Once and For All, Let’s End the K-12 Debate

The K-12 policy introduced by the Aquino administration is on its first year. As expected, it was a rocky start. Although the sitting president has no plans to overturn the said policy, some lawmakers and activists have tried rallying against it. There are pending cases in courts right now suing the government for implementing this policy.

We were always behind

The K-12 policy has long been delayed if we are to be blatantly honest about it. All our neighbors have already shifted to this system a long time ago. This is the reason why Filipinos who have graduated high school in the Philippines have to study high school again should they decide to study college in another country. This is also the reason why Filipinos searching for jobs abroad can’t make use of their degree as it is not deemed an equivalent for many countries.

For a country that relies heavily on overseas workers and the rise of a borderless world, rallying against the K-12 system is impractical. We have to view this policy as a step forward. Yes, the implementation was not perfect, and no one expected it to be. Hence, the debate right now is on how we can improve the system moving forward.

There were also questions on the readiness of the country for this change in the system. Whatever law that we ought to implement, we can never be fully prepared. If the problem is on the lack of classrooms, the government has to address it by investing more. If the problem is on the readiness of the teachers, adequate training and a more intensive hiring process could be the key. There are several ways to solve the problem without necessarily going in the opposite direction.

It’s an investment

Parents have complained about the skyrocketing cost of sending their children to school. This is why they are suing the government for placing additional burden on their shoulders. Then, there’s the argument about the quality and not the quantity of learning being given more emphasis.

Let’s take the argument about the cost first. To begin with, parents don’t have to pay tuition fees in sending their kids to a public school. For parents who send their kids to private schools, there is a government aid in place to help parents. Scholarships are also available, both from government and non-government agencies. Besides, education will always be expensive. Hence, it is only for the most determined people. As the adage goes, if there’s a will, there’s a way.

With regard to the quality of learning, perhaps it is a fundamentally correct argument. It is not really on the amount of time spent on learning, but what kind of education is instilled on the learners. However, we also have to take into account the additional information being fed to the students.

Take note that the additional two years allows them to select their major earlier on. In a way, it is like being in college. It is also not like they are throwing away two years of their lives. They are spending more time to be a master of their craft. This is also why a lot of college graduates just can’t get hired for quality jobs. They just don’t have enough mastery on their chosen field. Spending more time in learning more topics to make them better is obviously the right path.

For parents who can’t afford sending their kids to college, having a child graduating from the K-12 system is even a more practical choice. They can now be employed in professional jobs even if they don’t have a degree. Even if they are still not as competitive as college graduates, they can at least have the skills necessary for employment. They will also be considered for the job instead of being tossed aside.

Change must come

In the Philippines, we have always been inspired by the idea of change. This is the reason why we always vote candidates running on a platform of change. In fact, President Duterte himself has won with change at the center of his campaign.

Sadly, change is easier said than done. We love the idea of change, but we can’t take it when we are asked to change. For once, let us prove that we are ready for change and we will do whatever we can to make this change work.

Instead of fighting on whether or not the K-12 system will be effective, why can’t we just work together in making it work for our children? We have already gone past the debate period. This has already been battled out in Congress. It is now being fully implemented. So far, things have been going well. There are some bumps along the way, but no major obstacle has arisen. It only means that the only way to go is forward.

We can all complain about how expensive this system is or how effective the old policy was. Let’s just put it this way. Most countries around the world follow this system, especially in the West, and they have excelled academically. Perhaps, the system has to change if we want to be just like them. If you argue that they have better teachers, classrooms and higher budget, maybe you’re right. So, let’s work on that. At least for now, we already have the same system in place. We can just aspire to be the same with them in other aspects. This is how we succeed in elevating the quality of education in the Philippines.

Image Attribution: K-12 Image by LFS