View Full Version : SCHOOL IS IN: Education Here, There, Everywhere

Sam Miguel
03-26-2013, 10:17 AM
We don't have a thread yet on education. Post your thoughts, opinions, news articles, heck even thesis papers, dissertations and positions papers here if you're feeling up to it. You might even get a free peer review.

Sam Miguel
03-26-2013, 10:18 AM
The K+12 debate


By Isagani Cruz | Updated October 14, 2010 - 12:00am

The public debate about K+12 has started. As in any debate, there is a government side and an opposition side. At this point, each side has presented its own arguments. The next step is for each side to rebut or demolish the other side’s arguments.

On the government side, in the discussion paper it disseminated during its press conference last Oct. 5, the Department of Education (DepEd) has given at least nine reasons for the K+12 project:

1. “Enhancing the quality of basic education in the Philippines is urgent and critical.”

2. “The poor quality of basic education is reflected in the low achievement scores of Filipino students. One reason is that students do not get adequate instructional time or time on task.”

3. International test results consistently show Filipino students lagging way behind practically everybody else in the world. In the 2008 mathematics exam, for example, we came in dead last.

4. “The congested curriculum partly explains the present state of education.” Twelve years of content are crammed into ten years.

5. “This quality of education is reflected in the inadequate preparation of high school graduates for the world of work or entrepreneurship or higher education.” If ten years were adequate, how come employers do not hire fresh high school graduates? How come most high school graduates flunk the UPCAT?

6. “Most graduates are too young to enter the labor force.” Since most children start Grade 1 when they are 6 years old, they do not reach the legal employable age of 18 when they graduate from high school today.

7. “The current system also reinforces the misperception that basic education is just a preparatory step for higher education.” Why prioritize the minority of high school graduates that go to college?

8. “The short duration of the basic education program also puts the millions of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), especially the professionals, and those who intend to study abroad, at a disadvantage. Our graduates are not automatically recognized as professionals abroad.” The best examples are our engineering graduates, who are condemned to international jobs not befitting their professional status due to our not having a 12-year basic education cycle.

9. “The short basic education program affects the human development of the Filipino children.” If we believe that 17-year-old high school graduates are emotionally, psychologically, and intellectually mature, why do we require them to get parental consent before they get married?

On the other hand, those opposing the plan put forward the following arguments:

1. Parents have to shell out more money (for transportation and food) for the education of their children.

2. The government does not have the money to pay for two more years of free education, since it does not even have the money to fully support today’s ten years. DepEd must first solve the lack of classrooms, furniture and equipment, qualified teachers, and error-free textbooks.

3. We can do in ten years what everyone else in the world takes 12 years to do. Why do we have to follow what the rest of the world is doing? We are better than all of them. Filipinos right now are accepted in prestigious graduate schools in the world, even with only ten years of basic education.

4. As far as the curriculum is concerned, DepEd should fix the current subjects instead of adding new ones. The problem is the content, not the length, of basic education. As an editorial put it, we need to have better education, not more education.

5. A high school diploma will not get anybody anywhere, because business firms will not hire fresh high school graduates.

6. Every family dreams of having a child graduate from college.

7. While students are stuck in Grades 11 and 12, colleges and universities will have no freshmen for two years. This will spell financial disaster for many private Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).

8. The drop-out rate will increase because of the two extra years.

(If there is any objection that I have not yet heard, please send me a message through the Philippine STAR website or through my Facebook account.)

The government has not yet shown the arguments of the opposition to be fallacious. It is true that, when asked about the issue during his 100-day town hall meeting, President Aquino mentioned the economic benefits of the plan, particularly its expected contribution of roughly two percent to GDP. As of this writing, however, the government is still focusing largely on having its arguments understood by the public.

The opposition has been very vocal airing its arguments not only in newspapers, on radio, and on television, but even in the parliament of the streets. As of this writing, however, I have not heard the opposition rebut the arguments of the government. In fact, as far as I can see, they have refused to even listen to the government.

