I came home late last night. I had a nice time in a graduation celebration, courtesy of my cousin who just finished Grade 12. Maybe other invitations would come along, from former students perhaps. They’re the second batch of Grade 12 or senior high school graduates now. It’s good that the public have become accustomed to referring to the levels as Grade 7, Grade 8, Grade 9, from the former first year, second year, third year. Consequently, if you use the latter, it would automatically refer to the college levels. Along with this acclimatization has been the dying down of the mass of protests against the changes brought about by the K to 12 Curriculum in the Philippines. We don’t hear so much complaints against the Mother Tongue learning area or the additional senior high school levels; or have they just been kept on the down low, that the shouts have been reduced to murmurs – toned down but existent nonetheless.
I visited my barber a couple of weeks ago and during my vacant time of waiting for my turn, and him shedding the hair of the client currently on the chair, asked him about his son, in the course of our conversation, he let out his annoyance on the senior high school extension because his son who turned out to be a college freshman, should have been a junior (a year shy from graduation); had it not been for Grade 11 and Grade 12. I kept mum; thinking to myself that the argument is not worth it. But he was relatively cool about it. He was on that “bad trip but I’m going to go with it” feeling; rather than that “this world is messed up, so I’m going to burn it down” sentiment.
A week ago, on a late night coffee night cap on a fast food place in downtown, a friend was indignantly expressing frustrations over reports of Grade 12 graduates not getting employment; in effect, pointing to the inefficiency of the senior high school program to provide a shorter time of readiness for employment. Another friend on the table reasoned that it would naturally take time for policies to fully gain intended results. But the complainant wouldn’t have anything of it, and insisted on his disappointment and embarrassment on defending the K to 12 curriculum. (Come on, man. It’s just been one year.)
While my barber was ranting, I felt that the Philippines really needed the additional years. I’ve often read that our educational system remains to be the only one (or one of the few) that retains a ten-year basic education program, so if a Filipino college graduate goes out of the country, he would be akin to a college sophomore completer vis-avis his foreign counterparts (yes, even his Southeast Asian counterparts). Furthermore, K to 12 curriculum is actually a part of the bigger scheme of preparing for the ASEAN integration (which is supposed to have kicked off in 2015), which intends to unite the ASEAN nations, in effect, Southeast Asia in one globally competitive economy (something like the European Union, just take out the open borders and the common currency). We need the senior high school program to boost the Filipino global competitiveness. Those additional two years would provide skill competency in the global job market. “K-12 system aims to improve Filipino students’ mathematical, scientific, and linguistic competence. With the new curriculum, DepEd promised to offer higher quality education through tracks. Each track will give students enough time to master a field and enhance their skills. In the end, K-12 graduates will become globally competitive and are set to obtain spot in the stiff labor market.” (k12philippines.com) So, rather than seeing it as a burden, lost time or delay from college graduation or actual employment, parents should consider it as a solidification of skills to ensure chances of success.
On another hand, we have to look deeper on reports of employability of Grade 12 graduates. Is this a comprehensive report? We have to understand that the situation is actually employers’ refusal or hesitation or reluctance to employ senior high school completers. It is also possible that the situation is not really so much of a “refusal”; but a greater preference for college graduates. We have to remember that even before the implementation of K to 12, there has been a large population of college graduates without regular employment. Then here come the senior high school graduates. Of course, the degree holders would stand a better chance.
But have not Filipinos been globally competitive for a long time now? Have we not prided ourselves of exporting labor which is preferred by foreign employers? But of course, it is always good to consolidate skills for personal and national development. In whatever case, we’re already here; let’s make the most of it.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”