The widespread international commitment to realize Education for All (EFA) solidifies the inherent value of quality basic education not only for individual development but also for the overall social development of any nation. At the very least, governments are providing quality basic education to meet the basic learning needs of children, the youth, and adults. More recently, governments are pursuing “world class education” to improve their performance in international surveys such as the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). In some countries, this review led to fundamental changes in curriculum with a view to improving educational policies and outcomes.
In the Philippines, the education goal is closely linked to the Philippine EFA Plan of Action 2015 that includes Critical Task No. 5, mandating the expansion of basic education so that by 2015 the Philippines will have lengthened its cycle of basic education to 12 years. As such, President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July 2010, made it a priority to lengthen the education cycle in the country. Aligned with the current administration’s commitment, the Philippines Department of Education (DepEd) has been preparing the Kindergarten to Grade 12 (K to 12) Basic Education Program with the aid of various international organizations and members of the private sector.
The Philippine DepEd, through the National Education For All Committee (NEC), as part of its international commitment to improve the quality of EFA in the Philippines, engaged the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization Regional Center for Educational Innovation and Technology (SEAMEO INNOTECH) to undertake a regional review of the curricula of four Southeast Asian countries—Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines. The project, which began in February 2011, gathered information from several sources, including interviews, a review of literature; a survey; a workshop; as well as dialogs with country experts, educators, school officials, and curriculum development officials from Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines. Additional data on assessment models was obtained from Hong Kong, which provides seamless secondary education, for comparison.
By benchmarking the Philippine education curriculum’s content and structure, we now affirm that basic education in the country must undergo reforms to meet the demands of the twenty-first century. We are grateful to the education officials from Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines who provided us with the data to analyze. We trust that this research report will contribute valuable information to the Department of Education as it embarks on the challenging task of implementing the K to 12 basic education reform agenda in the Philippines.