Since this is a public debate, we have to move from constructive speeches to rebuttal. Next week, I shall start examining the arguments of both sides to see if they are reasonable. (To be continued)

TEACHING TIP OF THE WEEK: “Have a plan but be willing to trash it.” This advice from Muriah Summer is supposed to be about teaching language to two-year-olds, but it also applies to teaching any subject to adolescents and adults.

Sam Miguel
03-26-2013, 10:21 AM
What is the K+12 plan?


By Isagani Cruz | Updated October 21, 2010 - 12:00am

In any debate, the debaters first agree on what to debate about. In the public debate about K+12, many participants have differing ideas about what exactly DepEd has embarked on.

To understand the plan better, let us go a bit into the process of implementing it.

This year, School Year (SY) 2010-11, DepEd will design the K+12 curriculum (for convenience, let us call it the Enhanced Basic Education Curriculum or EBEC).

In the case of mathematics, for example, DepEd will sit down with mathematicians from universities, as well as with industry representatives, to identify the set of mathematical facts and skills needed by an 18-year-old entering college or joining the job market. This set is variously called “Minimum Learning Competencies” (or simply “Competencies”), “Qualifications,” or “Outcomes.” These competencies will then be assigned to one of the 12 grade levels in order of importance and difficulty.

Students already in public school will continue to follow the current Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) and will graduate, as they expect, after Fourth Year High School.

Next year, SY 2011-12, DepEd will try to get all five-year-olds to go to Kindergarten.

DepEd has taken seriously the findings of researchers that Grade 1 students should not stay for more than four hours in school (the research has to do with learning capacity). Since Grade 1 students will go home earlier, classrooms will be freed to take in Kindergarten students. There will, therefore, be no need for more classrooms nor more teachers. (Grade 1 teachers can teach Kindergarten.)

Meanwhile, DepEd will start training teachers in the new curriculum (for convenience, let us call it the Enhanced Basic Education Curriculum or EBEC). To continue using Mathematics as our illustration, notice that a major difference between BEC and EBEC is that the academic track of EBEC has Calculus in Grade 12, but BEC does not have Calculus at all.

In SY 2012-13, students entering Grade 1 and Grade 7 (First Year High School) will follow EBEC. Instead of having to cram 12 years’ worth of subjects into 10 years, they will go deeper, more leisurely, and more effectively into those subjects.

In SY 2013-14, SY 2014-15, and SY 2015-16, high school students will continue through Grades 8 to 10.

At the end of SY 2015-16, all students will attend graduation ceremonies and receive a diploma. (DepEd is still deciding whether the diploma will be called Junior High School Diploma or simply High School Diploma.)

Students will then have four options. First, they can just leave the educational cycle completely and live unhappily ever after with their (Junior) High School Diploma. Second, they can immediately apply for admission to Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). Third, they can take two extra years (Grades 11 and 12) to prepare for college; this is the academic track or college preparatory Senior High School (SHS). Fourth, they can go to the technical or TESDA track of SHS to acquire specialized skills required by companies hiring 18-year-olds.

In SY 2016-17, students taking the second option can seek admission to college. (Remember that HEIs are constitutionally guaranteed academic freedom, which includes the right to impose or not to impose admission standards.)

It is important to realize that the Bologna Process, the Washington Accord, foreign graduate schools, and so on require that our basic education system should have 12 years; they do not require that an individual undergo 12 years of basic education. (If I may be immodest, I can cite myself as an example. I was accelerated twice in elementary school and graduated at 14 from high school. That did not keep me from being admitted into a nationally-ranked American doctoral program through a Fulbright grant.)

Of course, unless they are exceptionally smart, students entering an engineering, economics, or similar program will find that not having taken Calculus in Grade 12 will be a major disadvantage. Average students will be forced to take extra college years doing Calculus (and all the other academic subjects offered in Grades 11 and 12), in the same way that HEIs are currently doing remedial work through the General Education Curriculum (GEC).

