This introduction was delivered on June 17, 2016 at the RTPM-DSHS Gymnasium during our school’s Senior High School Parents’ Orientation.
A good afternoon to all of you, dear DuScian parents! Welcome to those who have been with us for the past four years and to those who are here with us today for the first time.
I’m Miss Sue Quirante. I teach Economics in the Junior High level and I am also part of our school’s K to 12 Speakers Bureau. The Speakers Bureau consisting of Mr. Amorin, Mrs. Arbas, Mrs. Labang and myself were trained in 2014 to spread the word about K to 12 and Senior High School to DepEd’s stakeholders. This is why I am here with you this afternoon.
We have been busy in the last two years making materials, presentations and exhibits. We even organized a day camp and a career panel last year to prepare our 10th graders for Senior High. We have also held orientations for parents and students just like this one. After much anticipation and perhaps even anxiety from some sectors of society, we are finally here. We are in many respects, hitting the ground running, and admittedly not as geared as we would like to be. But having recognized that, I would like us to first of all, appreciate why we are here and why we are doing what we are doing.
One problem that greatly burdened our educational system before K to 12 was how to improve the outcomes of young people in our country. From 1975 to 2004 the typical cohort survival rate in our public schools was pretty dismal. For every 100 pupils who would enroll in the first grade, we could expect only 65 of them to graduate from elementary school. Only 58 would enroll in high school of which 42 would graduate. Where do 58% of them go? Do we merely write them off as failures?
When we look at the quality of education, we didn’t fare all that much better. The TIMSS or Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study revealed that in comparison to other participating countries, our Grade 4 and Grade 8 students performed at the lowest ten percent. Internal testing by DepEd also showed that only 30% of high school freshmen had mastered grade six competencies in English, Science & Math. DuScians are part of that rare 30%. But graduating from high school did not automatically promise employment success. In 2009, data collected by DOLE revealed that the country had 972,458 unemployed high school graduates even as over 650,000 skill-based jobs were available and had no takers. This shows a mismatch between the skills that our graduates bring out of basic education and the skills that the world of work requires from them.
This is the context or the challenge that the K to 12 reform package was devised to address and Senior High School is one of its features aimed at improving the prospects of our high school graduates in both work and life. This is quite apparent when we look at the subjects being offered in Senior High. Their core subjects are mandated by CHED to ensure college readiness. Their applied and specialized subjects will help them determine what it is they really want to do in life through experiences in the classroom, through conducting applied research, and also through experiencing the responsibilities and challenges of a job during their work immersion. What Senior High School and the K to 12 Reform Program really aim to do is to provide our young people with more opportunities and better options, whether that is pursuing a college degree, landing a job or starting one’s own business. By the time they exit basic education at age eighteen they will be equipped and legally able to pursue any of these opportunities.
With such high hopes we are here. Your sons and daughters, 185 of them, are pioneers; 116 girls and 69 boys; 41 are enrolled in the ABM or Accountancy, Business & Management strand and 144 are enrolled in STEM or the Science Technology Engineering & Math strand.
We anticipated this. When we conducted preference surveys last year on our grade 8 and 9 students, we found out that out of 282 participants, a significant majority or 97.6% planned to pursue a college education after senior high school. While 6 students or 2.1% planned to seek employment and only 1 student considered starting a business. The highest course preferences were related to STEM and ABM namely Engineering (28%), Medical Technology (18%), Accountancy (15%), Medicine (14%) and Business Administration and Management (12%). This is the reason why Science High offered the Academic Track because student preference was central in the consideration of our track offerings. We also offered the General Academic Strand and the Humanities and Social Sciences Strand but these did not garner enough student demand which would allow us to open these classes.
In addition to considering our students’ preferences, the Division Office of Deped Dumaguete also conducted consultations with industries and businesses. One of the fastest-growing industries in our city with an increasing demand for employees is the IT or Information Technology industry. This is the reason behind our offering of two ICT courses under the Tech-Voc track which are Medical Transcription and Computer Programming where students earn National Certificates Level II from TESDA at the end of Senior High. We have no enrollees to these courses yet this semester but we do have the facilities and the LGU has also previously pledged its support.
Aside from consulting industry, our Division Office also closely vetted the teachers who applied for Senior High and I think it has been quite apparent during this first week alone from the impressions of your sons and daughters (you should ask them after our orientation today if you haven’t asked them yet) that our Senior High School teachers are of a different caliber. They are more than qualified. They have all either completed or are pursuing graduate studies. Some of them have industry experience or are joining us already with several years of experience teaching in the college level. Mr. Amorin will be introducing our senior high faculty this afternoon so you will get to know them all very soon.
Senior High School holds so much promise for our young people. But I understand that the new and the unknown can sometimes be a cause of fear. However, let’s consider this piece of wisdom from Einstein, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” So I hope you can in typical DuScian fashion, channel the curiosity of scientists to test new ways of doing things and solving problems. Let’s give Senior High a chance. I hope you will walk with us on the road to rebuilding our educational system so we can prepare a better future for all our children.
Once again, good afternoon to all of you.