Mary Jean dela Cruz, Grade 1 teacher at the Dr. Alejandro Albert Elementary School, explains the new K to 12 education thrust of the government, particularly the Mother-Tongue-Based-Multi-Lingual-Education Program. VIDEO AND INTERVIEW BY BERNARD TESTA FOR INTERAKSYON.COM
The Department of Education cited dismal statistics in pursuing the K to 12 program. As of School Year 2009-2010, National Achievement Test (NAT) passing rates for Grade 6 and 4th year students are only 69 and 46 percent, respectively.
In the Trends for International Math and Sciences Study (TIMSS), the Philippines often placed fourth from last.
A 2009 World Bank Study also found that employers considered graduates with only 10 years of basic education wanting in essential work skills, like problem-solving and initiative.
K to 12 hopes to decongest the curriculum by spreading the lessons of subjects over 12 years, instead of 10 years.
President Benigno Aquino III succinctly compared the 10-year basic education program to force-feeding: “You are given ten years to take in, to chew on, and to digest the lessons. There is no time for the children to savor the knowledge they are receiving. You just keep feeding and feeding them.”
“The result: information is not processed as well as it should be, context is not a given and thus not applied, and the implications on the greater majority of Filipinos are not explained. Which is why, sometimes, information enters one ear and exits the other; in a matter of days, what has been learned has been forgotten,” he said during the launch of the program in April.
Reality Bites: Additional years not equal to quality education
In an in-country study conducted by Abraham Felipe and Carolina Porio on the Length of School Cycle and the Quality of Education, they concluded that “there is no basis to expect that lengthening the educational cycle, calendar-wise, will improve education.”
Felipe, a University of the Philippines professor and former deputy minister of education, and Porio, executive director of the Fund for Assistance to Private Education (FAPE), focused on the TIMMS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study), where 4th and 8th grade students in several countries were tested for science and math.
For many years, the Philippines has ended up near the bottom of the list for all the tests, the dismal scores used to justify the additional two years in basic education.
Felipe and Porio presented many tables and graphs, but what’s glaring is their conclusion: Some countries with short cycles (years of education) had high TIMSS results; others with long cycles also had low TIMSS results. For example, Singapore and South Korea, with 13-year cycles, did better in the test scores that the United States, which has a 15-year cycle.
They further analyzed the statistics to show for example that a pre-school cycle seemed to be related to better scores for 4th grade, but not for 8th grade. But they also warned against concluding that pre-school inputs will improve competencies in math and science.
“Nothing is known about the relation of experiences during these early periods to competence in mathematics and the sciences, which are the subject of TIMSS. The importance of the pre-school sub-cycle is better interpreted to mean the presence of a strong economy and the value and support for good teaching,” they said.
Finally, they said that, “Many educators seem to expect too much of the 12-year educational cycle. More likely, lengthening the cycle is so concrete a step that it gives them the feeling they are doing something about a faulty system.”
“A friend who learned of the plan to adopt this proposal was reminded of the following Howie Mandel joke: ‘My wife does not know how to cook. So she went out and bought herself a microwave oven. Now, she does not know how to cook -- faster!’
“If the plan is hastily adopted, pretty soon the problem would be how to cut short a poor quality 12-year cycle,” the authors said in the study.