Author Topic: Philippine K-12: More comments from Filipino academic scientists  (Read 21957 times)


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Philippine K-12: More comments from Filipino academic scientists
By Dr. Flor Lacanilao

I am sharing with Forum members the note below sent to me by Dr. Francis Molina, Associate Program Director at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, commenting on the feedback from academic scientists about the Philippine K-12 as posted on,, and

Dr. Molina was extensively involved in the production of Designs for Science Literacy [AAAS, 2001, Washington, DC] and has been engaged in activities involving K-12, and development of the Science Educator’s Guide to Selecting High-Quality Instructional Materials

April 7, 2012

Subject: Re: Reviewing commentaries on Philippine K-12

Hi Flor,

Thanks for this. It really is a fallacy to think that adding more years by switching to a K-12 scheme will make students learn more. There’s just no empirical evidence for it. I think the key is unburdening the curriculum. I’ve taken the liberty of attaching Chapter 7 from our publication, Designs for Science Literacy. There’s lot of useful stuff in there, but see especially the text I highlighted on pages 211-212 and pg. 235 [Attachment].


Excerpts from Chapter 7: Unburdening the Curriculum

Here are among the many recommendations for improving the coherence and effectiveness of the K-12 curriculum, Designs for Science Literacy:

Pages 211-212:
Improvements in teaching methods and curriculum design may eventually make it possible for students to learn more than they do now, hour for hour, but the current and critical need is for them to acquire at least some important knowledge and skills better, even at the price of covering fewer topics overall. This chapter describes four strategies aimed at reallocating time—time to focus on understanding important facts, principles, and applications in science, mathematics, and technology, not time to enable still more material to be superficially covered. The underlying purpose is to realize a better cost-to-benefit ratio, using time and resources in ways that will maximize students’ eventual science literacy. The strategies are:
• Reduce the number of major topics taught.
• Prune some topics by removing unnecessary details.
• Limit technical vocabulary to essential terms.
• Eliminate wasteful repetition.

Page 235:
Before wholesale easing of the curricular burden can be attempted or accepted, educators will have to believe that reducing the number of topics, pruning ideas within topics, cutting technical vocabulary, and avoiding needless repetition are worth doing and possible.

The main point of this chapter has been to make time for teaching the most important ideas more successfully. But knowing how to expand the treatment of a smaller set of topics is not a trivial challenge. To some extent, all teachers know places where there is not enough time to do what they know needs to be done.

(Click this link to read Chapter 7: Unburdening the Curriculum)


(2)  Angel C. de Dios (Chemistry Dept, Georgetown University, Washington, DC) posted at PhilScience forum, on April 12, two links to new programs, which compares basic education in the U.S. and in the Philippines.

In the U.S.:
A study shows that longer class period gives more “Time for a rigorous and will-rounded education that prepares students for success in college and careers.” (Click this link for full report: “Time Well Spent: Eight Powerful Practices of Successful, Expanded-Time Schools”)

In the Philippines, however:
Education Secretary Armin Luistro announced… Grade 1 pupils for the school year 2012 to 2013 will be spending shorter hours in school—from six contact hours to only four hours—to make education “less stressful” and “more enjoyable” for the young learners. (Click this link for full text of news about Secretary Luistro's announcement: “Shorter hours for Grade 1”)

See also previous post of Angel de Dios by clicking this link to “First things first: A commentary on K+12.”.


(3) The following exchanges of three comments are from the JoseCarilloForum on Education and Teaching. (For full text, click this link to “A critique of some commentaries on the Philippine K-12 program.”)

Eduardo (Jay) Olaguer (Houston Advanced Research Center, 4800 Research Forest Dr, Woodlands, TX, USA):
In summary, the K+12 educational program directly addresses some of the fundamental weaknesses in the pre-university preparation of Filipino college graduates by providing more opportunity to master basic mathematical, scientific, and language skills at the much higher level demanded by global competition. There may have been many successful Filipinos who were the product of the previous 10-year cycle, but their experience is the exception to the rule.

This is the same claim made without valid support by the authors of the Philippine K-12. And, also by most nonscientists in favor of the program.

I stressed in my critique and other papers on Philippine education that the main problem of our basic education is in our higher education, not the other way around. I cited Carl Wieman, a Nobel laureate in physics and director of the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative at the University of British Columbia, in “Reinventing science education.”

Wieman says, “To be sure, the need for more and better science education has not been entirely ignored. But little of this attention has been aimed at post-secondary science education, the only level for which there is data showing how to make substantial improvements without enormous costs. Moreover, it is doubtful that great progress can be made at the primary and secondary levels until a higher standard of science learning is set at the post-secondary level.”

He adds: “Science education research clearly shows that a true understanding of science, as demonstrated by how it is practiced, is not merely about learning information. Rather, it is about developing a way of thinking about a discipline that reflects a particular perception of how ‘knowledge’ is established, its extent and limitations, how it describes nature, and how it can be usefully applied in a variety of contexts. Developing such a way of thinking is a profoundly different experience from learning a set of facts, and requires very different teaching skills.”

Jay, you are the first academic scientist I have read supporting the Philippine K-12 education program.

Eduardo (Jay) Olaguer:
You have definitely started an interesting discussion. Angel de Dios and I have been conversing off-line, only to find out that we actually agree rather than disagree. As I told him, my vote for K-12 is not a vote for government, which plays too large a role in these matters. The real issue for me is not increased access to education beyond the 10-yr cycle, but the quality of higher education. So in that sense, you and I see eye to eye. More will be gained in the long run by improving the quality of higher education than by increasing access to a diluted program, however many years it consists of. But to do this, you must take away the role of diploma mills in providing what only amounts to remedial education. By insisting on a higher standard of preparation which can be met by less comprehensive and therefore more efficient and less pretentious institutions than the typical Filipino diploma mill university, you free the best colleges and universities to improve course content and opportunities for faculty to use advanced knowledge in a way that makes a difference.

To know more about the K to 12 Basic Education Program, visit or e-mail


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Re: Philippine K-12: More comments from Filipino academic scientists
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2012, 07:06:55 PM »

For social problems, I think your faculty adviser, or one in charge of such problems, will help. But you are doing well in academics, so just keep on learning as much as you find new knowledge enjoyable. Try to ignore ang mga inggit-tero; talagang maraming ganyan. Don't let them bother you.