The Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013 or Republic Act No. 10533 was signed into law on May 15, 2013. It mandated the implementation of the K to 12 Basic Education Program, the new learning program which was begun by the Department of Education as early as 2011 in the effort of making a change towards a better Philippines.
Breaking free from the 10-year basic education program, the K to 12 Program is said to be the boldest reform that the Philippine Government made in the educational system in its attempt to revolutionize the educational system amidst challenges for more than 70 years. Labeled as the “global standard,” the K to 12 Program require that aside from Grades 1 to 6 and four years of junior high school (Grades 7 to 10), the student needs to complete two years of senior high school (Grades 11 to 12) before he is admitted in college.
While educational reformists assert that actualizing the K-12 system in the Philippines would result in more young Filipinos equipped with the necessary knowledge, skills and disposition to enter the workforce, many find it disagreeable.
Critics were quick to cite that the main problems in the Philippines which the government needs to resolve are the lack of school and classrooms, the shortage of educators, and the want of appropriate instructional materials and school equipment, among others. Students complain of the extra years in school and parents have seen them as additional expenses.
Proponents of the K-12 program, however, maintain that the new system obtained bases on research from other countries and the local successes and failures. Our own educational system was carefully studied and designed by both private and public education stakeholders. It is seen as a step to make the Philippine education at par with global standards. But was not seen as a quick fix to an educational system ill regarded to have been stuck with the laggard status of the 10-year basic education where, at present, only the countries of Djibuoti and Angola continue to get stuck with.
DepEd’s K to 12 Program and the BNHS Experience
With the advent of Republic Act No. 10533 passed in 2013, the Department of Education (DepEd) rolled out the enhanced curriculum for Grades 11 and 12 in School Year 2016-2017 for the Senior High School (SHS) program. This is true for the Bukidnon National High School (BNHS).
The challenges we faced then at BNHS, didn’t hinge so much on whether we should or shouldn’t, but how we can make it work.
Despite the lingering apprehensions and negative notions, the BNHS braced for the changes and the gargantuan tasks ahead. The challenges then were: How can we bring to fruition the K to 12 vision of progressive and transformative education to reality? We knew that the SHS Program would be quite a challenge but, we believed that was DOABLE.
The initial wave of challenges came with students confused on choosing the desired programs, the lack of classrooms and infrastructure to accept two more grade levels, the lack of competent teachers to handle subjects they did not major on, the non-availability of learning materials for the curriculum, and the seeming negativity of stakeholders that do not regard the program with confidence.
Yet, the BNHS Administration and Teaching Workforce found a way to surpass all these.
Senior High School, BNHS offered four (4) tracks namely, Academic track divided into four strands – Accountancy, Business and Management (ABM) Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM); and Humanities and Social Sciences (HUMSS), and General Academic Strand (GAS), Technical Vocational Skills (TVL) track with strands Cookery, Electrical, Agricultural Crops and Dress-making, Sports track, and Arts & Design track.
To achieve the ideal class size and teacher-student ratio as well as address the classroom shortage, two classes were introduced in shifts: one for the 5:30am to 11:30nn class, and another for the 1:30nn to 7:30pm. Learning materials were made available through sharing of resources, for both the teachers and students who likewise tapped the internet for introductory learning and further studies. The teachers doubled their efforts in obtaining hands-on, experiential, relevant instruction and learning through seminars and trainings made available.
The implementation of the SHS Program may have seemed daunting, but with the concerted and collaborative efforts of the BNHS faculty and administration with the DepEd, the support of the parents, the cooperation of the students and the community, BNHS SHS was able to rise above the challenges. Come April 2018, the BNHS SHS would be proud to present its first batch of graduates, the pioneers of K-12 Program.
Since the implementation of the program, the Department of Education has made substantial progress in developing the curriculum and providing the necessary infrastructure by addressing the backlog of classrooms; and, the shortage of teachers was solved. Conferences were held for the academic community, the policy implementers, education advocates and stakeholders which became the venue to tell the story of triumphs in implementing the basic education reform and how the interventions and innovations were implemented to serve learners better. We believe in our ability to overcome challenges to improve the quality of Philippine education. Yet there remains legitimate concerns that calls for immediate and practical solutions.
Are we ready to move our education system to the world-class standard? May we find the answer to the question with esteemed confidence.
Che Guevarra, a Cuban revolutionary leader once said “in this world, we need people who work more than criticize, who construct more than destroy, who make fewer promises and deliver more solutions, who expect to give more than they receive, and who say it’s better today than tomorrow.”
BNHS SHS Batch 2018 is privileged to become a relevant part of this remarkable history of reform in the Philippine educational system.
It is the testimony of how the community weathered the challenges to obtain a reform in basic education. Our SHS pioneering batch is a noble exhibit that the K-12 Program is indeed doable, a manifestation of our concrete support of attaining global standards by revolutionizing the educational system: despite the challenges, despite the odds.
BLESSYLE L. NONAN, LPT
Teacher II – Senior High School
Bukidnon National High School