’s presentation before the media already indicated conflicting positions on the plan.
Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, former chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Education formed by the previous administration to implement reforms on the education sector, opposed the program.
Nebres said that instead of moving to add two years, DepEd should first address the deficiencies in the current 10-year BEC.
“Fix the problem in the 10 years BEC. This all sounds very nice but when you get down to the ground, it does not make sense,” Nebres said.
“Keep your solutions simple. Look at the problems in the 10 years and fix those problems first,” he added.
Nebres said the move would be a distraction to DepEd.
“The problem with this is it will distract DepEd. Please leave the basic system alone. There are other pressing problems to attend to,” he said.
Peter Perfecto, executive director of the Philippine Business for Education (PBED) expressed support for the program.
“We want the additional two years of education and we want it in the BEC,” Perfecto said.
PBED, an organization composed of corporate executives, has been advocating for reforms in the education sector.
Led by former ambassador Ramon del Rosario, the group said the education sector should reform itself so it can produce graduates that are highly qualified to join the workforce.