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Gatchalian open to review but not scrapping of K to 12 program

Instead of abolishing the K to 12 program, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Sunday said that he was open to a review of the curriculum to ensure that the program's goal of employment after graduation would be met.

During an interview on Super Radyo dzBB, Gatchalian said that regressing to a 10-year schooling system was not the solution since it was not in line with global standards.

“Hindi ako sang-ayon na ibasura na ang K to 12 dahil ang buong mundo ay naka-K to 12 na,” he said.

(I am against discarding K to 12 because the world is already implementing K to 12.)

“Kung ibabalik natin sa 10-year system, ‘yung mga ga-graduate dito sa atin, magkakaroon ng problema kapag naghanap sila ng trabaho sa ibang bansa. Ito na ang standard,” he added.

(If we go back to the 10-year schooling system, those who graduated in our country will have a problem when they look for a job abroad. This is the standard.)

Gatchalian earlier filed a resolution seeking a Senate inquiry on the implementation of the K to 12 program to identify the issues in the basic education system and address skills mismatch among senior high school graduates.

In his resolution, Gatchalian explained that the implementation of the K to 12 Law must be sustained to fully attain its benefits. The pressing issues, however, should be addressed so it would not compromise the effectiveness of the program.

The lawmaker, who will remain chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture in the 19th Congress, cited several reports that depict Filipino learners as "still lagging in terms of actual learning."

Job mismatch

Meanwhile, Gatchalian said graduates of the K to 12 program were still “raw,” and what was being taught was not suitable to the needs of industry.

“Sa demand ng employment, ‘yung mga employer, sinasabing ‘hilaw’ pa at hindi angkop 'yung mga itinuturo sa K to 12 sa mga kailangan ng industriya," he said.

"Sa supply side naman, ‘yung pagtuturo lalo sa TECHVOC, hindi maayos at hindi rin angkop sa industriya… mayroong mismatch.”

(On the supply side, teaching, especially in TECHVOC, is improper and unsuitable for industry… there is a mismatch.)

The Senator also disclosed that most parents were dismayed with the program as its promise that senior high school students could be employed after graduation were not being met.

“Sa pag-iikot natin sa buong Pilipinas, marami sa ating mga kababayan ang dismayado sa K to 12 program... ‘Yung pangako ng K to 12 na magkakaroon ng trabaho ang kanilang mga anak, hindi nangyayari... Marami sa K to 12 graduate ay wala pa ring trabaho.

(As we go around the Philippines, many of our countrymen are disappointed with the K to 12 program. The promise of K to 12 that their children will have jobs is not happening. Many K to 12 graduates are still unemployed.)

To address the program's issues, Gatchalian believed it was necessary to look at the entire curriculum as experts have noted that basic education was too congested.

“Maraming dalubhasa ang nagsasabi na masyadong crowded ang ating curriculum... 'Yung competencies o 'yung mga skills at kaalaman na dapat malaman ng mga bata ay napakarami, nasa mahigit 1,200... Sa isang araw, nasa 4 hanggang 5 ang dapat nilang pag-aralan,” he pointed out.

(The competencies or skills and knowledge that children should know are numerous, there are over 1,200. In a day, there should be 4 to 5 studies.)

“Sa ibang bansa, mas kaunti ang kanilang pinag-aaralan dahil mas maraming oras ang bata mag-aral... Kapag sobrang daming kailangan pag-aralan, walang matututunan,” he continued.

(In other countries, they study less because the child has more time to study. When there is too much to study, they cannot learn.)

Learn to read

Gatchalian also underscored the importance of younger students' ability to read and deal with mathematics.

“Lumalabas sa test ng DepEd na halos 40% ay frustrated at non-readers. Halos kalahati ang hindi marunong magbasa... Importante na lahat ng batang Pilipino ay marunong magbasa dahil hindi sila makakausad sa buhay kapag hindi sila marunong magbasa,” he said.

(A DepEd test showed that almost 40% are frustrated and non-readers. Almost half cannot read. It is crucial that all Filipino children can read because they will not be able to move forward in life if they cannot read.)

“Kung marunong magbasa ang bata, madali na lahat... madali na niyang matututunan ang lahat... Mahalaga rin ang mathematics... Let's go back to the basics... kailangan palakasin ang reading comprehension at kakayahan sa simple Math ng mga kabataan,” he furthered.

(If the child can read, everything will be easy. He will be able to learn everything easily. Mathematics is also important. Let's go back to the basics. Young people's reading comprehension and simple math skills need to be strengthened.)

In 2019, the Philippines performed the poorest out of 79 countries in a reading literacy assessment conducted by the inter-government group Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

In 2018, the OECD administered a two-hour Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) exam to 600,000 15-year-old students around the world.

PISA results showed that Filipino students scored a mean of 340 points in the reading comprehension exam, which falls way below the OECD average of 487 points.

Gatchalian added that he would also review the proposal to use English as the sole medium of instruction.

He stressed that nationalism would be one of the issues if the proposal would push through.

“Dapat pag-usapan at pag-aralan kung gagawin nang english ang medium of instruction from kinder pa lamang,” he added.

(We must discuss and study whether to make English the medium of instruction from kindergarten.)

Asked about making history a subject, Gatchalian said he agreed that national history needed to be strengthened in the curriculum, but they would first need to study if it should be a separate subject.

“Sang-ayon ako na palakasin ang history at dapat talagang dumiin ito sa isip at puso ng mga kabataan pero dapat pang pag-aralan kung nga ba itong gawing separate subject,” Gatchalian said.

(I agreed that history should be strengthened, and it should leave an impression on the youth. But we still have to study whether to make it a separate subject.) — DVM, GMA News