Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said he rejects proposals calling for the abolition of the K to 12 program saying it only needs to be reviewed and tweaked to ensure that its promises are fulfilled.
“The promises of the K to 12 system are not happening. And one of the biggest selling points of the K to 12—when we were discussing this in the past—was to guarantee employment to our senior high school graduates,” Gatchalian said in an interview on CNN Philippines.
“Meaning, we add two years, but in exchange, or at least the benefit in adding that two years is for our senior high school students to be employed. But it’s not happening,” he pointed out.
“In fact, a lot of the companies are not hiring our senior high school students because they think they lack the skills to be hired. And a lot of our senior high school graduates are not getting employed. So the promises are not happening,” the senator added.
This, he said, is actually one of the biggest disappointments of the K to 12 program, which extended the country’s elementary and secondary education to 12 years, instead of the previous 10 years, and that is why “we need to review it.”
“We need to take a look on how to tweak the K to 12 system. I don’t agree with going back with the 10-year schooling system because the whole world is now K to 12,” Gatchalian said.
“Regressing is not the solution, but what we should do is to look at the senior high school program, fix it and make sure that our senior high school graduates are going to be employed,” he noted.
Asked how the system can be improved, the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture chief said he believes it is necessary to look at the curriculum of the entire K to 12 through the system as experts have noted that the Philippine education curriculum is too congested.
For one, the lawmaker said, students are being taught with many competencies and subjects that they end up learning nothing.
“That’s number one, and number two, we need to look at the tracks in senior high school, specifically the tech-voc (technical vocational) track. The tech-voc track is designed to give additional skills to our senior high school students giving them NC (national certificates) I and NC II certification. But are those skills needed by the industry? And is the training being given to the senior high school students enough in terms of time and in terms of technology?”
“So these are the things that we need to look at but of course, K to 12 is much more than that. My top two issues is that we have to look at is number one, the senior high school program specifically the tech-voc track and then number two, the curriculum itself,” Gatchalian said.
Gatchalian earlier expressed his support for the incoming administration of Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio’s plan to conduct a review of the K to 12 program.
Duterte-Carpio, who is also the incoming Department of Education (DepEd) chief, had said abolition of the program cannot be decided overnight, but will be taken up by the Marcos administration.
Another senator, Sen. Sonny Angara, also expressed his belief that the K to 12 program should be reviewed “not necessarily with a view to abandoning it” because most of its provisions are not yet implemented fully.
“Funding is one of the issues that needs addressing and, hopefully, post pandemic, it would be given focus by the government since the country has reopened since the pandemic and the economy is recovering,” Angara said.