Education in the Philippines

Education in the Philippines is provided by public and private schools, colleges, universities, and technical and vocational institutions in the country. Funding for public education comes from the national government.

The educational system in the Philippines is handled by three government agencies,

  • The Department of Education (DepEd) sets overall educational standards and mandates standardized tests for the K–12 basic education system, although private schools are generally free to determine their own curriculum in accordance with existing laws and Department regulations.
  • The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) supervises and regulates the higher education level for colleges and universities.
  • The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) regulates and accredits technical and vocational education programs and institutions in the country.

By law, education is compulsory for thirteen years (kindergarten and grades 1–12) and is grouped into three levels:

  1. Elementary School (Kindergarten – grade 6)
  2. Junior High School (Grades 7 – 10)
  3. Senior High School (Grades 11 – 12).

Institutions of higher education may be classified as either public or private college or university, and public institutions of higher education may further be subdivided into two types: state universities and colleges and local colleges and universities.

K to 12 Basic Education Curriculum

The K to 12 Program covers Kindergarten and 12 years of basic education (six years of primary education, four years of Junior High School, and two years of Senior High School (SHS) to provide sufficient time for mastery of concepts and skills, develop lifelong learners, and prepare graduates for tertiary education, middle-level skills development, employment, and entrepreneurship.

The 12-year program is found to be the best period for learning basic education and is also the recognized standard for students and professionals globally.

The K to 12 Program covers 13 years of basic education with the following key stages:

  • Kindergarten to Grade 3 (Primary)
  • Grades 4 to 6 (Intermediate)
  • Grades 7 to 10 (Junior High School)
  • Grades 11 to 12 (Senior High School).

The K+12 Basic Education Program was initially introduced to the Philippine Kindergarten Curriculum in School Year 2011. The following year, the Enhanced Curriculum for Grades 1 to 7 was implemented. With its enactment into law in 2014, the implementation of the K+12’s curriculum for Grades 11- 12 was completed.

K-to-12 Curriculum Program

Overview of K to 12

K stands for kindergarten and 12 refers to the succeeding 12 years of basic education, which is why it is called K to 12. The 12 years of basic education comprises of 6 years of elementary education, 4 years of junior high school, and 2 years of senior high school. The K-12 program offers a decongested 12-year program for the students which aims to give them sufficient time to master skills and acquire basic competencies with the goal of being competitive on a global scale. Students of the new system will be equipped with the skills required to be ready for employment, entrepreneurship, middle-level skills development, and higher education even if they intend to do so after graduation.

The K to 12 program promotes global competency by accelerating mutual recognition of Filipino graduates and professionals in other countries. The new curriculum allows students to choose between three tracks which are the Academic, Technical-Vocational-Livelihood, and the Sports and Arts strand. It will also give students opportunities to undergo immersions, have relevant exposure to a variety of industries, and to have experience in their chosen track. Whereas the old curriculum offers a broad and linear curriculum, it did not include enough practical applications like the K-12 does.

Starting with Kindergarten as the foundation for lifelong learning and development, the 12-year curriculum aims to give students the journey in education that they deserve. Foreign countries perceive that a ten-year curriculum in the education department is insufficient that is why many Filipinos abroad are not recognized professionals. With the new curriculum, graduates are fully equipped with the skills which can help them stand out on a global scale and compete accordingly according to international standards.

K to 12 is a Learner-Centered Curriculum

K to 12 as a student-centered curriculum can influence the students to take a more active role in the learning process. With the freedom and the flexibility to choose what they will learn, how they will learn, and how they can evaluate your own learning, this would be a way to teach them about independence and how to be a reliable member of a team. Not only will this make learning very enjoyable and easier for students, it will also help address diverse needs which include special cases and those that come from indigenous groups which make this education system very inclusive for everyone.

