Expansion of Secondary Education in the Philippines: Senior High School

For many years primary and secondary education in the Philippines was a total of 10 years (primary grades 1-6, secondary grades 7-10). When students completed grade 10 they received a diploma (Katunayan or Katibayan in Filipino) issued by the secondary school confirming completion of the secondary course. They also received a transcript issued by the secondary school listing their subjects, credits, and grades for grades 7-10. This transcript was most often called the Secondary Student’s Permanent Record or Form 137-A. Graduates from grade 10 could enroll in degree programs at colleges and universities in the Philippines.

Although reforms had been initiated earlier, in 2013 the government of the Philippines passed the Enhanced Basic Education Act, often referred to as the K-12 Law. This act made kindergarten a prerequisite for grade 1 and added two years of additional high school education onto the end of the existing system, bringing the total to kindergarten plus 12 years of primary and secondary education.

Philippines new education system now includes Senior High School. 
Image from https://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/k-12/

Senior High School, as the final two years are called, includes both core curriculum and specialized tracks. The core curriculum includes languages, literature, communication, mathematics, philosophy, natural sciences, and social sciences. For the specialization students can choose among three different tracks: Academic, Technical-Vocational-Livelihood, and Sports and Arts. Within the Academic track a student can follow one of three strands: Business, Accountancy, Management (BAM); Humanities, Education, Social Sciences (HESS); and Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM).

The new system was implemented in phases. Some schools offered grades 11 and 12 earlier, but it was not mandatory until 2016. Beginning with school year 2016-2017, students who completed grade 10 were required by law to go on to Senior High School (grades 11-12). Those who did not go on would be considered grade 10 completers, not high school graduates as in the past. Under the new system only students who have completed Senior High School (grade 12) are eligible to enroll in a degree program at a higher education institution. The first graduates from Senior High School since it became mandatory were in 2018.

Since the implementation of the reform, it’s important to check secondary documents carefully to determine what level of secondary education they represent. Students who have completed grade 10 are awarded a certificate that appears similar to the final Senior High School diploma and may be called a Katunayan. However, this certificate should specifically state that it’s for Junior High School. A diploma confirming completion of grade 12 will usually state that it’s for Senior High School (SHS) or mention completion of the six-year secondary curriculum. The SHS diploma will also often confirm the student’s educational track.

Senior High School diploma stating completion of Academic Track and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Strand

The transcripts for the different levels of secondary education may likewise appear similar. A Secondary Student’s Permanent Record may include only grades 7-10, or it may include all six years of 7-12. However, each year usually indicates its grade level, and the end of the transcript should say whether the student is eligible to proceed to grade 11 or to college (higher education). When a separate transcript is issued for grades 11 and 12, it is often called Senior High School Permanent Record (Form 137-SHS) or something similar. This transcript will also indicate the educational track the student followed and, if the student graduated, it should confirm at the end that the student is eligible to proceed to college (higher education).

Example of Philippines Secondary Students Permanent Record highlighting the location of where the grade levels are indicated

Additional information on the K-12 program can be found here: https://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/k-12/.

Karen Krug is a Research & Knowledge Management Evaluator and has been with ECE since 2010. She specializes in education from East Asia, Latin America, British Isles, and former Soviet countries. 



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