There is so much uproar on the changes in the basic education program in the Philippines. The League of Filipino Students or LFS staged a walk-out protesting the new program on the first day of school, still 25 million youngsters trooped to school and began the new school year.
When the Department of Education presented the new program, I breathed a sigh of relief. For the longest time as an educator, I knew how important it was for the Philippines to adopt the K-12, just like the rest of the world. Before the implementation of the program, the Philippines was one of only three countries in the world, with Djibouti and Angola being the other two, to have the K-10 basic education program. With the adaptation of K-12, Philippine education will now be at par with the rest of the world.
Those of us who moved to Canada know how relevant these two years will be to Filipinos who intend to work or migrate to another country. One of the reasons why our education is not recognized in Canada is because we lack those two years of basic education and our university degrees fall two years short because of this.
Of course, those in the Philippines cannot appreciate this move by the DepEd, and their protest is a mark of birthing pains. No one wants change. Adding two more years in basic education is an additional expense, and creates delays in a college education; however, if patterned after North America, K-12 will reduce the number of general education subjects in the first two years of university, so that post secondary education can focus on more content and core subjects. Now, senior high school can take care of subjects like the Rizal courses, sociology and general science courses that college students usually take in the first two years.
My only problem with the K-12 program is that the primary grades, Grades 1-3, will be taught in the local dialect except for English and Filipino. English and Filipino will only be introduced as general medium of instruction in Grade 4. The teaching of English from the very beginning of formal education gives a child a better foundation for mastering the language. I proved this in my thesis for my Master’s Degree. To give students instructions in a dialect in the primary years does not prepare them to master a second language. Besides, the child already knows the dialect as it is spoken at home. In addition to this, not everyone stays in their province, and may chose to settle in another place, one that would require them to converse in either Tagalog or English. Teaching children in one language, especially a dialect, will be a disadvantage to children who are early language learners, and can easily learn a foreign tongue in the primary years.
The K-12 program is certainly a welcome change to the educational system in the Philippines, and will definitely be an advantage for future immigrants to Canada. While it is still on its initial implementation, there is hope that DepEd can still fine tune the details, just like a good lesson plan.