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Friday, June 3, 2011

Weighing the Pros and Cons: MANDATORY KINDERGARTEN PROGRAM


Mrs. Magnarelli's Kindergarten logo (Google Photos)

“The Philippines is the only remaining country in Asia with a ten-year pre-university program, resulting to an insufficient mastery of basic competencies due to congested curriculum.” This is a statement by CEO VI Director III of Department of Education - Cordillera (DepEd-CAR) Teresita Velasco who proves that our country needs to change the year of our educational system from ten to twelve years.

Last year, the K+12 program was approved by President Benigno Aquino III. It composed of kindergarten and twelve years of elementary and secondary education which adds two years in high school. Recently, the mandatory implementation of universal kindergarten will be effective this coming school year. It requires five year old children to enter kindergarten before they enroll to first grade in elementary school. Velasco explained that the universal kindergarten education aims to ensure readiness of the children to enhance their social skills and creativity at an early age which will help them to cope with their new environment when they enter grade school. In addition, Aurora Rep. Jose Edgardo Angara said the introduction of pre-school education should improve the quality of education in the public school system.

In order to meet the expectations in this program, most public schools are adding classrooms for upcoming kindergarten pupils. Besides, they also made the classrooms child-friendly and conducive to learning from the environment, instructional materials, facilities, and even the teachers were giving free educational materials and toys for the enrollees.

Many people agree on this program but there are others who are not favor on it. The reasons include lack of financial support for education, lack of academic preparedness in part of teachers and the idea that pre-school education should not be mandatory. There is a columnist believed that mandatory kindergarten program is not the solution to problems in education, but it relies on the improvement of teaching quality in secondary schools.

The question here is are we ready for the K+12 program especially the universal kindergarten? In fact, we should be prepared in the change of our educational system in order to meet the educational needs of our citizens and to improve the educational competencies of our country. As a matter of fact, it all started in home where parents teach their children on basics such as writing, reading, counting and socialization and they should guide and motivate them to have their interest in studying. Then, if the children are prepared enough to study, they can enroll in formal schooling which starts in pre-school where the basic knowledge, skills and values learned from home will enhance with the help of teachers, classmates and the subject matter taught in the class. In addition, pre-school education is different from first grade of elementary schooling. In the previous years, there are cases where a pupil didn’t go to pre-school and they enrolled directly to grade one. Although they have similarities in terms of learning the basic concepts, there are still few differences in terms of level of the subject matter and competencies.

For the pre-school teachers, they should choose the appropriate teaching strategies and classroom discipline for the learners and show their expertise in teaching the pupils for the better educational system of our country. Besides, the government and non-government sectors should invest on education for the salary of teachers, educational materials, and facilities in order to gain improvement in quality of education.

Therefore, the universal kindergarten program is a big help for improving the quality of education in our country, as well as the learners in public school. Being in kindergarten is the first step in having their basic education in terms of learning the basic concepts, skills and values in this level.

Sources:
Kindergarten officially mandatory this year – Baguio News

House Okays kindergarten bill – Jess Diaz, Philippine Star

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