On Science & the K to 12 Curriculum

News Release
February 16, 2012

Transcript of interview with Sen. Pia S. Cayetano (SPSC)
Senate Session Hall
Topic: K to 12 Curriculum
Integration of Science subjects into English for Grades 1 & 2

Q: What are your concerns regarding the K to 12 curriculum?
SPSC: Basically it’s called K to 12 and so the main concern of the average person, like a parent, eh ‘Ano yung dagdag na years na yon? Ano’ng matutunan sa [extra] two years ng anak ko dyan? Anong preparation nya at ano ang kinabukasan nya?’ So yun yung hinihimay natin.

The first part was on the Science side. How can we improve our ranking and competitiveness in Science if it’s not a core subject [for Grades 1 and 2]. And the response given was that it will be ‘integrated.’ Sa akin naman po, whether it’s integrated, whether you call it a separate subject, as long as it is a significant part of the curriculum, that is what counts. Ang problem ko sa integration kasi, is that baka mamaya, maging ‘case-to-case’ na lang sa bawat teacher yan, kung papaano sya magfo-focus sa Science. The reason why you have a separate subject named Science, English, is because it’s required na for that amount of time, yun yung focus mo.

If you ask any child development expert, yung mga batang maliliit, integrated naman po matuto yan. Hindi naman yun yung de-kahon di ba. So walang problema with integration but the problem is that with the teacher, dapat very clear sa mind ng teacher, na yung curriculum na sinusundan nila ay significant yung component ng Science. Yun yung concern dun. And so nag-request ako na ipakita nila yung curriculum para makita ko for myself saan sa lahat ng sinsabing integrated subjects na yan, saan ba mapa-practice ng bata yung concepts sa Science. Gaya ng concept ng cause and effect . So paano nya makikita yun day-to-day?

Moving forward, when you add two years, ano ang magiging laman ng two years na yon. Sabi nila starting Grade 9, magkakaroon na ng mga electives. Kasi from there ang bata pwede na syang pumili kung more of sa academics sya, kung more of sa arts, music, physical education, or vocational. So again, my question there is: ‘Do we have enough teachers for the whole country who’ll be able to teach all these subjects or skills?’ Kasi po, paano yun kung nag-umpisa na yung program and the you have Grade 11 and Grade 12, na wala namang sufficient teachers dun para ituro yung vocational skills na yan. Nagdagdag ka ng two years, pagkatapos nila, basic pa lang pala yung understanding nila, hindi pa rin nila kayang kumuha ng trabaho. Ano, papasok na naman sila ng vocational? Kasi my understanding of that program, based on programs in Australia, in Europe, pag tinapos mo yun, talagang may skills ka na. So sa next hearing daw pag-uusapan natin, kasama yung presidente ng Philippine Normal College, of course experts from UP, DepEd, CHED, to explain to us what are these skills na ituturo, and do we have enough teachers to teach these skills.

Q: From what you’ve gathered from the hearing, tingin you po ba handa na ang gobyerno by 2018?

SPSC: Para sabihin mong handa na sa 2018, dapat mag-minus ka ng five years. That means by 2013, mag-uumpisa. So yun yung tanong: ‘By 2013, handa ka na ba dun sa bagong program?’ Kasi 2013 is just one school year away from now. And again there was a lot of confusion because from what I remember, from what I read in the newspapers, the graduating batch this year…eh ang anak ko rin Grade 7, so I have a personal interest at stake. Kasi tinatanong sa akin nung mga anak ko, ng classmates nila, ang alam nila is magfi-five years na sila eh. So tinatanong nila ko, ‘Mom, ano’ng matututunan namin dun? Ano yung dagdag?’ Hindi ko rin nga masagot kasi hindi ko alam. What more pa dun sa o wala pang access sa information.

So I think there’s still a little bit of confusion and in fact mabuti nga we have private schools here, like the Xavier principal was here, and sinabi nya na, yun pala, they have to get confirmation [from DepEd] kung ano na ang mangyayari sa kanila by June. So it’s still a work in progress. And I think they have to come up with those decision because by March, graduate na ang mga bata. And all the parents will be asking, ‘What’s next?’

Q: It was earlier announced that [the program will start] this coming June…

SPSC: Ang alam ko nga sa anak ko is five years na sila. For me technically it’s fine basta alam ko kung saan ka papunta. So I and other parents there with kids who are graduating, lost kami. Saan pupunta yung mga anak naming? So I personally represent many parents who just want to know in what direction we’re going.

Q: Hearing from the DepEd and other experts, do you think that by next school year handa na yung DepEd to start with the what they call as the transition to K to 12?

SPSC: I don’t want to pretend to be the expert. Kung ako kasi naniniwala ako sa pilot project. Kasi kung ngayon hinihingi ko yung curriculum tapos ginagawa pa lang nila, paano mo iro-roll out yan in four months? From March, April, May, June, in four months iro-roll out mo na yung program na ginagawa pa lang ngayon.

So ako lang, mas gusto ko sana pilot project muna. Para that way, you have one or two years to see how it goes. Kasi ibang-iba yung success sa privates schools, sa ibang bansa, iro-roll out mo sa mga public school na may iba pang concerns, like lack of teachers, lack of classrooms, lack of books, nagsh-share lang sila [ang mga estudyante]. Personally I have full respect for the bureaucracy, I just want to try to support, I’m just hoping na itong mga observations ko, itong mga comments ko, matignan nila nang maayos para in the next hearing, mapag-usapan ulit, mahimay ulit ang problem.

Q: Are you positive about it?
SPSC: I’ve seen the studies and I definitely believe that we’re moving in the right direction. Pero we need to see the details. For example I mentioned that if our premise is that the reason why we’re lagging behind in Science and Math, is because ten years lang yung ating basic education, sa ibang countries 12, ako I beg to disagree that it is the sole reason. Baka the reason why we’re lagging behind is also because, eh my gosh wala man lang tayong Science teachers. And the teachers we have, very few of them specialize in Science and Math. Those factors may be more important than the lack of years.

Because when you follow the logic, if you look at K to 12 program, nagbawas talaga sila ng years. Saying kailangang decongested yung programs, meaning decongested yung hours for the subjects, so the kids have less hours of school pero focused. So now they’re saying, more is not better, and yet they’re saying, mag-more years tayo. Pero not more hours per child. So those are two different principles. You want less hours so that the child is not overloaded, but technically, you want more, so magdadagdag ka ng two years.

Okay lang sa akin yun pero saksakan mo talaga yan ng quality years. To me, it was an important question, because I’m raising children, I have a teen, a tween and a toddler. What do you do with the other four hours of the child? Kasi in other [private] schools na kino-compare natin, they all have ‘after-school activities.’ Eh tayo what do we do after four hours? I think that’s also an important component. [Note: Under K to 12 program, school hours will be limited to only four hours every day for Grades 1 to 3 pupils]

Q: When will they present the curriculum?
SPSC: They’ll show me daw samples.

Q: So hindi pa tapos. Kailan daw?
SPSC: Siguro alamin natin sa March or April. Kasi hinda pa raw tapos eh. #

Photo: Senators Pia Cayetano and Edgardo Angara at the public hearing on the DepEd’s K to 12 Curriculum at Congressional Oversight Commission on Science, Technology and Engineering (COMSTE), 16 February 2012

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