SENIOR Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is pushing for the passage of a bill replacing the present K to 12 education program in the country covering Kindergarten and 12 years of education with a K + 10 + 2 program covering compulsory Kindergarten and 10 years of basic education with—for those seeking to proceed to professional degree studies such as accounting, engineering, law, medicine— an additional two years of post-secondary, pre-university education.
In House Bill 7893, Arroyo said the failure of the K to 12 program to provide its graduates with promised advantages exacerbates the additional burden on parents and students imposed by two additional years of basic education.
In a country like the Philippines where the poverty incidence is 18 percent, Arroyo said there should be an option for the young to graduate from basic education soonest, after four years of high school, so that they can help their parents in their farms or microbusinesses.
“If they want to go on to a professional education, that is when they can prepare themselves by having two years of post-secondary or pre-university education after high school to enhance their chances of succeeding in college or university and onward to professional licensure,” she said.
According to Arroyo, Grades 11 and 12 were added to the country’s basic education program on the assumption that with the two additional years, senior high school (SHS) graduates should be able to immediately get a job, or put up their own business should they choose not to pursue college.
College grads still preferred
“Unfortunately, the reality of the market seems to be that the private sector continues to prefer hiring college or university graduates over those who finish the K-to-12 program,” she said.
Citing a December 2020 study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), Arroyo said only one in five senior high school graduates enter the labor force, with the rest opting to continue with their education.
“Anecdotal evidence indicates that they opt to continue with their education upon realizing that the private sector prefers to hire college or university graduates,” she said.
“The PIDS study further revealed that in the labor market, there is no clear advantage or disadvantage [among] SHS graduates compared to [Grade 10] or second year college completers. Furthermore, a 2022 Pulse Asia survey showed that a plurality of 44 percent of Filipinos said they were dissatisfied with the K to 12 (K-12) system,” said Arroyo.
Under the bill, the enhanced basic education program encompasses at least one year of kindergarten education, six years of elementary education, and four years of secondary education, in that sequence.
Provided that, there shall be an additional two years of post-secondary, pre-university education as preparation for professional degree studies.
Kindergarten education shall mean one year of preparatory education for children at least five years old as a prerequisite for Grade I, said the bill.
It added elementary education refers to the second stage of compulsory basic education which is composed of six years. The entrant age to this level is typically six years old.
Secondary education refers to the third stage of compulsory basic education. It consists of four years of high school education.
Post-secondary, pre-university education refers to the fourth stage of education, compulsory only as preparation for professional degree studies, according to the measure.
The bill said the Department of Education, the Commission on Higher Education and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority shall jointly formulate the appropriate strategies and mechanisms needed to ensure smooth transition from the existing enhanced basic education (K to 12) cycle to the new enhanced basic education (K Plus 10 Plus 2) cycle provided by this proposal.
It added that the strategies may cover changes in physical infrastructure, manpower, organizational and structural concerns, to include the students’ pursuit of post-secondary technical or vocational certificates, and transitions for those availing of the ladderized education program.
“Modeling for post-secondary, pre-university education may be implemented in selected schools to simulate the transition process and provide concrete data for the transition plan. Said strategies shall replace the need for Implementing Rules and Regulations,” the bill said.
The House Committee on Basic Education and Culture chaired by Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo and the Committee on Higher and Technical Education, chaired by Baguio City Rep. Mark Go, agreed to immediately tackle the “K + 10 + 2” legislative proposal once it is referred to the panel.
“The last two years will not be voc-tech [vocational-technical education]; they will be similar to the foundation of college courses in Europe while they are preparatory to university education…. In my bill, it will be K + 10 because it will [only] be up to Fourth Year High School and then they [students] graduate,” said Arroyo.
Arroyo said she filed the bill in consultation with Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte and with the knowledge of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.