Towards Legislating K+12: Essential Elements

On Wednesday, Jan 12, 2010, there will be a special meeting in Casino Español called by the Legislative Committee of the COCOPEA to try to specify the elements necessary for the legislation necessary for K+!2. In an earlier blog (Jan 4) I suggested that HB 2182 – the “Twelve Year Basic Education Curriculum Act of 2011” – already filed by Rep. Eulogio “Amang” Magsaysay might be all that is necessary in legislation for the educational reform we envisage, leaving it to the DepEd to specify its content. Members of the committee, however, felt that the bill needed more specification.

From the discussion so far on K+!2, the following would be some of the elements I would recommend for enactment into law:

We are taking about educational reform that shall primarily affect basic education. Two years are to be added to today’s 10 years of basic education. It is the Department of Education that shall govern basic education. This shall include:

Compulsory Kindergarten (K) for all.

Six years of compulsory elementary education for all (6).

Four years of compulsory high school for all (4).

Two years of Career Academy for all (2).

This would account for Kindergarten plus twelve years: K+6+4+2, or K+12.

The curriculum would need to be “enhanced” – improved in content over the curriculum for ten years of elementary and high school today. The improvement should better prepare the pupils for life or for college after 12 years of basic education. It should also arrest the alarming drop-out rate in elementary years; today only 90% of the population go to school at all; only 43% of these finish high school. Groups are working on this enhancement.

The Career Academy would account for the two new years added to basic education. The choice of the term, “Career Academy,” and not “Senior High School” nor “Pre-College” is deliberate. It is not just “more of the same” of what the students learned in high school, therefore “Senior High School;” it is not a learning experience that is designed to ultimately mature into college, therefore “Pre-College.” Senior Academy will be a learning experience sui generis for youths in their 17th and 18th years of life where they choose a career and commit themselves to the educational and formational requirements of that career. Graduates should also simultaneously be fundamentally prepared to found a family responsibly and contribute to the common weal of society.

The curricula within the Career Academy will depend on the career preparation the Career offers. This is set of many careers like caregiving, call center representatives, entrepreneurship, office management, sales management, business administration, engineering, law, medicine. Preparation for some careers will terminate after two years; preparation for other careers will lead to college.

Negotiations will be made with various organizations of employers to welcome qualified graduates of Career Academy for work.

The Career Academy will be defined as a learning institution equivalent to the present first two years of college. Many of its teachers will come from college, where a new Tertiary General Education program will cause many teachers of such as English, Pilipino, Mathematics and Science to move into Career Academy. When they move, it will be a lateral move from college into a sui generis institution, not a demotion from college into a high school or pre-college. Levels of earning should remain the same after the move.

Of course, a lot of planning is necessary for the curricula of the Career Academy; I say curricula because different careers will demand different curricula, and those going on to college will require a curriculum different from those not going to college. Among those going to college, electives may allow for higher mathematics/science or for higher levels of languages and literature.

One might have an idea of how a Career Academy curriculum might look in my blog, “Career Academy with Entrepreneurship” published last Jan. 6. Room must be made for general education, career education, and – for certain types of private schools – mission-related education. Among the subjects belonging to general education for all is labor education; among the subjects belonging to mission related courses is “Christian Vocation: Marriage and Family Life.”

A final note on something that defies legislation: the pedagogical thrust of the Career Academy must empower the student to responsibility and autonomy in life. There must be no room for mere copying from blackboards, mere recitation from rote, mere memorized theories that do not stand the test of reality. The students are not to be babied, but respected as citizens soon to “go it alone.” Career Academy, then, must take responsibility for developing in the pupil not only the skills set necessary for work, but also independence, initiative, skills and practical street-smartness, even as it forms respect for authority and elders and at least a commitment to do in life what it right and just.


About Joel Tabora, S.J.

Jesuit. Educator
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