Still in SY 2016-17, students taking the third option will be taking subjects taken by high school students everywhere else in the world (for example, Calculus). They will also have two more years of English, Filipino, Math, Science, and Social Studies (Makabayan), which will then allow them to fulfil the expectations spelled out in the proposed Revised GEC (“The GE program assumes that high school graduates applying for admission into an HEI will have the linguistic, scientific, mathematical, and creative knowledge and skills necessary for higher-level academic work. In particular, GE courses presume higher-order thinking, speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills that students should already have before they are admitted as tertiary students.”)

Students taking the fourth option will have several specializations open to them. These specializations will be determined by the industries that have already committed to hire SHS graduates. At the end of Grade 12, a technical student will earn not just an SHS diploma, but a TESDA certification and, more important, job offers. DepEd has even thought of a way to help technical SHS graduates that decide to go to college anyway. (To be continued)

Sam Miguel
03-26-2013, 10:22 AM
K+12 for the poor


By Isagani Cruz | Updated October 28, 2010 - 12:00am

President Noynoy Aquino has boldly stated, in so many words, that at the end of his six-year term he wants to be known primarily for two achievements – that he made corruption the exception rather than the rule and that there were fewer poor Filipinos when he left Malacañang than when he was elected president. In short, he considers corruption and poverty to be the main enemies of his administration.

The K+12 plan should be seen in the context of the government’s war against poverty.

The statistics are too familiar. One out of every 10 Filipino children never steps into a school. Out of every 100 that do enter Grade 1, only 86 make it to Grade 2 and only 76 finish Grade 3. Only 65 finish Grade 6 and only 58 continue to high school. Only 43 finish four years of high school and only 23 enrol in college (of whom 15 go to private HEIs). Finally, only 14 finish an undergraduate degree.

Right now, only those 14 have a realistic chance of getting a good job or setting up a successful business. The K+12 plan addresses the needs of the 86 that do not get a college degree. The plan gives these 86 two more years of free education that should give them enough skills to get a good job or to put up a successful business enterprise.

That is one side of the debate. Here is the other side. (In order to be exhaustive, as well as fair, I will discuss only one point per side every week.)

Opponents of the K+12 plan point out that, even if the two more years of education were free, parents still have to shell out money for transportation, clothes, food, projects, and incidentals. That most parents cannot afford the extra two years is shown by the government statistics themselves. The primary reason for dropping out of school is economic. Parents would rather have their children stay uneducated than risk entire families going hungry or getting into indescribable debt. The plan, according to its opponents, worsens rather than lessens poverty.

Since I said last week that I would show the weaknesses of both sides of the debate, let me ask the question, what is wrong with both sides?

Proponents of the K+12 plan should not make it appear (even unwittingly) that they have found a cure-all for our problems with education. The plan will indeed, as I will discuss in future columns, solve some curriculum-related problems, but it will not solve all the other problems (classrooms, teachers, textbooks, teacher training, drop-out rate, corruption, and so on). In particular, it does not solve the problems of the 57 that do not finish four years of high school at all.

The plan attempts to help only the 20 that finish four years of high school but do not go on to college (that’s 43 minus 23). It is these 20 that will be given another chance to raise their quality of life. Even the 8 that go to public HEIs might want to just earn a high school diploma instead of working for a four-year college degree; they could also be helped by the plan. We are, therefore, talking of only at least 20 and at most 28 beneficiaries. (Of course, you have to multiply those percentages by the total school-age population.)

If the expectations from the plan were kept limited, it would be much easier to sell to the public. After all, the 57 that do not even get to finish four years of high school will not be affected by the additional two years and should not join the debate. The 15 that go to private HEIs presumably have some money and would be minimally affected by the additional years.

Opponents of the plan, on the other hand, have a credibility problem. Practically all of them do not belong to the 20 to 28 that will benefit from the plan, since they are college graduates. There is clearly something very wrong with privileged people trying to keep those that drop out after high school from having another two years of free education.

