The “Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013″ establishes the new K-12 Basic Education Program of the Philippines. The act declares:
It is the “policy of the State that every graduate of basic education shall be an empowered individual who has learned, through a program that is rooted on sound educational principles and geared towards excellence, the foundations for learning throughout life, the competence to engage in work and be productive, the ability to coexist in fruitful harmony with local and global communities, the capability to engage in autonomous, creative, and critical thinking, and the capacity and willingness to transform others and one’s self.
For this purpose, the State shall create a functional basic education system that will develop productive and responsible citizens equipped with the essential competencies, skills and values for both life-long learning and employment.”
The Act adds two years, Grade 11 and 12, to the current National Secondary Education Program. The 12-year basic education is anchored on the Bologna Accord which requires 12 years of education for university admission and practice of one’s profession in European countries, and the Washington Accord which prescribes 12 years of basic education as an entry to recognition of engineering professionals (Department of Education, 2010).
In the wake of ASEAN 2015, which envisions the coming together of ASEAN countries as one, borderless economic community by 2015, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and other government agencies have identified a number of priority areas to help address the need to increase human resource development, and research and development activities in preparation for 2015 (see e.g. NRCP, 2011; Villacorta, 2012). Science and technology are seen by government as important vehicles that can support the thrust to achieve a Philippine economy that is globally competitive and collaborative. Educational and professional qualifications will need to meet standards set with our Asian neighbors and by the rest of the world.
In anticipation of these changes in October 2011, the PSHS Board of Trustees (BOT) instructed the PSHS System Executive Director, Dr. Josette T. Biyo to take steps towards preparing a 6-year curriculum for PSHS in response to the K to 12 Basic Education Program of the government. Thus, development of the new 6-year PSHS Curriculum began.
Curriculum development commenced with the creation of the PSHS Curriculum Review Committee in October 2011. Initial discussions focused on the curriculum framework, and through consultations with various stakeholders, the PSHS Executive Committee and the Curriculum Review Committee drafted the 6-Year Curriculum Framework. A series of curriculum write-shops particularly for Grades 7 and 8 were also held. The participants included the Executive Committee, Curriculum Committee, faculty, curriculum and subject experts. The policy on Alternative Learning Activities was also drafted to supplement the proposed curriculum. In May 2012, the Board of Trustees approved the 6-Year Curriculum Framework and the revised Grade 7 Curriculum in connection with the implementation of the K to 12 Program, and was subsequently implemented in the school year 2012-2013.
Teacher training and workshops for the preparation of instructional materials for the new curriculum continues up to this day. In the conduct of the curriculum workshops, external curriculum and subject area experts (some of whom are PSHS alumni) were invited to guide the PSHS teachers and to critique their work. The Campus Directors regularly joined the workshops to provide direction to the teacher-participants.
In 2012, the Campus Directors and key officials of the Office of the Executive Director visited science-oriented schools in Taiwan and Korea for curriculum benchmarking purposes. They also attended a 4-week leadership and education program at Queensland University of Technology in Australia in 2013. As an offshoot of the training program, a team of seven campus directors and OED staff attended the Strengthening Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in the Philippine Education System from April to May 2014 in Australia. The team worked on the improvement of the 6-year curriculum with the assistance of Australian experts and through benchmarking with schools. The Australian Curriculum and the International Baccalaureate Program significantly influenced the PSHS Curriculum.
The 6-Year PSHS Curriculum
The 6-Year PSHS Curriculum describes what scholars should learn as they progress through their six years of schooling. It sets out essential knowledge, understanding, skills and capabilities that prepare students to be successful in an Science and Technology (S&T) career.
The aim of the PSHS Curriculum is to nurture scholars to become holistic individuals who are humanistic in spirit, global in perspective, patriotic in orientation, and well-prepared to pursue a STEM career which will contribute to nation-building. Through a program that is rooted in sound educational principles and geared towards excellence, it is anticipated that PSHS graduates are empowered 21st century learners with general capabilities that will prepare them to confidently pursue STEM courses as well as to become active and informed global citizens.
PSHS scholars are expected to learn the foundations for life-long learning; to develop the competence to engage in work and be productive; to gain the ability to coexist in fruitful harmony with local and global communities; to engage in critical and creative thinking; and to transform oneself and others in becoming agents of change for the betterment of society.
The general capabilities encompass the knowledge, skills, behaviors and dispositions that, together with curriculum content in various subjects, and the values they embrace, will assist scholars to be holistically-developed, globally oriented, and well-prepared to pursue STEM careers, and contribute to nation-building.
Figure 1 encapsulates the 6-Year PSHS Curriculum. It describes the core components of the curriculum namely: learner profile, general capabilities, and academic and co-curricular programs. Figure 2 shows the updated subject matrix.