Atty. Joseph Noel “Erap” Estrada of PAPSCU has long said that attention must be given to legislation to enable the hoped-for reform of the educational system under our “Education President.” All the energy being placed into the discussion of the detailed ramifications of the reform package “K+12” shall go to naught unless a law or set of laws are passed enabling this.
The draft bill it requires urgently has been the recent focus of COCOPEA’s Committee on Legislation headed by Jose Paolo Campos of PAPSCU. Clear to this committee is that the legislation must be broad enough to allow the detailed content to be worked out after due consultation of experts and stakeholders, but also specific enough to ensure that they key goals of the reform are achievable.
This is what the Committee began referring to yesterday as the “Framework” of the K+12 (= K+6+4+2) reform: Kindergarten plus six years of elementary school plus four years of high school plus two years of career academy (therefore, not “pre-college” nor “senior high school”). Career academy will prepare students for work, entrepreneurship, or college depending on their choices of a career; it would effectively have different streams; it would have (a) a set of general education courses for all, (b) career courses whose content is determined by the career, (c) general education courses for those whose career choices require college, and possibly (d) special courses relatied to the mission of the school. It would be run by the DepEd in close collaboration with CHED and TESDA. It would be roughly equivalent to first and second year college today. It would guarantee employability of graduates based on mandated coordination between DepEd and such as the DOLE, the PRC and the Employers Confederation of the Philippines. (Please see my blog of Jan 11.)
Mapua President Dr. Rey Vea, who represents COCOPEA on the DepEd Steering Committee on the K+12 reform agrees to this general K+12 Framework. Clearly, in the forthcoming meeting of the Steering Committee on Jan 17, it seems imperative that the legislation enabling implementation of the K+12 Framework be urged, first, because there is no news of any activity in this direction coming from the Technical Working Committee on Education even as time seems to be running out for the current 15th Congress, but second, also in order to better guide the discussion on the content of the reform. Some of the discussion seems to need moderation and steering in terms of a K+12 Framework.
Atty. Estrada has volunteered to draft a bill based on the above specifications, which will be subject to the comments and approval of the Committee. Once there is general agreement in COCOPEA on this bill, there shall have to be vigorous activity from the members of COCOPEA and their allies to have the bill certified as urgent by our Education President, and to have members of Congress, ideally the heads of the House and Senate Committees on Education, sponsor this bill. After that, similar activity would be necessary to urge its passage already in this 15th Congress. Here, we would need lobbying support from such as parents, educators, students, the Church, employers, unions, NGOs, and the like.
But what this legislation would also do for us now is set the parameters for the discussion on content. The demands of “education for the global world” can be infinite, just as demands for “preparedness for the world of work” or “readiness to found a family responsibly” can be similary infinite. Whenever in our proposals demands tend to require more and more academic courses, it would be good to say we have agreed on K+12 Framework and not a K+13 or a K+14 framework, forcing our planning to be more strict. Whenever discussion tend to convert Career Academy into just an extension of high school filled with the same courses for all, then we can say we’ve agreed on a Framework where streaming in 11 and 12 is clear. For now, it would be good to say we finally agree that the additional two years in our education system will be run by the DepEd and not CHED nor TESDA, and that we need to get a clear buy-in on K+12 by such as the Employers Confederation of the Philippines.
Within this Framework, looking at the content of 11 and 12, being proposed as Career Academy, there was concern expressed that the decongestion of 1-10 would demand much educational space in Career Academy, just as there was similar concern that the tertiary system would have to push many of its high-schoolish courses into Career Academy. Working within the Framework, we may need to decongest elementary school differently from just pushing courses upward into Career Academy. When the Basic Education Curriculum was revised in 2002 under Sec. Raul Roco, there was supposed to have already been a decongestion of the elementary-level curriculum. So the stress was on English, Pilipino, Mathematics, and Science. The formation of values was assigned to Makabayan, which I certainly have no quarrel with. We need serious values formation. Makabayan, however, is notoriously congested and is still broken down into several graded disciplines. Consider, from the Revised Basic Education Curriculum the following:
“The disciplines within Makabayan can be represented bu the acronum SIKAP, where S stands for Sibika, Sining; I for Information (and Communication Technology); K for Kultura; AP for Araling Panlipunan, Panpapahalaga, Pangkatawan, Pangkalusugan, Pantahanan an Pangkabuhayan” (RBEC, 23). With this state of affairs, where the actual content of Makabayan is different from school to school, and the stated objectives represent more general wishes than targetted outcomes, more stringent planning, without being burdened by having to plan “work” for all the currently hired teachers, may result not only in better English, Pilipino, Math and Science, but also in better values formation. Often, less is more. In values formation, often one guided, real experienc can replace ten conceptual courses.
As we continue to explicitate the ideal content of K+12 through discussion and constulation with experts and stakeholders, legislating a K+12 Framewok is now really necessary, not only to ensure actual implementation of the reform, but to guide the discussion and work leading to that reform.