By Alexander Villafania
QUEZON CITY, METRO MANILA—This June marks the start of the full implementation of the K+12 program that overhauls the entire ten-year education system with additional two years and a precondition of finishing kindergarten for those entering Grade 1.
The implementation was also marked with many challenges, particularly in terms of infrastructure as many schools have not yet completed repairs. In fact, the Department of Education (DepEd) said that it still needs additional 50,000 classrooms and about 1.3 million chairs for the school year.
Some schools also lack enough teachers especially in high school to accommodate the extra load of students entering Grade 7 this year. DepEd also stressed that it needs an additional 74,000 teachers.
Nevertheless, the Department of Education (DepEd) is confident that the K+12 will be a success. Education Secretary Armin Luistro had earlier said the K+12 program will entail a lot of changes but all of it will be directed to making students better learners and to help the country produce more skilled professionals.
“The key to the success of the introduction of K to 12 in schools is keeping the public informed and ensuring that schools are prepared to apply the new curriculum,” Luistro added.
As such, DepEd has already implemented a number of training programs for teachers.
For the new Grade 1 curriculum, DepEd has trained over 3,000 people composed of 1,545 Grade 7 trainers and 1,478 elementary trainers, who will comprise the national core of trainers on the K+12 curriculum.
In addition, the education agency also finished a training program for some 73,655 Grade 1 teachers and 70,227 Grade 7 teachers from public schools who will teach the initial K+12 curriculum beginning this school year.
Under the program, students taking up Grade 1 now will be expected to take Grade 7, otherwise called High School Year 1. By school year 2016-2017, DepEd will introduce Grade 11 or High School Year 5, followed by Grade 12 or High School Year 6, in school year 2017-2018.
An integral part of the K+12 is the ability of students to get certificate of competency that is issued by the Technical Education Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
Students will be given early training on specific labor skills, which will allow them to get employment or be trained further by TESDA if they decide to. This is also an effective way for various industries to acquire much-needed skilled labor upon the students’ graduation.
Students will also undergo various assessments to determine their skill sets. While this should not deter a student from pursuing a course that they like, the assessment should be used as basis for the students to improve on specific skill sets.
If all goes well, long-term benefits also include revisions in college curriculums by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) that will see reduced number of course requirements in college or university.
This school year, the DepEd said there will be 21.49 million students in public schools of which 1.73 are in kindergarten, 14 million are in elementary, and 5.76 are in secondary.
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