The argument against the opponents, however, need not stay on the ad hominem level (shooting the messenger rather than listening to the message). The Work Minus Two argument (that I wrote about in an earlier column) shows that parents actually save money by accepting the K+12 plan. Instead of having to pay college tuition and incidentals (transportation, food, etc.) for four years, parents need to pay for only two more years of allowances. The poor parents of the 20 to 28 can now look forward to their children earning money after the technical track of Senior High School.

We should, therefore, stop talking of parents objecting to the extra two years. Once explained properly to them, the K+12 plan will be acceptable to poor parents. In fact, in 2003, SWS conducted a nationwide survey asking parents (rich and poor) if they would object to adding Grade 7 to elementary school and 70% said they wanted the extra year, with the figure constant across economic classes and across geographical regions. Parents clearly want children in public schools to have a longer basic education cycle. (To be continued)

Sam Miguel
03-26-2013, 10:27 AM
Changing the curriculum


By Isagani Cruz | Updated September 30, 2010 - 12:00am

Changing a curriculum is a very complicated process. It is not just a matter of adding a subject here and removing a subject there. It is not even just a process of revising a particular syllabus or updating it or using a different teaching strategy.

In order to understand how complicated designing a curriculum is, let us take a simple example.

In what year of the educational cycle should we teach human reproduction? Clearly, we cannot wait until students are 18 years old, because they could legally get married by that time. On the other hand, to take a non-controversial method encouraged by the Catholic Church, there is no point teaching the rhythm method to children who have not yet reached puberty. How old should children be when we discuss anatomy and physiology in class? What grade level would they be in when they are at that age?

Here you can see that the issue of whether a child should be in Grade 1 at age 4, 5, or 6 involves looking ahead to the time they will become parents. For the sake of the example, let us say we decide that we should teach family planning to 17-year-olds. In the current cycle with six-year-olds in Grade 1, the children would likely be in Second Year College. In the planned 12-year cycle, they would be in the last year of High School. Who will worry about responsible parenthood? DepEd or CHED? We immediately face pedagogical and bureaucratic issues.

When should students learn about pedophilia? When should they learn about the ethical implications of premarital sex, contraception, and abortion? In fact, we would have to decide a prior question: should schools teach human reproduction at all or should we leave it all up to parents or to human instinct? Even more prior than that is the philosophy of teaching: are teachers surrogate parents? (In the old days, we called that “in loco parentis,” or taking the place of parents whose children are in school.)

If we expand the topic a bit, we would have to decide when to take up issues such as overpopulation, stem cell research, divorce, even citizenship and nationalism (should pregnant women try to migrate to the US in order to have their children born Americans?).

That is only one of several areas of learning that we have to worry about when we design a curriculum.

Unfortunately for teachers, the world is rapidly changing. Technology and climate change are only two of the major factors why teachers cannot merely pass on to their students what they learned when they themselves were in school. Before the 21st century, the Department of Education (DepEd) would take ten years or so to change the curriculum. Today, a curriculum, no matter how well put together, becomes outdated in much earlier than ten years.

When a curriculum becomes outdated, we (not just teachers, but also parents and students) have to get together to revise it. There are many steps we have to take.

For example, we have to begin by figuring out which elements of the current curriculum are already outdated.

Let us take another simple example – the curriculum for teaching English to Filipinos. There have been a number of major changes in the English language itself. For one thing, linguists now recognize several major varieties of English, including Philippine English. (Several books on Philippine English have been published, including a dictionary.) There is now no “standard English” that may be said to be universally correct. (A simple example is “Ateneo beat FEU,” which is correct in the UK but wrong in the USA. In case it is the other way around this afternoon, make that “FEU beat Ateneo.”)

Linguists have also realized that usage has changed a lot of old grammatical rules. A simple example is the previously ungrammatical “Everyone had their own idea,” which is considered today as perfectly correct. The older form, “Everyone had his own idea,” is now considered unacceptable, due to its implication that women are not part of the human race.

