TEACHER CORNER | Reading and the K-12 curriculum in the Philippines

by Maria G. Gontang
Teacher II
Bagumbayan Elementary School
Bula, Camarines Sur

As a teacher of reading, I am a daily witness to how important reading is to empowering learners to reach their full potential.

As many educators would know, reading is vital not because it is essential to pass the subject but because it unlocks an entire universe of learning and understanding.

I believe the K to 12 curriculum in the Philippines supports the endeavor to make all learners proficient readers at an early age.

This is because of how it is designed to provide sufficient time for mastery of concepts and skills, develop lifelong learners.

It does so on three counts.

First, the K to 12 curriculum emphasizes strengthening early childhood education through Universal Kindergarten. Children are introduced to the rudiments of reading such as the alphabet and the sounds at the age when the brain is fully-equipped to handle language acquisition.

Second, the K to 12 curriculum stresses contextualization. This means that examples, activities, songs, poems, stories, and illustrations are based on the local culture, history, and reality. This makes the lessons relevant to the learners and easy to understand. This is important in teaching reading because without contextualization, children find it difficult to relate and see the significance of the lessons.

Third, the K to 12 curriculum builds proficiency through the Mother Tongue in what is known as Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education. This is based on the idea that students are able to learn best through their first language, otherwise known as their Mother Tongue (MT). However, aside from the Mother Tongue, English and Filipino are taught as subjects starting Grade 1, with a focus on oral fluency. From Grades 4 to 6, English and Filipino are gradually introduced as languages of instruction.

With the support of the DepEd and the Philippine government through the K to 12 curriculum, Filipino learners are mostly well-equipped with the tools for reading proficiency.

However, there continues to be many challenges to achieving such reading proficiency which must also be addressed.

For example, poor nutrition, especially during the early years is said to correlate with poor reading proficiency. Another challenge is a lack of exposure to early interactions that encourage linguistic development. Further, poor development in social and emotional skills may contribute to poor reading proficiency.

As a teacher, it is my responsibility to work towards hurdling these challenges. I therefore seek the support of my local community, especially the stakeholders in education, so that I may be the most effective reading teacher I can be for the sake of our youth. Together, let us make our youth, especially the underprivileged ones, excellent readers so they have a better chance at a good and comfortable life.