K to 12 Provides Options

Getting a K to 12 education can open new doors and increase the chance of finding a stable job. Students can get the opportunity to build a network, acquire more skills, and find the career that they really love. K to 12 can get students the access to all these great opportunities and have a fulfillment during this learning experience. Obtaining a K to 12 diploma will make students more likely to be hired because employers usually assume that someone who completed the K to 12 curriculum has the basic skills necessary for the job, have adequate communication skills, can get along with the rest of the team and follow objectives like they are supposed to.

In conclusion, the many benefits of K to 12 education include basic skills such as being able to read, write, count, communicate, and interact with others. Getting this kind of education not only helps your chances of landing a respectable job—it also helps you in developing the life skills you will need on your journey towards growth. Having a good education, finding a good career, adapting in the workplace, becoming a stable adult, and raising a family; that sounds like the dream, right? School might be overlooked but its importance is unparalleled. As parents or educators, their roles are just as vital as the learning process that students get from the four walls of a classroom, their job is to help the young people understand the importance of their lifestyle in school.

This is why you should find the most reliable educational institution that not only gives your children the highest quality of education but equips them with the values which are essential for making it in the real world as well.

Strengthening Early Childhood Education (Universal Kindergarten)

Every Filipino child now has access to early childhood education through Universal Kindergarten. At 5 years old, children start schooling and are given the means to slowly adjust to formal education.

Research shows that children who underwent Kindergarten have better completion rates than those who did not. Children who complete a standards-based Kindergarten program are better prepared, for primary education.

Education for children in the early years lays the foundation for lifelong learning and for the total development of a child. The early years of a human being, from 0 to 6 years, are the most critical period when the brain grows to at least 60-70 percent of adult size.

In Kindergarten, students learn the alphabet, numbers, shapes, and colors through games, songs, and dances, in their Mother Tongue.

Making the Curriculum Relevant to Learners (Contextualization and Enhancement)

Examples, activities, songs, poems, stories, and illustrations are based on local culture, history, and reality. This makes the lessons relevant to the learners and easy to understand.

Students acquire in-depth knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes through continuity and consistency across all levels and subjects.

Discussions on issues such as Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), Climate Change Adaptation, and Information & Communication Technology (ICT) are included in the enhanced curriculum.

Building Proficiency through Language (Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education)

Students are able to learn best through their first language, their Mother Tongue (MT). Twelve (12) MT languages have been introduced for SY 2012-2013: Bahasa Sug, Bikol, Cebuano, Chabacano, Hiligaynon, Iloko, Kapampangan, Maguindanaoan, Meranao, Pangasinense, Tagalog, and Waray. Other local languages will be added in succeeding school years.

Aside from the Mother Tongue, English and Filipino are taught as subjects starting Grade 1, with a focus on oral fluency. From Grades 4 to 6, English and Filipino are gradually introduced as languages of instruction. Both will become primary languages of instruction in Junior High School (JHS) and Senior High School (SHS).

After Grade 1, every student can read in his or her Mother Tongue. Learning in Mother Tongue also serves as the foundation for students to learn Filipino and English easily.

Ensuring Integrated and Seamless Learning (Spiral Progression)

Subjects are taught from the simplest concepts to more complicated concepts through grade levels in spiral progression. As early as elementary, students gain knowledge in areas such as Biology, Geometry, Earth Science, Chemistry, and Algebra. This ensures a mastery of knowledge and skills after each level.

For example, currently in High School, Biology is taught in 2nd Year, Chemistry in 3rd Year, and Physics in 4th Year. In K to 12, these subjects are connected and integrated from Grades 7 to 10. This same method is used in other Learning Areas like Math.

Gearing Up for the Future (Senior High School)

Senior High School is two years of specialized upper secondary education; students may choose a specialization based on aptitude, interests, and school capacity. The choice of career track will define the content of the subjects a student will take in Grades 11 and 12. SHS subjects fall under either the Core Curriculum or specific Tracks.

CORE CURRICULUM

Seven Learning Areas under the Core Curriculum.

  1. Languages
  2. Literature
  3. Communication
  4. Mathematics
  5. Philosophy
  6. Natural Sciences
  7. Social Sciences.

Current content from some General Education subjects are embedded in the SHS curriculum.

