Primary and secondary education
Primary education lasts 7 years. Pupils aged 5 to 12 complete the following 3 phases:
- lower primary education (grades 1-3);
- upper primary education (grades 4-6).
Lower and upper primary education are collectively called elementary education.
K to 12 Basic Education Program
As of 2012, primary and secondary education have been reformed through the 'K to 12 Basic Education Program' (K to 12). The ‘K’ in K to 12 stands for kindergarten and the ‘12’ stands for 12 years of education (grades 1-12). The reforms were implemented in phases. As of 2012, education is compulsory starting from kindergarten. Via K to 12, secondary education has also been expanded with 2 years of upper secondary education. Upper secondary education has been compulsory since 2016.
Junior High School Diploma
After completing primary education, students can continue on to lower secondary education. In the Philippines, this is called Junior High School (JHS). Students complete Junior High School by taking exams for the Junior High School Diploma. Because K to 12 started in 2012, the Junior High School Diploma was first awarded in 2016.
- Duration: 4 years (grades 7-10).
- Content: mother tongue, Filipino, English, mathematics, science, social sciences (araling panlipunan), personnel training (Edukasyon sa Pagpapakatao, EsP), music, arts, physical education, health, home and life education (Edukasyong Pantahanan at Pangkabuhayan, EPP) and technology and livelihood education (TLE).
- Function of the diploma: access to upper secondary education (Grade 12/Senior High School Diploma).
- Diploma: Junior High School Diploma.
Grade 12/Senior High School Diploma
With a Junior High School Diploma, students can continue on to upper secondary education (Senior High School, SHS). Senior High School was introduced through the K to 12 reforms. Students first started Senior High School in 2016. The Grade 12/Senior High School Diploma was therefore first awarded in 2018.
Tracks and strands
In upper secondary education, students choose 1 out of 3 tracks:
- Technical-Vocational-Livelihood (TVL);
- Sports and Arts.
Each track has various strands. Students choose a strand and take subjects that fall under this track (track subjects).
The academic track has 5 strands:
- Accountancy, Business, Management (ABM);
- Humanities and Social Sciences (HUMSS);
- Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM);
- General Academic Strand;
- Pre-Baccalaureate Maritime.
Types of schools
Students can complete upper secondary education at a public or private school. Some schools are connected to a higher education institution. You can find an overview of schools that are allowed to offer upper secondary education on the website of the Department of Education (DepEd).
Private schools need to ask the DepEd for permission to let their students graduate. If they get permission, they receive a Special Order number (SO number) for these students. The same applies to private higher education institutions.
When students pass their school-leaving exams, they receive a Grade 12/Senior High School Diploma.
Secondary education before K to 12
Before the start of K to 12 in 2012, secondary education lasted 4 years, so 2 years shorter than now. Upper secondary education (Senior High School) did not exist. At the end of secondary education, students took exams for a High School Diploma (katibayan/katunayan).
High School Diploma (katibayan/katunayan)
The High School Diploma (katibayan/katunayan) was last awarded in 2015. These are the diplomas of students who started secondary education in 2011. They still followed the old secondary education system, because K to 12 started the following year (2012). The old and new secondary education systems therefore existed side by side for a while.
- Duration: 4 years.
- Content: largely the same subjects as in the current lower secondary education (Junior High School).
- Diploma: High School Diploma (katibayan/katunayan).