K to 12: 80-hour subject on disaster readiness ‘too much’?

Jee Y. Geronimo

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K to 12: 80-hour subject on disaster readiness ‘too much’?


Senator Pia Cayetano asks: Why does the disaster readiness and risk reduction subject have the same hours as other mathematics and science subjects?

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Pia Cayetano is asking the Department of Education (DepEd) to justify allocating 80 hours per semester on a disaster readiness and risk reduction subject under the academic track’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) strand.

“Yes, we live in one of the most disaster-prone regions in the world, but again, I don’t know, I have my doubts that we would have to spend 80 hours on disaster risk,” Cayetano said during a Senate committee hearing on preparations for K to 12 on Tuesday, April 14.

Her main contention is on how the subject has the same hours as other mathematics and science subjects, when a 2008 law already mandates schools to teach environmental awareness at all levels.

“I just feel that for a country that says we have so much catching up to do with STEM, that’s… 80 hours of disaster risk,” the chairperson of the committee on education, arts, and culture said.

With the signing of the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013, two years have been added to the basic education system of the Philippines. The first batch of students under the program will enter senior high school’s grade 11 in 2016, and grade 12 in 2017. (INFOGRAPHIC: 10 things about K to 12)

Every senior high school student will take 15 core subjects with content and competencies common in any track, 7 other contextualized track subjects with competencies common in any track, and specialized subjects under their chosen track and strand. (READ: DepEd proposes liberal arts strand for senior high school)

‘Integrative proficiency’

The 80-hour subject on disaster readiness and risk reduction will translate to 3 sessions a week, 1 hour per session, for a whole semester, according to Cayetano.

DepEd K to 12 coordinator Elvin Uy explained that it is a core subject under the STEM strand, but students in the general academic strand can also take it either as part of their specialized subjects or as an elective.

Commissioner Cynthia Bautista of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) said one way of looking at the subject is beyond environmental awareness; it is about “integrative proficiency, not just knowledge but applying knowledge in a particular context.”

She added, however, that this is her personal take and not CHED’s position on the matter.

Cayetano is also asking DepEd on how the 80 hours will be defined. While she feels an 80-hour subject on disaster risk is “not justified,” she is not totally against it. (READ: What senior high school tracks fit your locality?)

Question siya. It’s up to them to justify it. ‘Di ko naman sinasabi na tanggalin nila, sinasabi ko lang ipaliwanag,” she added. (It’s a question. It’s up to them to justify it. I’m not saying that they should remove it, I’m just saying they should explain)  – Rappler.com

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Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.