Primary and secondary education in the Philippines

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.

Primary education

Primary education lasts 7 years. Pupils aged 5 to 12 complete the following 3 phases:

  • kindergarten;
  • lower primary education (grades 1-3);
  • upper primary education (grades 4-6).

Lower and upper primary education are collectively called elementary education.

Secondary education

As of the introduction of K to 12, secondary education lasts 2 years longer. It now consists of 2 phases:

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 did not exist. At the end of secondary education, students took exams for a High School Diploma (katibayan/katunayan).

Junior High School Diploma

Students complete lower secondary education 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.

  • : 4 years (grades 7-10).
  • Content: students take the following subjects:
    • 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)
    • 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.

We compare a Junior High School Diploma to a diploma.

Grade 12/Senior High School Diploma

Students complete upper secondary education diploma (Senior High School, SHS) with exams for a Grade 12/Senior High School Diploma. Senior high school was introduced through the K to 12 reforms in 2016. The Grade 12/Senior High School Diploma was therefore first awarded in 2018.

  • Duration: 2 years (grades 11-12).
  • Content: general subjects (core curriculum), electives and track subjects. Students first choose 1 out of 4 tracks. Each track has various strands. Students choose a strand within their track. The 4 tracks are:
    • Academic track with the strands Accounting, Business and Management (ABM), Humanities and Social Sciences (HUMSS), Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), General Academic Strand (GAS) and Pre-Baccalaureate Maritime (PBM);
    • Arts and Design track;
    • Sports track; or
    • Technical-Vocational-Livelihood track (TVL).
  • Admission requirements: a Junior High School Diploma.
  • Purpose of the diploma: access to higher education and secondary vocational education.
  • Diploma: Grade 12/Senior High School Diploma.

We compare a Grade 12/Senior High School Diploma - Academic track to a diploma.

Are you looking for the level of a Grade 12/Senior High School Diploma in Arts and Design, Sports or Technical-Vocational-Livelihood? Please contact us for a credential evaluation.

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).

We compare a High School Diploma (katibayan/katunayan) to a VMBO-T diploma.