MANILA — Siblings Gabriel and Cee Khaye Hernaez both want to pursue a career in the field of arts.
According to them, they are learning the skills they need in school, but they have a lot more to learn.
"Naiintindihan ko po, pero minsan hindi ko po maintindihan. Nagtatanong na lang po ako sa mga magulang ko," Cee Khaye, a Grade 3 student, told ABS-CBN News.
Gabriel, a Grade 8 student, echoed: "Paghahandaan ko rin po in the future."
Their father Vani is convinced that the K-12 Program is working, although he has reservations about the additional 2 years of senior high school, which resulted in parents and guardians having more expenses.
"Sa akin kasi, ang K to 12 okay lang, kung tulad sila ng ibang lugar, may libreng pag-aaral... Pero kung sa iba, tulad iyan magbabayad ka ng tuition, napakahaba masyado... Imbes na nagagamit na," Vani said.
"At saka, iyong ibang bata, tinatamad na sa haba ng panahon ng kanilang pag-aaral," he added.
Based on a recent Pulse Asia survey commissioned by Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, 44 percent of Filipinos are dissatisfied with the K-12 system.
This is higher than the 28 percent dissatisfaction rate in a 2019 survey.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) agreed with the survey results, suggesting an "overhaul" of the education system to achieve national development.
"The whole education system needs to be overhauled. Education should serve the aspiration of Filipinos for national development," said Vladimer Quetua, chairperson of ACT Philippines.
"We need a system of education that will develop our agriculture and serve the establishment of national industries, an education that will produce Filipinos with a deep sense of patriotism, imbued with democratic values, scientifically-minded and competently skilled and dedicated to serve the upliftment of our people."
For teachers and education experts, the review of the K-12 Program is timely, even as they concur with the goals of the program: to ensure that students are ready for college or for employment upon graduation.
While the program is aligned with global standards, the teachers said its implementation must be reviewed.
For Prof. Lizamarie Campoamor-Olegario of the Movement for Safe, Equitable, Quality, and Relevant Education (SEQuRE), teachers should focus on "core skills."
For the Philippine Business for Education (PBEd), the additional two years should equate to delivering quality education.
"Nakita natin ngayon, nakita noong PISA results at iba pang international student assessments na hindi lamang pagdagdag ng taon ang mahalaga," PBEd's Policy and Advocacy Manager Marco Delos Reyes said.
"Kinakailangan nandoon iyong kalidad, nandoon iyong learning inputs, kinakailangan nandoon ang kalidad ng instruction para ang mga estudyante na nag-undergo ng Kinder hanggang senior high school, mabubuo sa kanila ang basic skills."
Aral Pilipinas convenor Reg Sibal said the K-12 Program review must be "consultative".
"This is not about looking for mistakes. This is looking for opportunities for us to be able to improve the program," she said.
"Let's consult our teachers, our parents, our learners, our school heads... even sa employers, the ones who hire our graduates," she added.
Pitogo High School in Makati, which has been offering Senior High School for the past 5 years, said that 90 percent of its graduates opt to go to college, while others join the workforce.
"They go to call center or sometimes sa food industry," said Jose Mari Fontanilla, the school's Senior High School Coordinator.
School principal Alixander Escote said strands and tracks offered in schools should be highlighted during the K-12 Program review.
"The Department of Education has to take a look on the tracks and the strands being offered in particular schools... Take a look on how students could navigate freely the tracks and the strand," Escote suggested.
The Department of Education (DepEd) said it is already conducting a review of the K-12 Program.
Education stakeholders appealed that the review should not be the end, but rather the start in finding solutions to concerns.
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