Tuesday, June 2, 2015

K-12: A Step Forward or a Step Back?

K to 12 Program

It’s nothing new. It was an issue I had been aware of back when I was in high school. And, if I remember correctly, I had written an editorial that was generally against it. Whether it was the side I was advised to take, or if I chose to be against it just to be unique, I’m not sure anymore. But, I’m certain it wasn’t because I had some great stand against it. To be honest, I think I had and continue to have a neutral stand in the matter. But unlike before where my neutrality was largely based on my uncaring disposition toward everything that didn’t directly and immediately affect me, my stand now is largely because of the lack of information. Though, to be honest, I hadn’t really done much digging to begin with. But to have a strong stand on an issue of this nature, do you not need to be fully informed first? Like, what is the scope of the K-12 program? What are the pros? What are the cons?

There is a persistent group that has started rallying about the cons of the program with regards to the economy of the Philippines. And, I was tempted to join them, for the mere reason that it is headed by two instructors I have come to respect. Are you starting to see how ridiculous my decision-making process is? Well, people who know how I chose my course understand the depth of this dysfunction. It had something to do with my aversion to wearing skirts, but I’ll get to that some other time. Going back to my point, I decided against my rather irrational choice when I realized that I didn’t know enough to get behind a banner or a microphone and abide by phrases that seek to devalue the president of this country.

What is K-12 all about anyway? The platform of this group I mentioned seems to be swaying or attempting to sway the public’s opinion by appealing to their patriotism. Stop K-12 because the only people who will benefit are the foreigners. Stop imitating the ways of the foreigners. Have some Filipino pride, will you? I’m sure this isn’t how they phrased it exactly but that’s part of what they’re saying. I think.

Money. That’s always one of the problems. So, let’s talk money. How much does it take to put a kid through basic schooling with the implemented K-12 program as compared to the previous curriculum? One of the primary reasons fed to us for the country’s state of poverty is the lack of education, and why are our people uneducated? Because of poverty, of course. It’s a circular argument but it’s true. They have no money to send their children to school with. While there exist public schools, many families still can’t afford to send their children because of the lack of supplies or for the simple matter that they would rather have their children help in earning some income than “waste” time in a classroom. That’s the problem, isn’t it? We are such short-sighted people! Assuming that we all accept that an educated individual has a higher possibility of being able to provide for his family, then, it would be more advantageous in the long run if an impoverished family takes on the burden of sending their children to school now for a better life in the future.

According to the statistics given by the group, senior high school, which is the additional two years of schooling required under the program, would cost a student P19000 to P35000 with some private schools even reaching rates of P70000. I know some of you must be thinking that the less privileged families could opt to go to public schools. But as explained in the flyer I received, most students would have to enroll in public school universities and private schools for SHS since not all public schools have been able to upgrade their facilities to accommodate SHS students. I actually went to a high school where my yearly fees were less than P2000 and to me, P70000 seems too much to ask for mere high school education. That doesn’t come with a bachelor's degree, does it? Because that’s thrice what I pay for my semestral fees in a well-respected and well-known university. Right now, I suppose the question is whether there are more pocket-friendly solutions. Since the government has decided to enforce a prolonged period of education, what actions have they taken to share in carrying the burden of such mandate? Because if you ask me, before approving this, they should have had anticipated the need for upgrade in facilities for public schools. And, if so, they should have had taken measures to address these problems as soon as the bill was passed. Have they? Or, rather, have they done enough? We can’t ask the citizens of this country to simply grit their teeth through back-breaking work just to get their children through proper schooling without providing the necessary support.

Let’s talk about the teachers, the educators, or, as I so fondly call them, the martyrs of the society. One of the primary reason I find myself so invested in this issue is because I was made aware of the massive retrenchments of teachers that will happen in 2016 for the full implementation of the K-12 program. I felt overwhelming indignation for these people who have chosen the path of such self-sacrificing work. It was my sister, of course, who reminded me that K-12 has been in the works for years now. The teachers must have had been anticipating this for a while. Which begs the question, why are these rallies taking place now when the program has been finalized? And, looking at the time table, after a couple of years, the program would demand for just as many teachers to be reinstated, right? We need to look further beyond than just a year ahead of us.

As I see it, we could all just be good soldiers. What does this mean? Well, good soldiers are people who speak up to authority and argue their stance, fighting for their principles. But, when the time to take action comes, they stand behind their officer-in-charge and give all they’ve got. Because let’s face it, while K-12 may not be as good as the government tries to sell it to be, going against it throughout the entire process wouldn’t help either. It’s a done deal, so why not just get behind it and help make the transition as smooth as possible. That or we could keep with the rallies and pep talks and maybe the program’s implementation will be postponed. But what does that do? We’re the only country in Asia and only one of the last three (Angola and Djibouti) in the world without 12 years of basic education. Sooner or later, another president of the country will attempt to bring it into this country. And, yes, maybe the economy will be more stable to handle the program then, but why not just keep pushing it now. They’ve already started disrupting the educational system, anyway, so why not get to the finish line?

I know I didn't really get into the itty gritty details of K-12. To be honest, I couldn't bring myself to read over the materials. I'm on vacation mode! But for those who do want to educate themselves on the issue at hand, here's a good place to start.


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