The Department of Education (DepEd) is acknowledging the need for improvements in the senior high school curriculum as dissatisfaction with the current program remains high.
A recent Pulse Asia survey commissioned by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian revealed that only four out of ten Filipinos are content with the senior high school (SHS) program. The survey, conducted from June 19 to 23, gathered responses from 1,200 individuals, with 41 percent expressing satisfaction while 42 percent expressed dissatisfaction, and 16 percent remained undecided.
Senator Gatchalian emphasized the failure of the SHS program in preparing students for college and the workforce. He referred to a 2020 discussion paper by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, which indicated that SHS graduates do not have a clear advantage or disadvantage in terms of pay compared to Grade 10 and second-year college completers.
Gatchalian noted that the two additional years of high school had become an added financial burden for parents, resulting in students’ dissatisfaction due to their inability to see the benefits of the program.
In response to these concerns, the DepEd has taken steps to address the situation. The National Task Force for the review of the SHS program was established in May, chaired by Assistant Secretary for Curriculum and Teaching Alma Ruby Torio. This task force is tasked with reviewing the SHS program, ensuring its consistency, responsiveness, and relevance to learners’ and stakeholders’ needs.
The task force will also strengthen its engagement with private sectors and various industries to enhance graduates’ employability, collaborate on studies for program improvement, and coordinate with local government units, government agencies, and external stakeholders to ensure program success. A progress report is expected one year after its creation, before May 12, 2024.
These efforts come in the wake of former President and House Senior Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s bill proposal to revamp the country’s basic education system. If passed, this proposal would make Grades 11 and 12 (currently known as senior high school) mandatory only for those pursuing college degrees, returning the basic education system to its previous setup.
The SHS program, initiated in 2016, aimed to produce “job-ready” graduates but has faced challenges in delivering on this promise. DepEd reported that most SHS graduates opted for higher education instead of employment, and only a small proportion entered the labor force, with many choosing to continue their education.
Furthermore, a study revealed that employers favored college graduates over SHS graduates for professional work and careers, limiting the latter to rank and file, blue-collar, or clerical positions.
The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has compounded these challenges, impacting learning outcomes, skills development, employment, and the economy. The DepEd is committed to addressing these issues to ensure the quality and relevance of the SHS program in preparing students for their futures.