Because we have to teach according to what we know, we cannot teach English the way we used to. We have to change minimum learning competencies, lesson plans, examinations, outcomes, textbooks, even teacher training, because research forces us to do so. We also cannot change just the teaching of English in college. We have to change the teaching of English at the elementary and high school levels, because we cannot teach Grade 6 students that “his” refers to both male and female and then tell them when they reach college that we lied.

That is just English. Also changing rapidly today is the way we should be teaching Filipino, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, and so on. (To be continued)

TEACHING TIP OF THE WEEK. Here is an activity recommended by the University of California, San Diego:

“Student-Generated Questions: Ask students to provide questions for discussion. These can be written out beforehand, or generated in brief small group sessions during class. Such questions can also be the basis for review sessions. In science or math classes, students can create problems for each other to solve, which helps them understand key concepts behind problem-solving techniques.”

Sam Miguel
03-26-2013, 10:27 AM
The enhanced curriculum


By Isagani Cruz | Updated October 7, 2010 - 12:00am

Revising a curriculum is no easy task.

After we find out which parts of the curriculum have to be changed, we have to structure the entire curriculum. It is like decorating a room. Let us say that you want to put up a painting on a wall. You have to remove whatever is on that wall, make sure that the pieces of furniture in the room do not clash with the colors in the painting, move your armchair a bit nearer or farther away from the painting in order to be able to view it properly, and so on. You cannot change one small part of something without thinking about the entire thing.

We also cannot change the curriculum in midstream. We cannot suddenly tell Fourth Year high school students that they will not graduate because they have to take Fifth Year. Ethically, schools and students agree on an unwritten contract that the curriculum at the time of enrolment will be the same curriculum at the time of graduation. This is the reason the Department of Education (DepEd) introduces a new curriculum only after ten or more years. DepEd has to wait until those already in Grade 1 graduate from high school (after the present ten years of basic education). A completely new curriculum can be imposed only on those coming in as Grade 1.

Under certain circumstances, it is possible to revise only the high school curriculum. Even in this case, we have to wait until those already in First Year have finished Fourth Year (under the present system).

After drawing up a curriculum on paper (including such things as expected competencies, prerequisites, qualifications, learning areas, scope, coverage, and outcomes), curriculum designers have to think about the textbooks and other instructional materials that will have to be created for the new or revised subjects. Although teacher training is a separate process, curriculum designers also have to give pointers on how teachers should be trained to handle the subjects. There also has to be some way to determine if and when the curriculum needs to be revised; this is called program assessment or evaluation.

Before full implementation, there usually is a year-long pilot to debug the curriculum, as well as a longer transition period within which some students will be following the old curriculum and some following the new.

In short, changing the curriculum cannot be done haphazardly or quickly. It will take some time to get students to follow the new curriculum, particularly one that will take 12 years rather than ten.

It is not just a matter of spreading out the ten-year curriculum into 12 years. It is also not just a matter of adding new subjects in the two additional years. Curriculum design is holistic and comprehensive. It has to be rational and deliberate. Otherwise, as the opponents of President Aquino’s plan to extend the basic education cycle say, we will just be adding two more years of bad education.

The rapid changes in the world have made curriculum design even more difficult. We have to revise the subjects according to what our students will face 12 years from now. As the Web video “Did You Know?” puts it, “we are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist.”

DepEd’s enhanced curriculum aims to meet the overall objective of preparing children for productive work, either as employees or entrepreneurs, while maintaining its current academic thrust.

The DepEd model includes, among other things, the introduction of work-related subjects across the curriculum, the establishment of special Science Sections and Arts Sections, the offering of specialized subjects (such as Agriculture, Fisheries, IT, Security, Sports, and others) for those with no aptitude nor desire to continue to college, and the bringing down to the high school level of several subjects now offered as part of the General Education Curriculum of CHED (such as English, Filipino, General Science, and Math, including Calculus). In short, DepEd is not going to have two more years of the same, but 12 revitalized years of 21st century education.

By the way, I wrote this column before Secretary Armin Luistro unveiled the official DepEd plan last Tuesday (my deadline was Monday). I based my previous columns, as well as this one, on earlier drafts of the DepEd plan. I will write about the official plan in future columns.

