Senators: Include Chinese, Spanish languages in K to 12 curriculum

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 Two senators are recommending the inclusion of the Chinese and Spanish languages in the K to 12.

“There should be more effort to incentivize schools to provide these courses, and at an earlier level. Let’s start with those two, Chinese and Spanish, which are unique because of our history,” Senator Juan Edgardo Angara said, as reported by Rappler. Angara opened up about his intention during a Senate committee hearing on preparations for K to 12.

However, Department of Education coordinator to K to 12 Elvin Uy, noted that foreign language is not a core subject in senior high school, although it “may be offered as an elective” under the academic track’s general academic strand.

Angara said many opportunities will open up to Filipinos if the new curriculum taps into learning Spanish, especially now that the country is opening itself to cruise tourism.

“There are cruise companies which employ as many as 60 percent of Filipinos in their workforce, and some of the biggest cruisers are Spanish-speaking countries, so imagine the employment opportunities not only in the Philippines but abroad,” he added.

The point is to match the curriculum with the “internationalization of Filipinos with the view to bringing Filipinos and the jobs home.”

Meanwhile, Senator Pia Cayetano also pushes for the inclusion of the two languages, for sentimental reasons.

“I don’t know of any other country that has access to a very strong Spanish-speaking past. The generation before us… they are the last generation to speak Spanish to their children. I have friends whose parents spoke Spanish to them,” Cayetano, the chairperson of the committee on education, arts, and culture said.

Both Angara and Cayetano pointed out that it is about time to learn these foreign languages since the country is already “over those days where it detracts from our nationalism.”

‘Deteriorating’ English in PH

Meanwhile, an official from the University of the Philippine noted that the English proficiency in the country “has come down significantly” and is “deteriorating” specifically among students in public high schools and colleges.

“It’s something we need to address ourselves, and it doesn’t help that 90% of English teachers in Thailand are Filipino, so we have to find a way to keep English teachers in the country,” said Gisela Concepcion, vice president for academic affairs at the University of the Philippines.

According to Roger Bartholomew from the International Education Specialists said the K to 12 curriculum must include an assessment that will find out how students’ English is progressing.

“According to experts, English language develops in different countries, in different ways where English is used, so there is no reason why there shouldn’t be a Philippine version of English, but I believe English testing is important,” he stated.

K to 12

The K to 12 Program, as Official Gazette explained, 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.

It aims “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.”

“Naninindigan pa rin po tayo sa ipinangako nating pagbabago sa edukasyon: ang gawin itong sentral na estratehiya sa pamumuhunan sa pinakamahalaga nating yaman: ang mamamayang Pilipino. Sa K to 12, tiwala tayong mabibigyang-lakas si Juan dela Cruz upang mapaunlad—hindi lamang ang kanyang sarili at pamilya—kundi maging ang buong bansa,” said President Benigno S. Aquino III.

[I remain firm to the promise that there will be a change in our education system: to make it the main strategy in investing in the country’s most important treasure: the Filipino citizens. I am confident that K to 12, can give strength to Juan dela Cruz which will help him in improving — not only himself and his family — but the whole nation as well.]

With K to 12, Filipino children will have an access to early childhood education through Universal Kindergarten. At five years old, children will start schooling and will be 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.

Moreover, DepEd said the first batch of students to go through Senior High School (SHS) will graduate in March 2018.