Dominador M. Orpilla, PhD
If a teacher will tie a rope on senior high school graduates and pull them back, where will they be now? Will a teacher be needing long or short line to draw these fishes?
Different places, different fields and different ways. The Department of Education is on its way of harvesting graduates from K to 12 curriculum. It’s been 7 years since its implementation, but the challenge remains. How competent are the Senior High School graduates? DepEd aims to make globally competitive students in four different exits: Trabaho, Negosyo, Kolehiyo and Middle level skills. K to 12 has been designed to take Philippine education on its start to economically developed and mastered competency pace of ladder to globally competitive and professionally equipped basic education. It promises students to acquire better job, promotes higher percentage of students taking up college courses, encourages young minds to pursue their creative and profitable businesses and obtain middle skills that can gear them up to expansion and improvement.
But, despite of the main thrust of DepEd, there are concerns being raised. How does one see the graduates in each academic strand today? Are they into what they are expected to be? Or educators just give them false hope and deceive them to idealism instead of leading them into life’s reality? Do they really improve the Philippine education system?
If one will try to look at students’ positions and situations, he/she may be surprised to know that senior high school graduates are still raw. They are all counting into a big and unimaginative future. If one will try to look into different schools, situations and ways of management, somehow, they ended like the old days.
Nowadays, most companies are looking for rather skilled and job-market ready graduates to help them raise their business. In particular, the K12 program aims to shape the youth for college and prepare them for the job-market. Therefore, the soon-to-graduate senior high school students should think of their next step after graduation. Is it best for them to dare the challenges of joining the workforce? Or pursue the career they’ve always wanted. For many senior high school students who want to pursue college, career choices, however, remain vague. But others, somehow, want to take on the challenges of joining the workforce. By chance, the senior high school curriculum prepares them for college. In fact, the subjects they’ve taken are prerequisites that equip them with skills to further their education. What they must do is rather to gauge the track they took and tailor it to the college course that best suits them.
On the other hand, looking into business. What does DepEd really mean ‘to produce an entrepreneur? Home Economics, SMAW, Agriculture and Fisheries. In fact, these basically are tracks where students can obtain a National Certificate wherein they are recognized as professionals on these exertions. However, educators should also be proud to see their students passing and rejoicing after a tedious and hectic practical exam to gain this certification. But ended up frustrated as these certificates are being wasted instead of using them as gate pass into rising a business. Training in a hotel, learning how to sprout seeds from the fields and building something useful using metals would be a good foundation in raising one’s own money. But what if NCs are becoming nonsense to some learners? Does the student need NC in selling fish balls along the road of her alma mater? Or even in selling in the canteens to buy his product. For these people, obtaining this certificate is not a requirement anymore. However, for some who would like to take opportunities abroad is of great help. Having a TESDA National Certificate is an advantage. It guarantees graduates in terms of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values competencies along the middle-level skills occupations. Many Filipino graduates have greater chance to work abroad especially in ASEAN countries if they are NC holders issued by TESDA. Because this NC is an evidence that one can work based on the competency standards required by such job. But still the footprint of the young graduates is not different from the paths of the old generations. K to 12 has better idea, but what seemed to be beneficial is setting into these young minds that giving their best in whatever they do is not enough. They need innovations and continuous expansion of skills and knowledge. With the growing number of Filipinos eligible for employment, it remains to be seen whether senior high school graduates will live up to the expectation of global competitiveness.