TRACKS

Each student in Senior High School can choose among three tracks:

  1. Academic
  2. Technical-Vocational-Livelihood
  3. Sports and Arts.

The Academic track includes three strands:

  1. Business, Accountancy, Management (BAM)
  2. Humanities, Education, Social Sciences (HESS)
  3. Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM).

Students undergo immersion, which may include earn-while-you-learn opportunities, to provide them relevant exposure and actual experience in their chosen track.

TVET (TECHNICAL VOCATIONAL EDUCATION & TRAINING) NATIONAL CERTIFICATE

After finishing Grade 10, a student can obtain Certificates of Competency (COC) or a National Certificate Level I (NC I). After finishing a Technical-Vocational-Livelihood track in Grade 12, a student may obtain a National Certificate Level II (NC II), provided he/she passes the competency-based assessment of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

NC I and NC II improves employability of graduates in fields like Agriculture, Electronics, and Trade.

NURTURING THE HOLISTICALLY DEVELOPED FILIPINO (COLLEGE AND LIVELIHOOD READINESS, 21ST CENTURY SKILLS)

After going through Kindergarten, the enhanced Elementary and Junior High curriculum, and a specialized Senior High program, every K to 12 graduate will be ready to go into different paths – may it be further education, employment, or entrepreneurship.

Every graduate will be equipped with:

  1. Information, media and technology skills,
  2. Learning and innovation skills,
  3. Effective communication skills, and
  4. Life and career skills.

Tertiary Education in the Philippines

Higher education institutions in the Philippines are either colleges or universities, and are generally classified as public or private.

Colleges are tertiary institutions that typically offer one or a few specialized courses, for example, in the sciences or in liberal arts, or in specific professional courses, such as Nursing, Computing, or Maritime Studies.

To be classified as universities, state universities and colleges (SUCs), CHED-supervised higher education institutions (CHEls), private higher education institutions (PHEls), and community colleges (CCs), must operate at least eight different degree programs. They must offer at least six undergraduate courses including a four-year course in liberal arts, a four-year course in Basic Science Mathematics, a four-year course in the Social Sciences, a minimum of three other active and recognized professional courses leading to government licensures, and at least two graduate-level courses leading to doctoral degrees. A further seven areas of requirements as universities are mandated by the Commission on Higher Education. Local government universities and colleges (LUCs) have less stringent requirements than private universities. They are required to operate at least five undergraduate programs (as opposed to eight for private universities), and two graduate-level programs.

Public tertiary education – are all non-sectarian and offer a wide-range of courses, which are taught in English. They are government funded, with the largest, the University of the Philippines, receiving the largest chunk of the annual budget.

Private universities – can be sectarian or non-sectarian, as well as for-profit or not-for-profit. Most private institutions are Catholic, non-profit entities.

Most universities offer 4 year degree programmes with 2 semesters per year. The school year is from June to March. The admission of an international student into a full-time degree course depends on secondary school grades and achievement in the Filipino College Entrance Exam. Depending on the nationality of the student a certificate of English level may also be required. Entrance to public universities is very competitive, particularly for the larger universities such as The University of the Philippines in Manila.

According to the last CHED published statistics on its website, there were 7,766 foreign nationals studying in various higher education institutions in the Philippines as of 2011–2012. Koreans were the top foreign nationals studying in the country with 1,572. The rest were Iranian, Chinese, American and Indian.

International students will need to obtain a student visa, which must be renewed each year.

Vocational Colleges

Vocational (technical) colleges serve to improve a student’s practical and technical skills. They are regulated and acredited by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). These colleges can be public, usually run by local Government, or private. The majority are privately operated.

Programmes offered vary in duration from a few weeks to two-year diplomas. Courses can be technical – automotive technology or computer technology; service based – care-giving, nurses aide, hotel manager or trade – plumbing, welding, electrician, etc.

When students graduate from their course they can take the relevant exam, administered by TESDA to obtain their diploma or certificate.

Vocational colleges don’t usually require an entrance exam, only a record of high school studies and the enrollment fee.