So, What’s With the Re-Evaluation of Your College Education Abroad?

By , on February 1, 2014

Pangarap: So, Our Journey Begins

It may seem unfortunate that, back in home country, we were required to finish both primary and secondary school in only ten years. As such, this makes us two years short of required school or academic preparation when we go abroad. Minus those two precious years, we are virtually stripped of our college degree.

In this issue, I am digressing a little bit or jumping from the chronology of topics that I had originally planned in my head for this column.  I had been so affected with what I read as recent developments in the Philippines that touch on education as a topic. That of the suicide of UP freshman student Kristel Tejada and the resistance against the K12 program of DepEd. I see the two (2) issues as very much related to one another.

It is so heartbreaking to hear about a young adolescent having to end her life only because there is no more hope being able to continue one’s studies and thus, finding a job to help the family. While I also realize that many parents in the Philippines are opposing or not agreeable to the proposed, dubbed too as ambitious, K12 program of the education ministry.

What is the DepEd’s K12 Program?

Under the program, “from the previous Grades 1 to 6 path for elementary level and first year to fourth year for high school level, the DepEd will transform the primary education to Grades 1 to 10 and will add two more years to senior high school level by 2016.”

“The K to 12 Program covers Kindergarten and 12 years of basic education (six years of primary education, four years of Junior High School, and two years of Senior High School [SHS]) to provide sufficient time for mastery of concepts and skills, develop lifelong learners, and prepare graduates for tertiary education, middle-level skills development, employment, and entrepreneurship.”

“Senior High School is two years of specialized upper secondary education; students may choose a specialization based on aptitude, interests, and school capacity. The choice of career track will define the content of the subjects a student will take in Grades 11 and 12. SHS subjects fall under either the Core Curriculum or specific Tracks.

“Each student in Senior High School can choose among three tracks: Academic; Technical-Vocational-Livelihood; and Sports and Arts. The Academic track includes three strands: Business, Accountancy, Management (BAM); Humanities, Education, Social Sciences (HESS); and Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM).

“After going through Kindergarten, the enhanced Elementary and Junior High curriculum, and a specialized Senior High program, every K to 12 graduate will be ready to go into different paths – may it be further education, employment, or entrepreneurship.”

I am lengthily quoting these pieces of information from DepEd’s Official Gazette because I am looking at K12 as not only putting the Philippines in equal footing with the rest of the educational systems of the world, but also as an answer to a kind of problem that Kristel must have had.

Can K12 Graduates Move Up?

While I honor the hardship of Filipino parents in the Philippines in sending their kids to school, I would also want us to look at K12 program with a visionary eye. Like any other form of sacrifice, the rewards are not necessarily easily harvestable. True, it extends the years that parents have to support their kids to school, especially if kids are going to private schools. It could be a real challenge.

However, after I had been assessed of my schools credentials by an international body to determine my educational level here in Canada, I felt sorry for myself that had I not taken my Master’s, I would have been reduced to only second year of college.

For many of us, graduating from the university or college is an achievement of a lifetime. It is the conclusion of years of hard work and dedication to one’s studies, taking an average of four years and even more so for those who need to review for and pass licensure examinations to cap the achievement of their diplomas.

Yet, what do you find out when your credentials are evaluated by an accredited international body? Your four-year course is almost always just equivalent to two years of college. If you had worked harder, took two more years to go for a master’s degree, then lucky you. You are now a bachelor’s degree holder!

I had my credentials evaluated and I am not sure how I felt about being downgraded to a post-secondary school or college graduate. Imagine how I went to night school for my master’s, heavy with a child at one point, to be able to get a little ahead of the pack and then being pushed back to just where you had once graduated from?

But after getting my first serious job, I realized that my fears were really unfounded. Why and my, I discovered officemates who are merely high school graduates and doing the same jobs as the college “migrants” are doing. And the more determined ones, taking up required short courses, whether those given free by the company or enrolling online on their own, do get the chance to move up and get promoted. One is now a bank officer after 5 years of doing branch work but never whining about his lack of college diploma.

How does that happen? Most possibly, his high school education or preparation made him equipped and more importantly, confident that he is armed at hitting on something big only if he is focused on what he wants and has the determination to go for it. And remember, he is Canadian and did 12 years of primary and secondary education.

If things are done right and go well, the K12 program will raise kids as confident as my officemate. I am sure of that. In which case, Filipino parents do not even need to worry about the employability of their children after high school. Then full college education may not even be necessary. Or, may be the kids may be earning enough to send themselves to college and not relying on parental support anymore.

Are Philippine Employers Ready for K12?

However, what I now view as equally important is the re-orientation of employer-companies in the Philippines to consider hiring K12 graduates to certain entry level positions. Recently, I asked a former collegue if their company accepts 3rd year college students with enough work experience in Call Center agent job, and I was informed (as I expected) that the minimum hiring requirement of the firm for any entry level position is College Graduate.  While I can respect that it is every company’s sole privilege to set their minimum standards, to me that is so disappointg and so un-K12 in the near future.

Parents’ fear of extending their school expenses for 12 years plus 4 years of college is justified if companies in the Philippines do not act in sync with the intent and spirit of implementation of K12. If that happens, then obviously the problem will not be in K12.

K12 intends to put the country in almost equal footing with the educational system with the rest of the developed countries in the world. But that is only one-half of the job. Unless the Philippines does not mind to continue to see its graduates leave and find jobs abroad.  Or to put it more aptly, unless the local employers do not mind shutting their doors to these graduates.

Ideally, speaking, then may be Kristel would not have had lost all her hope about getting a job and getting ahead even if she were only a high school graduate. Then, her journey to her pangarap, whether that be only in the Philippines or may be abroad, would not have been unfairly cut.

Nobody ever said that our journey, will be easy. But as I write and as you read, we share our strengths and we can hold to the promise that “Where two or three are gathered in My name, there I am in the midst of them,” Matthew 18:20.

Bolet is a marketing communications practitioner and dabbles in writing as a personal passion. She is author-publisher of the book:  The Most Practical Immigrating and Job Hunting Survival Guide, proven simple steps to success without the fears and the doubts. The book is available in, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo and other online bookshops worldwide, and in National Book Store and Power Books in the Philippines. Please check out