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Graduation Time

We came early. We thought 5 pm was just a right time; not too late, not too early. Well, it turned out that we came a bit too early. The visitors other than family who would come next came two hours after we did. Well, we were already there and could not go back to come later. It was awkward to be the first ones to be invited to sit around the dining table with the graduate not yet around. We waited until another batch of guests (who also happened to be our friends) came before we gave in to the invitation. At least, we had someone to share the awkwardness when the graduate and her mother came when we were just about finished with our meal. It has been a tradition of sorts. I with one or some of my students would crash one of their friend’s home come graduation time. We just want to celebrate with them; and of course have some free dinner.

So, what do they call it now? Is it graduation, moving up or completion? I suppose, since Kindergarten to Grade 12 is one continuous line of basic education, pupils should not “graduate” from kindergarten to Grade 1; rather they would just “move up”. I suppose, the case is the same with Grade 10 students moving up to Grade 11. They would only graduate when finishing Grade 12. But why do they have graduation for Grade 6? It seems that the labels for the rites change every year. But whatever the administrators may call the rites, parents and families will still carry on the tradition that the children would graduate from kindergarten, Grade 6, fourth year high school or Grade 10 and Grade 12; and they would have bihon and buco salad when they come home. Then, the child’s father would find an excuse to sit around bottles of booze with his compadres to the tune (or off-tune) of videoke singing.

Why is almost all of the class honor students? Everyone now is an honor student. Whatever happened to first honor, second honor and third honor?

Don’t you like that? Each child is awarded for his/her own accomplishment and not relative to the accomplishments of his/her three classmates who received the highest general averages. The way it works is the students who gets 90 to 94 are awarded “with honors”, those who get 95 to 97 are awarded “with high honors”, and those who get 98 to 100 are awarded “with highest honors”. It’s been like that for around half a decade now. In this way, a child who studied hard and made it to 90 would still be recognized , regardless of his/her classmates’ performance. No parent would not anymore go to the class adviser to complain that his/her child should have been the valedictorian, and insist on looking at the class records. So, if you’re feeling nostalgic about first, second and third honors, forget about it because this one’s better.

Yes, we’ll go back to June next year. That’s next year, not next school year. But if you’re waiting for the abolition of Grade 11 and 12, forget about it because senior high school is here to stay. “A 13-year basic education program is the recognized standard for students and professionals globally”. The Philippines is one of the last countries not only in Asia but in the entire world to decide to implement a 13 year basic education program. Our classmates in this league are the countries of Angola and Djibouti. Those are African nations, which means that the Philippines is the last in Asia, from Turkey to Japan and all the nations between (even the Central Asian nations) to implement the globally recognized standard of of basic education. I’m not sure if Angola and Djibouti have caught on. But at least, there was a time when we were huddled together with those two nations in the comfort zone of less than 13 years. No offense to citizens of Angola and Djibouti, but do we really want to stay in that league?

This discussion may get complicated and branch out to other complicated issues, especially with our internationally declining performance levels in the key areas of language, science and mathematics, the slipping ranks of our universities, and the relatively declining proficiency in the English language. But at least, with K to 12 program with senior high school, with Grade 11 and 12, we’re at the right track of a globally recognized system, and start fixing the many issues within a world standard, and not in anything less. That would be an even bigger problem. So, for the parents who are asking and waiting for the abolition of senior high school, that’s not going to happen.

Just so you don’t get sad, next year, on 2025, school will start on June. Wish granted.

“Do all things without grumbling and disputing, in order that you may become blameless and innocent,” Philippians 2:14


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