Implementing the government’s K-12 program, particularly the addition of the two-year Senior High School in the educational curriculum, will enhance the chances of getting employment overseas, incoming Education Secretary Leonor Briones said on Monday, June 13.
In a live Twitter feed of a press conference at Commonwealth High School on the opening of the academic year under the K-12 curriculum, Briones said, “Alam natin ang ating mga professionals pupunta sa ibang bansa palaging hinahanapan ng kulang na two years.”
(We know that our professionals who would go to other countries [to find jobs] would be asked of two more years [in school].)
K-12 adds two more years to the existing 10 years of basic education in the country. The additional two years, called Senior High School, divides learning into different academic tracks that aim to help a student choose a career path after college.
While Briones admitted that the country still has much to improve on in implementing K-12, she urged the public to “stop complaining” and join efforts to improve the education system.
“Hindi natin sinasabi na handang-handa na tayo pero tayo ay nagtatayo ng bagong bahay sa edukasyon. Angal tayo ng angal, ngayon may nangyayari na. Tulong-tulong tayo para sa edukasyon. May magagawa tayo,” the incoming chief of the Department of Education (DepEd) said.
In the same press conference, outgoing Education Secretary Armin Luistro cited achievements for the 2016 school opening.
Luistro said, “Definitely our Grade 11 enrollment is more than just 50 percent of those who finish Grade 10.” Grade 10 is the last level of junior high school, while Grade 11 is the first level of senior high school.
Luistro added that 700,000 to 800,000 students in public schools alone enrolled in Grade 11 for academic year 2016-2017. Meanwhile, at least 400,000 students in private schools enrolled in Grade 12.
Luistro said this amounts to “a total of more than 1 million Grade 11 learners.”
Luistro urged school principals to seek out the parents of Grade 10 completers and encourage them to sign up for Grade 11.
“Ang bawat principal na may Grade 10 completer, ang aking huling habilin ay puntahan ang bawat bahay ng mga batang hindi pa nag-enrol,” Luistro said.
(Each principal with a Grade 10 completer, my last request is to go to each of the houses of the students who have not yet enrolled.)
“Huwag ninyong iiwanan ang nawawalang tupa. Sa mga principal, puntahan natin sa bahay ang mga bata. Tulungan natin silang makapag-enroll,” he urged teachers.
(Do not leave behind the lost sheep. To the principals, let us go to the students in their homes. Let us help them to enroll.)
Representatives from DepEd spent the day conducting orientations and visits to several public high schools around the country. Among these schools were Commonwealth High School in Quezon City, Baguio City High School, and Carigara National High School in Leyte.
Luistro called this “the best school opening” based on his own observation and monitoring of media reports.
Several militant groups however criticized the landmark education reform program of the Aquino administration due to low turnout of students enrolling in the Senior High School (SHS) program or the additional two years of high school.
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said the DepEd continues to address the problems regarding the full implementation of the K-12 program.
“The Department of Education continues to monitor and address all concerns pertaining to the opening of senior high schools in line with the full implementation of the K to 12 program,” Coloma said.
“The unified efforts of parents, teachers and communities and all stakeholders will continue contribute to more effective implementation which is essential to bringing our educational system to parity with global standards,” he added.
Kabataan partylist group expressed fear that dropout rates would increase as some especially poor families could not send their children to SHS.
Under the new program, students who completed Grade 10 or 4th year high school in the old curriculum must continue to study in Grade 11 and then Grade 12.
DepEd’s online enrollment system showed that only nearly half or 600 students out of the 1.5 million incoming Grade 11 students have enrolled in SHS.
Luistro, however, said the figures are not yet final and he is expecting it to rise after the first week of enrollment when all schools already encode their enrollment list in the DepEd’s online system.