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K-12 curriculum reform urgently needed

No better. This is how Senator Win Gatchalian sees the Philippines’ performance in the forthcoming Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA 2021) if no significant reforms are implemented in the K-12 curriculum.


VALENZUELA CITY, Philippines – Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture chairman Senator Win Gatchalian listens to teachers during his round table consultation visit at Malinta Elementary School, 5 Feb. 2019, . The former city mayor believes curriculum congestion compromises adequate teaching time and the students’ deeper understanding of lessons. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

In a policy forum evaluating the implementation of the K-12 program, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture emphasized that the Department of Education (DepEd) should act more quickly to reform the curriculum if the Philippines hopes to perform better in the next round of PISA. The lawmaker added that beyond a better PISA performance, curriculum reform is about enhancing the quality of education for students under the K-12 program.

PISA is a triennial study by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), which evaluates 15-year olds’ proficiency levels in Reading Comprehension, Science, and Mathematics. Results of PISA 2018 showed that out of 79 countries, the Philippines ranked lowest in Reading Comprehension and second lowest in Science and Mathematics.

“We will be taking PISA again in 2021, meaning if we don’t implement reforms immediately, don’t expect dramatic change from our scores. Curriculum reform is the fastest way of improving, we should decongest our curriculum to give our learners more time to think and our teachers more time to teach,” said Gatchalian.

A congested curriculum requiring too many competencies is one of the biggest challenges hounding the K-12 program. Because of curriculum congestion, adequate teaching time and students’ deeper understanding are compromised. It also prevents students from achieving sufficient competence in Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic, which results in the continuous presence of non-readers in the higher grades.

Gatchalian has recently filed a resolution calling for a Senate inquiry on the results of PISA 2018. According to the lawmaker, the inquiry aims to align legislative initiatives and budget priorities with DepEd’s national reform plan “Sulong EduKalidad,” which shifts focus from mere access to having quality in the basic education sector.

There are four key reform areas under DepEd’s “Sulong EduKalidad:” K to 12 curriculum review and update, improving the learning environment, teachers’ upskilling and reskilling, and engagement of stakeholders for support and collaboration.