Overhaul K-12, ACT urges government

·2 min read
FILE PHOTO: K-12 students attend a flag raising ceremony at a government school in Manila, Philippines.
FILE PHOTO: Students attend a flag raising ceremony before singing the national anthem at a government school in Manila on June 2, 2014. A teachers group has called on the government to overhaul the K-12 system for failing to deliver on its promises. (Photo: JAY DIRECTO/AFP via Getty Images)

Citing the recent survey that says more Filipinos are dissatisfied than satisfied with the K-12 system, teachers’ group Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines calls for the overhauling of the country’s educational system.

The group said that the K-12 educational system failed to deliver on its promise of equipping students with the skills and knowledge they need to enter the formal economic workforce without the need for a college degree, and only produced semi-skilled workers for employers to exploit through contractual jobs and cheap labor.

“The K-12 is bound to fail in bringing development. It is a product of a social system and world set-up dominated by foreign capital, and socio-economic inequality,” Vladimer Quetua, Chairperson of ACT, said. “Consequently, it seeks to serve the perpetuation of this status quo and not change it for the benefit of the majority.”

Quetua said that the additional two years in basic education did nothing to enhance students’ competencies in critical subjects such as Science and Mathematics, and the band-aid solution of “counting contact time and conducting remediation and enrichment classes as intervention mechanisms” could just aggravate the students’ and teachers’ mental and physical wellbeing.

A 2019 report of Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study revealed that the Philippines scored 297 in mathematics and 249 in science, meaning only 1% of Filipino grade 4 students reached the high benchmark in mathematics and science.

This “narrow view of learning” that is obsessed with outcomes- and competency-based standards, according to Quetua, “will take a great toll on learners’ and teachers’ mental health, and consequently, on the quality of learning.”

“We have to get out of the K-12 box and out of this neoliberal mindset. We need a system of education that will develop our agriculture and serve the establishment of national industries,” Quetua said.

The kind of education that will work best for us, according to Quetua, is one “that will produce Filipinos with a deep sense of patriotism, imbued with democratic values, scientifically-minded and competently skilled and dedicated to serve the upliftment of our people.”

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments on politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates.

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