By Camille A. Aguinaldo, March 6 2019; Business World

Image Credit to Philippine Star

A SENATE committee reviewing the implementation of the K to 12 curriculum has called for measures to improve the basic education system and to better match school training with the skills in demand from industry.

Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian, vice chair of the committee on education, arts and culture, made the call after the panel evaluated the implementation of the five-year old Enhanced Basic Education Law.

Mr. Gatchalian said the quality of basic education remains low despite Republic Act No. 10533 or the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013, judging from the recent National Achievement Test (NAT) average scores of Grade 6 and 10 students.

During the hearing, Mr. Gatchalian said NAT scores were low during the school year 2016-2017 with Grade 6 students recording a 40% average while Grade 10 students were graded at 44.1%. The performance was slightly lower than the 41.5% and 44.7% averages, respectively, in the 2015-2016 school year.

The Department of Education (DepEd) data cited by Mr. Gatchalian also indicate a decline in the overall NAT average for Grade 6 and Grade 10 students since 2013-2014.

“What the hearing showed is that the curriculum that is supposed to be taught under K to 12… is not being taught well. The student cannot process the curriculum the right way, so we’re seeing low National Achievement Test scores. And what I’m fearing is a student cannot enter college, cannot get a decent job, and cannot have a good future because of the low NAT scores,” Mr. Gatchalian told reporters after the hearing.

“We have to review the K to 12 curriculum. We have to review if the technical-vocational skills being taught under the K to 12 are the skills that the industry needs… We have what we call a misalignment between what the industry needs and what is being taught in the K to 12,” he added.

Mr. Gatchalian also brought up the declining quality of teachers based on the recent passing rates in the Licensure Exams for Teachers (LET). According to the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), the passing rate for Elementary teachers in the LET was at 22% in 2018, slightly higher than the 20% recorded in 2017.

The hearing also saw testimony about the hiring process for K to 12 graduates.

“It’s not (companies) are unwilling, it’s just that their systems not built to hire K to 12 graduates because many of our HR (human resources) protocols for job ads look for a minimum of two year of college or college graduates. We need to adjust HR policies,” Philippine Business for Education (PBEd) Executive Director Love B. Basillote said.

Education Assistant Secretary Alma Ruby C. Torio said the decline of NAT scores may be due to a shift in the framing of the test questions following the implementation of the K to 12 program, rendering recent test results less directly comparable to those of previous years.

“When we implemented the K to 12 program, we were saying that we would like our learners to be equipped with 21st century skills… Just the same, we recognize that there’s still a lot of things to do… the enhancement of curriculum cannot be achieved if we don’t get the support of other offices,” she said.

Ms. Torio also said the DepEd has also participated in three international assessment surveys, such as the International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), as part of the process of improving the basic education system.

As for the competence of teachers, Ms. Torio said the DepEd has also created a Teacher Education Council (TEC) to discuss proposed admission requirements for a teacher education program.

“We are also reviewing our curriculum guides and in the review, we invite the experts and industry… to assure them that we will be producing the right graduates they need,” she said. — Camille A. Aguinaldo