Too early to say whether K to 12 effective or not – DepEd official

MANILA, Philippines – It is too early to say if the implementation of the K to 12 program under the  Enhanced Basic Education Act has been effective, specifically when it comes to graduate employability, Education Undersecretary Tonisito Umali on Monday, October 21. 

“We’re still collating information to see whether senior high school (SHS) graduates who were expected to work post-graduation indeed ended up employed. It’s too early to say,” Umali said in Filipino. (READ: INFOGRAPHIC: 10 things to know about K to 12)

He said it is still difficult to say, given that the first batch of SHS graduates only finished the mandatory 12 years of basic education in March 2018. 

The K to 12 program stems from the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013 signed into law by President Benigno Aquino III.

It aims to provide Filipino students with a 12-year education cycle after kindergarten. The Philippines is the last country in Asia, and one of only 3 countries worldwide (the other two being Angola and Djibouti), with a 10-year pre-university cycle. 

In June 2016, the senior high school program was implemented nationwide, even exceeding enrollment expectations despite fears that dropout rates would soar.

Umali added that the Free Tertiary Education Act may also have attracted more students to pursue higher studies. 

“The number of students pursuing higher education increased since the Free Tertiary Education Act. It isn’t like before, when only half of high school graduates pursued college education when K to 12 was not implemented yet. We still need to study this increase in relation to the K to 12 program,” Umali added in Filipino.  

Even so, the Department of Education (DepEd) supports calls to review the effectiveness of the K to 12 program. This comes after House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said Sunday, October 20, that many schools lack equipment and have issues that need to be addressed. 

In a statement Monday, DepEd said it welcomes the plan to review the program. 

“Congress and DepEd have worked closely together since the previous budget hearings to address the issues of the K to 12 Program. A dedicated review session will provide an appropriate venue to comprehensively discuss concerns about the program and plot out corresponding solutions,” the DepEd statement read. 

The DepEd has an allocation of P551.7 billion in the proposed 2020 budget. This is P20.2 billion more than 2019’s P531.5 billion.  

The House of Representatives, in its realignment of the proposed budget, added P850 million for DepEd, with P650 million exclusively for the improvement of the K to 12 program. 

“DepEd hopes the outcome of the review will spur renewed commitment and initiatives among lawmakers, advocates, and other stakeholders in aid of realizing the K to 12 program’s overall goal – hone holistically developed Filipino learners with 21st century skills," the education department added.

Even with the call from Congress, DepEd said it regularly does regular reviews of aspects of the K to 12 program. In August 2018, the agency looked particulary into the development of so-called 21st century skills – media literacy and communication skills – among students from kindergarten to SHS.

The DepEd last year also said it would review its technical vocational livelihood courses and additional courses it plans to offer in senior high school to respond to needs of the business industry and communities. – Rappler.com