(File photo)

MANILA – The House Committee on Basic Education and Culture will prioritize significant reforms in the K-12 curriculum, particularly aimed at improving functional literacy in the Philippines, its chairman said on Thursday.

During a Laging Handa briefing, Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo said the present K-to-12 curriculum is congested with learning competencies, stressing the need to reduce the number to the most essential.

Romulo said it is crucial to start reviewing and reducing the curriculum in Kindergarten and Grades 1 to 3 to develop their functional literacy or their practical skill set needed to read, write, and use math for their common life activities.

"Talagang foundational po diyan eh. Ang kailangan po ay siguraduhin ng DepEd (Department of Education) po at ng Kongreso na ang bawat mag-aaral natin ay matuto pong magbasa at naiintindihan iyong kanilang binabasa, at syempre po kaunting mathematics (That is really foundational. DepEd and Congress need to ensure that every learner would be able to read and comprehend, and also do basic mathematics)," he said.

"Kailangan po dito talagang functional literacy lang iyong ating siguraduhin na maibahagi sa mga estudyante. Kasi ngayon po sa totoo lang ano, kahit tingnan po ninyo, napakaraming subjects po, sa Grade 1 pa lamang ang dami na po. Habang umaangat ka, Grade 2 pa lang aangat ka na sa walong subject kaagad (We need to make sure that we are able to develop the functional literacy of the students. Because honestly, they are overwhelmed by a lot of subjects, even in Grade 1. If they move to Grade 2, they have 8 subjects already)," he added.

Aside from functional literacy, Romulo said amendments must be made to achieve the K-12 promise of employment after graduation from senior high school.

"Ang sabi po noong ating mga magulang, mga estudyante ay ang sinabi po noong K-12 noong pinasa iyon noong 2012/2013 na kapag nag-graduate iyong anak namin iyong K-12 sa kahit na anong track ay ready na sila na makapagtrabaho o kunin po sila ng mga iba-ibang mga industriya natin. Pero sabi rin ng mga magulang pero parang hindi naman iyan ang nangyayari eh… iyon din naman ang sinabi ng mga ibang estudyante. Kaya doon pa lamang ngayon meron na tayong mga proposals po (Parents and students have been saying when the law on K-12 was passed in 2013 that graduates from any track would be ready for work or could be hired by industries. But parents claim that it's not happening... Even students also claim that. That's why we have proposals to address that)," he said.

He particularly pointed out a proposal to improve the arts and design track through the creation of the Philippine High School for the Creative Arts System.

"Arts and design po, may proposal na po kami at hopefully rin po ay ma-adopt ng sa Senate po natin at gusto po natin ma-revise iyong curriculum diyan. Kasi ang importante po diyan mabigyan po natin talaga ng proper training iyong ating mga kabataan na gusto po nila sa arts and design (We already have a proposal to (improve the) arts and design track. Hopefully, it would also get adopted in the Senate since we want to revise its curriculum. What is important is to give proper training to the youth who want to pursue arts and design)," he said.

He noted that a similar measure had been passed by the House of Representatives on the third and final reading during the previous 18th Congress.

“For the creative arts or arts and design, that is the same proposal, that we create a special curriculum for those who wish to enter into the arts and design or the creative arts,” he said in a manifestation before panel members.

He said the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the Cultural Center of the Philippines need to be tapped for their expertise in designing the curriculum and inspiring the youth to enter the creative arts system. (PNA)