Sunday Essays: New education system to face problems on its first few years

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Saturday, February 22, 2014

THE government might have realized that necessary steps must be taken in order to improve the education system in the country, leading them to make and consider some changes to keep up with the other countries.

First, there was that bold move of implementing the K-12 program where basic education will last for 12 years instead of the traditional 10 years. This covers Kindergarten and 12 years of basic education (six years of primary education, four years of Junior High School, and two years of Senior High School). According to the Department of Education (DepEd), it aims to provide enough time for mastery of concepts and skills, develop lifelong learners, and prepare graduates for tertiary education, middle-level skills development, employment, and entrepreneurship.

And just recently, there were reports about Malacañang being open to studying proposals to change the school calendar. However, the Congress still has the final say on the matter.

“The government is open to studying the proposal to change the schedule of the opening of classes for colleges and universities from June to September in preparation for the integration of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) members that will start in 2015,” Communications Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma, Jr. said.

This means that the academic calendar would run from August to May or September to June instead of June to March. This was intended to copy the academic calendar of most countries in order to attract foreign students to study in the Philippines and assist the enrollment abroad of Filipino students and teachers.

This will also allow Philippines a greater synchronization with the ASEAN, Northeast Asian (China and Korea), and American and European universities since a lot of training programs and activities of summer institutes happen in June and July in which, in the proposed academic calendar, these months don’t have classes.

Furthermore, classes will extend up to April and May when there are lesser chances of rain. Thus, there are lesser chances of postponed classes as well.

At present, five universities - University of the Philippines (UP) system, Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), De La Salle University (DLSU), University of Sto. Tomas (UST), and Adamson University - have already expressed their plans to adapt the proposed academic calendar.

Looking at these, it can be seen how the education system in the country is intended to be patterned after the education system of other countries. This may be triggered by the fact that Philippines is the only country left in Asia with a 10-year basic education. Also, Philippines is the only ASEAN member that starts the academic year in June.

Granting that the change in academic calendar would be implemented, the education system in the country would be similar to the foreign ones.

There are factors that may affect the effectiveness and success of the education system being modeled after other countries, making the changes possible failures. Moreover, these possible failures may happen for the first few years of its implementation.

With the K-12 program, there is still that concern regarding the additional financial burden on parents and students who are already struggling to finish the current curriculum.

“The K-12, unlike what Aquino is promising, is not a solution to education and employment woes. Instead, it will further worsen and deepen the problems,” Vencer Crisostomo, Anakbayan national chairperson, said.

He added that only 14 out of 100 at present finish the education cycle up to college. Thus, additional years will mean additional drop-outs.

The lack of facilities and resources is also an issue since adding two years to the basic education would also mean more textbooks, classrooms, and chairs. Thus, this can be a factor why the new education system may fail.

According to the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), public school system’s existing shortages were still not addressed and have worsened by the rushed implementation of the K-12 program. During the opening of classes last June, the massive shortages in textbooks, chairs and classrooms were evident most especially in Metro Manila as DepEd data showed that there were 19,579shortages in classroom, 60 million shortages in textbooks, 2.5 million shortages in chairs and 80, 937 shortages in water and sanitation facilities. In Metro Manila, Cebu, and Davao, 770 schools were overcrowded.

As regards the change in academic calendar, there can be that problem about having regular classes during the hottest months of the year (April and May). Moreover, public schools have no air-conditioning system, giving potential rise to health problems in this season.

DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro also said, “Summer is when traditional celebrations like Holy Week, Flores de Mayo, and town fiestas are held so these might affect attendance.”

He even added that moving the school opening does not necessarily solve the problem on flooding during the typhoon season as weather patterns keep changing.

With this, it can be seen how possible that the new education system may encounter a lot of problems during its first few years since there’s the need to adjust to the changes that have been and will be made.

Furthermore, it involves millions of people who have to adapt to these changes, which can be difficult and may take time to occur. Kathleen Rose T. Pate


Sunday Essays are articles written by students of the Ateneo de Davao University for their journalism class.

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