By: Naia Mateo
Last September 9, 2015, I had the privilege to interview DepEd’s Schools Division Superintendent, Rommel C. Bautista, CESO VI about the frequent topics discussed about the K to 12 program. The following segment is composed of the highlights of the interview:
Q: For the sake of those who do not understand, what is the K to 12 program in a nutshell?
SI: The K to 12 program covers kindergarten, six years of elementary education, four years of junior high school, and two years of senior high school. Covering all in all, thirteen years of basic education.
Q: Why was the program established only recently?
SI: During 1948, there were attempts to change the educational system to a longer period of time. However, it didn’t pass the congress. Only very recently did the congress pass the bill, making our educational system, the K to 12, thirteen years.
Q: Do you think the country is prepared for the K to 12, with all the unedited textbooks, insufficient number of classrooms and teaching staff?
SI: Eventually, all these things are going to be addressed. For the time being, of course, we have a lot of things to cover in order to be more prepared. But, I am 100% [sure] that we will eventually be prepared to accommodate all these things. One by one, we will be able to handle the shortages. We’ve already resolved the shortage of classrooms for the junior high school, and we are now constructing the senior high school classrooms. We are done hiring teachers for the junior high school, and by the next school year, we will be hiring for the senior high school. Textbooks are on the way, modules are also being prepared. However, there are issues of late deliveries in terms of the learning materials. It’s due to the fact that it had to undergo process of several stages of editing. However, during the school year, these learning materials are to be delivered to the schools.
Q: What was your initial reaction to the implementation of the program?
SI: Mahirap. But then, we can do it. At first, parents [were] hesitant. Actually, some are [still] negative about the implementation of the program. But when we conducted the division summit to explain to them the beauty of the basic education program, this new
curriculum, one by one, little by little, they are encouraged, and they are siding with us now. Although, not 100%.
Q: Are those who cannot afford the fees supported by the government?
SI: Yes. All graduates of grade 10 will be given vouchers. If they enroll in a public school, they will be given 100% scholarship voucher. If they will enroll in a private school, they will be given at least 80% of the amount of the voucher. And if they enroll in state colleges and universities in public, they will be given 50% of the amount of the voucher. And these vouchers depend on the locations. For example, in Manila, they will be receiving Php 22,500. In Rizal, they will be given Php 17,500. [But] miscellaneous [fees] shall be shouldered by the parents.
Q: With English as the lingua franca of international communications, as well as commerce, education, and health, why is the use of the local dialect required in the K to 12?
SI: It’s because several studies show that the use of mother tongue is best during the formation years. It’ll be focused on from kindergarten to grade three only.
Q: Will a student be able to shift from one track to another in senior high school?
SI: Yes. They will be a leeway because of the core subjects. So, if a student chose STEM in the first semester, but decided to transfer to TechVoc in the second, it’s okay. Because the core subjects are the same, only the course will be different.
Q: Will we be able to graduate grade ten and then twelve again?
SI: For the time being, there will be no graduation for grade ten. The student will be given a certificate of completion, which they will use to enter senior high school. Graduations will be held [in] grade twelve.
Q: What do you think will K to 12 contribute to society?
SI: The beauty of the program, especially the senior high school program, [is that this] will develop our learners to be prepared for work, entrepreneur[ship], and to become more prepared for higher education. Ang tawag nga namin, trabaho, negosyo, kolehiyo. That will be the contribution of the K to 12 program.
Q: How are the old curriculum graduates different from the graduates of the K to 12? Are they any less competent and competitive?
SI: The competence of Filipino learners are [sic] at its best, even with the ten years of basic education. However, there are international standards that dictate that the basic
education cycle of a person should be at least twelve years. That said, our graduates then are not in line with our neighboring countries, who have twelve years of basic education. An engineer here in the Philippines will not be qualified as a professional engineer in our countries unless they [have] had twelve years of basic education plus college.
Q: If you could change or abolish the program, would you?
SI: No, because we see that the program will lead to better lives of the people. How? Like I said, we will prepare the graduates for trabaho, negosyo, kolehiyo. At the same, we will also prepare them for international standards.
Q: What do you personally prefer, the curriculum then or now?
SI: Hindi dahil sa taga-DepEd ako, but I prefer the new curriculum. Even if my children were roped in, I’d still say that I prefer the curriculum now.
Q: Do you have any advice to those who are struggling to cope with the sudden changes?
SI: To the parents, to the grade 10 [students], please find time to browse the program, and see the beauty and the benefits that it will give.