Manila, Philippines --- President Benigno S. Aquino signed into law yesterday the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013 which formally mandates Kindergarten and a 12-year basic education curriculum, institutionalizing many of the reforms already being undertaken by the Department of Education (DepEd).
The law makes kindergarten education mandatory for five-year olds and adds two more years to the basic education curriculum. The new 12-year basic education curriculum comprises six years of elementary education (Grades 1 to 6), four years of junior high school (Grades 7 to 10) and two additional years of senior high school (Grades 11 and 12).
"The additional two years after fourth year high school will further hone the skills and talents of students on their chosen career path in arts and sports, technical vocational, entrepreneurship or tertiary education," Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Armin Luistro said.
"We are very, very happy with this development because it would really ensure the implementation of the education reform we have been pushing for," Luistro said in an interview. The law, a product of extensive consultations with multiple stakeholders, provides DepEd with the legislative support to continue the reforms it has started and intends to pursue in close coordination with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), he said.
The new law is also seen as "an avenue for the incoming members of the Senate to take up reforms in education as part of their legislative agenda," Sen. Ralph G. Recto, a Liberal Party (LP) stalwart, said.
As principal author of the Senate version of the "K to 12" bill, Recto said a longer learning period would keep the country at par with other countries and effectively improve the country's quality of education.
He pointed out that he wrote into the legislative measure the use of "mother tongue" as the medium of instruction for lower years to better facilitate and expedite learning. He cited latest global studies which confirmed that learning through the use of "mother tongue" results in "quicker comprehension." Scientific studies and global trends point to multi lingual based education using the mother tongue as becoming the standard teaching method for basic literacy all over the world.
The law mandates the use of mother tongue from pre-school up to Grade 6 level. The mother tongue policy was also endorsed by the private and public educators.
Meanwhile, at the DepEd, Luistro said they are doing all the necessary preparations for the full implementation of K to 12 in 2016. While the SHS will be fully implemented in 2016, it is being piloted in 30 schools since 2012 and the first batch of SHS graduates from these pilot schools are expected next year.
"By June, this coming school year 2013-2014, the curriculum for Grade 2 and Grade 8 will be introduced," he said.
The Kindergarten Law was passed in January 2011 and universal kindergarten was institutionalized in June that year.
Luistro said that this development draws DepEd "even closer to our goal of a reformed basic education system that offers an enhanced curriculum to better equip our learners."