By Ma. Niña Avilla–Papa
THE Department of Education (DepEd) is in charge of the basic education of Filipino citizens. As such, it implements the K to 12 program of the government.
As the term denotes, basic education starts from kindergarten — 5-year-old children must enroll as a jump-start in the formal education system. This is pre-school education. After finishing kindergarten, pupils enter primary school for Grades 1 to 4, then elementary school for Grades 5 to 6. From elementary school, the pupils are promoted to pursue secondary education — junior and senior high schools — to finish Grades 7 to 10 and Grades 11 to 12, respectively.
Per DepEd Order 21, series of 2019, dated Aug. 22, 2019, the policy guidelines on the K to12 program were issued by then Secretary Leonor Briones to provide the features and curriculum of the program.
The goal of the K to 12 program is “to holistically develop the Filipino people with 21st century skills.” To achieve such a goal, DepEd has established the pathways and equivalencies to enable all learners to attain basic education whatever their age. The pathways and equivalencies are put in place to provide different routes to basic education for over-aged and adult learners. Their path will be determined by their life and employment experiences and their purpose for seeking basic education. The formal education path has been linked to the Alternative Learning System (ALS).
Principles of K to 12
The curriculum shall be learner-centered, inclusive, developmentally relevant and appropriate. Learner-centered is an approach to education that puts the needs and interests of the students at the center of the teaching-learning process.
It shall be relevant, responsive and research-based. It is based on learning theories, principles, sound research, and studies in teaching and learning dynamics.
The curriculum shall be culture-sensitive, i.e., instruction must respect the cultural identities of the learners.
It shall also be contextualized and global. Relevant, appropriate and responsive curriculum will only become a reality if it puts a premium on the personal, biogeographical and sociocultural setting of the learners, taking into account the demands of the national and global community.
As the learner is at the center of the teaching-learning process, the curriculum uses pedagogical approaches that are constructivist, inquiry-based, reflective, collaborative, differentiated, appropriate, relevant and integrative.
Constructivism views learners as active constructors of meaningful knowledge; inquiry-based learning puts a premium on questioning, proving, explaining, predicting and establishing connection of evidence.
Reflective learning gives learners opportunities to reflect on what and why they need to learn and how to go about it.
A collaborative approach allows learners to share ideas between and among themselves, thus developing the value of cooperation, respect, camaraderie and tolerance.
Differentiation considers the different learning styles and multiple intelligences of the learners, which are significant aspects of their individual differences as learners and as individuals.
Meanwhile, integrative pedagogy espouses the importance of connections and relationships of ideas and concepts between and among disciplines.
Likewise, the curriculum shall adhere to the principles andn framework of Mother-Tongue-Based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE) in the early grades. Instructional materials and capable teachers to implement the MTB-MLE curriculum shall be available.
Further, the curriculum shall use the spiral progression approach to ensure mastery of knowledge and skills after each level. This pedagogical feature follows the idea that concepts are introduced at an early age and deepened in succeeding years.
Moreover, the curriculum of the K-12 program shall be flexible enough to enable schools to localize, indigenize and to enhance it based on their respective educational and social contexts. The production and development of locally produced teaching materials shall be encouraged and the approval of these materials shall be devoted to the regions and divisions, subject to approved standards and monitoring at the central level.