IN FIVE months, the pioneer batch of students under the K to 12 (K-12) basic education program will finally turn their tassels. But for the graduating seniors, the journey toward getting that diploma feels like a narrow victory.

Education major Beatriz Joy Sacdalan said that she felt “scammed” by the added two years of high school after their college load wasn’t decreased, and job opportunities for post-K-12 graduates failed to materialize.

“Wala ngang dry-run and parang kami talaga yung guinea pig kasi kami yung pinag-aralan nila kung okay ba [K to 12],” she told the Varsitarian. “Sobrang unfair kasi hindi naman tayo nag-aaral para lang maging experimental batch.”

For marketing management major Jerome Espinas, he said that they had no choice but to comply with the new curriculum without knowing how hard the adjustments were going to be made.

“We didn’t subscribe to this kind of system,” he said in an interview with the Varsitarian. “We cannot deny yung two years of [senior high] has added burden not only to us students, but to the entire education system. Ang daming adjustments and mga kailangang pagtuunan ng pansin.”

Mark Geronimo, a journalism major, said that while the K-12 program had good intentions, the country’s implementation felt unprepared as many schools lacked the necessary facilities and teaching competencies.

“I think we were really ill-prepared and ill-equipped to the point na parang na-force tayo to the point na hindi lang students yung nag-suffer kabilang na rin dito yung mga institutions and the teachers,” he told the Varsitarian.

A 2020 Pulse Asia survey revealed that 47 percent of 1,200 Filipino families polled were not satisfied with the K-12 program, citing added costs, lack of classrooms and teachers, and that a high school diploma will not get good jobs.

The Department of Education had conducted a review last July 2021 to streamline the basic education curriculum, the results of which are expected to be applied next school year, according to Education undersecretary Diosdado San Antonio.

Educators’ perspective

Despite the shortcomings, educators remain optimistic about the advantages of the K-12 program in the long run.

Asst. Prof. Jeremaiah M. Opiniano of the UST Department of Communication and Media Studies said that the added two years in high school did not only improve students’ knowledge, but also their level of maturity.

“There may be some slight improvements in terms of what students know because they studied two more years,” he told the Varsitarian. “They are enjoying their youth even with a slight improvement in their level of maturity.”

He added that K-12 is a “great equalizer” in seeking job opportunities abroad where four years in high school would not have been acceptable.

Laelani Arocha from the UST Senior High School (UST-SHS) said that it was “high time” for the country to implement K-12 and to catch up with the rest of the world.

“In the long run kasi maapektuhan ang economic balance natin,” she said in an interview with the Varsitarian. “The global economy is actually demanding certain skills and hindi ito mapo-provide lang ng isang 10-year pre-university program.”

However, Arocha added that the program was implemented in haste as it overhauled everything from learning materials to school infrastructures. 

Jessica May Reyes, an instructor at UST-SHS, told the Varsitarian that the basic education curriculum should be seen as “better competency and global opportunities for learners” and that its success is dependent on both students and teachers. 

Virtual graduation?

With the Covid-19 pandemic restricting movement and mass gatherings in the country, the pioneer K-12 batch is worried that they may have to celebrate their hard-earned efforts in front of a computer screen.

“Times should be getting better,” said Espinas. “It’s frustrating na ang dami na nating pinagdaanan tapos idedeprive pa kami ng face-to-face graduation.”

For Sacdalan, graduation means getting to share the momentous event with friends, especially in-person.

“Para sakin kasi more of yung memory talaga na sabay-sabay kayong natapos na parang, wow, shucks nandito tayo sa finish line na magkakasama pa rin tayo,” she said.

As the country continues to grapple with the pandemic, Batch ’22 hopes that they will graduate on time and face-to-face in their respective colleges.

“Once in a lifetime ka lang gagraduate ng college,” Geronimo said. “Ang gusto lang talaga namin ay maka-martsa.” Judd Ericka Marie F. Crescini, Nina Angela Mikaela Cruz, Faith Nicole S. Gelacio


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