For the parents of the close to 2 million children who will start kindergarten classes on Monday, the key phrase is “K-to-12.”
K-to-12 is the government’s bold new education program it is launching this school year. It re-structures the curriculum, incorporating kindergarten, six years of elementary, four years of junior high school, and two years of senior high school (SHS).
The goal of the program, which will be implemented in phases, is to provide the student enough time to master concepts and skills and prepare graduates for tertiary education, middle-level skills development, employment, and entrepreneurship.
The kindergartners belong to the army of almost 28 million students attending elementary, high school and college classes this year. The Department of Education (DepEd) projects enrollment in the more than 45,000 public elementary and high schools at 21.49 million, with 1.73 million in kindergarten; 14 million in elementary and 5.76 million in high school.
DepEd has yet to come up with an estimate on enrollment for private schools, but going by previous trends, it could be 3 million for kinder, elementary and high school.
In the college level, the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) expects more than three million students to enrol in 2,247 public and private Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).
CHEd predicts a total of 3,052,153 students enrolled in 1,604 private HEIs and 110 State, Universities, and Colleges (SUCs) main campuses, 424 satellite campuses, 93 Local Universities and Colleges (LUCs,) 16 others including 1 CHEd Supervised Institution (CHED-ARMM), 10 other Government Schools and 5 Special HEIs.
Attention, however, will be riveted on K to 12, how DepEd can get it off to a good start. After all, the K-to-12 budget for 2012 is a staggering Php 238.8 billion, including Php 2.4 billion for kinder.
For 2016, when Grade 11 (the equivalent high school year 5) the program needs an estimated Php 38 billion.
Jayson Tarnate, of Fajardo Interior, Sampaloc, Manila, is grappling with another problem, one that directly involves his son, John Andrew.
By all indications, John Andrew is ready for kindergarten. He can write his name, identify the basic colors, recite the ABC, and count from one to 10. But there is a hitch: The boy isonly four.
“I was hoping that he’d enter kindergarten this year but he was turned away since he’s only four years old,” said Tarnate, a 29-year-old former hardware store worker whose family owns a sidewalk snack foods business.
Under K-to-12, the age limit for kinder is five.
“Nowadays, you can’t force children into studying if they don’t want to,” Tarnate said.
But John Andrew is different. He wants to go school. Now, Tarnate realized this last year, when John Andrew saw a group of pupils walking to school. “Pa, let me study, “Let me study,” the boy nagged his father.
Still, Tarnate acknowledges that K-to-12 is “okay if it means sharpening children’s knowledge.
To have no education is difficult.”Ishi Amerie Caliwan, of Bambang, Taguig City, also can’t wait to go to school.
“I want to go to school because that’s my favorite place and because I am already four,” said the girl, who turned four last April 7.
Ishi said she wants to be taught how to write her name and her parents’ names. “I will also read. I want to be a doctor, with an injection.”
Christy Caliwan, 28, a corporate services assistant at the British Embassy in Taguig, said she fully supports her daughter’s dream.
“We would like her to finish school, earn a degree and get her dream job. We want her to be successful and at the same time happy with the things that she might be doing in the future,” Caliwan said.
Although they fully support K+12, they said that additional financial support to students’ families, particularly to the lesser-fortunate, should be the next logical step for the government. K+12 “will be very beneficial to the students. However, by adding more years, it will also become a burden to most of the parents.
We think that they should also offer scholarship to students who lack financial means, and add more classrooms and hire more teachers,” said Ishi’s dad, Lloyd, 28.
Lloyd said their daughter is now being assessed as to what pre-school institution would be best suited for her level.
As for Andoy, it’s back to the barangay day-care center, the same one that he attended with no absences last year.
“That would be better than playing Counterstrike the whole day,” Jayson said.
Education Secretary Armin Luistro has predicted a “smooth” school opening.
“There are no major problems in terms of shortages in public schools,” Luistro said. He said that textbooks and chairs will not be a problem for students who took advantage of early registration in January. “However, this may not be the same to late enrollees since preference will be given to those who have been listed already,” Luistro said.
DepEd puts shortages of teachers this schoolyear at 47,584, classrooms at 19,579 and sanitation facilities or comfort rooms at 80,937.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) disagreed, saying DepEd has “lowered the figures” of shortages. ACT Party-List Representative Antonio Tinio “disputed” the lower figures claimed by DepEd.
The shortages “will get worse this schoolyear because the Aquino administration has failed to provide sufficient funding in the 2012 national budget for the additional requirements of our public school system in School Year 2012-2013, including the needs of 1.6 million incoming kindergarten students,” Tinio said.
By INA HERNANDO-MALIPOT and ELLSON QUISMORIO