TEACHING TIP OF THE WEEK. Here’s a teaching tip from the British Council:

“Keep in tune with the class. Don’t just glide along with the best. If one student answers your questions this is not proof that all the others are following what is being discussed. Aim for responses from as wide a sample as possible. Don’t just accept answers from the three or four class leaders or you will leave the rest behind.”

Good students will learn whether teachers teach them well or not. The test of a good teacher is whether poor students become good students by the end of a term or year.

RETURN TO THE 18TH CENTURY: There is still time to visit the Galleon Andalucia, a replica of an 18th-century galleon. It is docked at Pier 13 at the South Harbor, where the public can board it (until Saturday) and see what life must have been like for the first OFWs.

Sam Miguel
03-26-2013, 10:28 AM
Better or more?


By Isagani Cruz | Updated November 18, 2010 - 12:00am

DepEd has realized that “the congested curriculum partly explains the present state of education.” Twelve years of content are crammed into ten years. Other countries teach in 12 or more years what we are forced to teach in only 10 years. Students do not have time to understand what they are learning, but are forced simply to memorize facts at breakneck speed. As a result, we always score dismally in international tests in mathematics and science.

Opponents of the plan, on the other hand, argue that quantity does not mean quality. As one editorial writer put it, we need better education, not more education. What is wrong with the present curriculum, these critics say, is not that it is congested but that it is misguided. As far as the curriculum is concerned, DepEd should fix the current subjects instead of adding new ones.

In a debate, one takes extreme positions, but in real life, nothing is completely white nor completely black. The truth lies somewhere in between.

To correlate “worse or better” to “less or more” is simply not to know English. These two pairs of words are apples or oranges, or to localize the idiom, bananas and papayas.

Let me take a simple example taken from our national passion. If you put LeBron James and Kobe Bryant (or alternatively, James Yap and Asi Taulava) playing as one team (yes, just two of them) and five of our high school basketball players on the other team, I can bet you Manny Pacquiao’s tax payments that the dynamic duo will outscore the younger team by dozens of points. On the other hand, if you let two of our best high school players play five professional American or Filipino players, I can bet you the entire bank accounts of everybody in the BIR’s list of top taxpayers that these two, no matter how talented, will not outscore the professionals.

In other words, quantity has nothing to do with quality. More can be worse or better, just as less or few can be worse or better.

For the sake of those that hate basketball, let me take an even simpler example. Give me two pieces of bread, one of which is freshly baked, the other a week old. The one freshly baked can be very small, but it will definitely be better than the other one, no matter how big that other one is. On the other hand, I would love to have a bigger piece of the one freshly-baked, rather than a smaller piece of the stale one. Again, quantity is independent of quality.

Ten years of bad education are better than 12 years of bad education, but worse than 10 or 12 years of good education. Twelve years of good education are better than ten years of good education and better than 10 or 12 years of bad education. If that confuses you, do not despair, because it confused the editorial writer, who is supposed to be more intelligent than newspaper readers.

In fairness (as we Filipinos say), DepEd has not been given enough time to explain properly what it means by “congested curriculum.” A curriculum is not something that you expand like a rubber band that can hold 12 or 12 sheets of paper. Take an example from 3rd year High School or Grade 9. You should not teach Rizal’s Noli to both Grades 9 and 10 just because you want to decongest the curriculum. Instead, you might decide to have Grade 11 students read the whole novel rather than just a summary of it (which is what usually happens today).

What DepEd is doing right now is redesigning the curriculum from Kindergarten to Grade 12. That means doing away with the some subjects altogether, recasting other subjects, and adding new ones. A simple example has to do with reading. Before Noynoy became president, DepEd wanted to make every child a reader by Grade 3. Noynoy promised to make every child a reader by Grade 1. This means that lessons meant for Grade 3 now have to be given in Grade 1, and Grade 2 will have to change its entire reading curriculum, since every pupil will already know how to read.

Tomorrow, at FUSE, I am hosting the Second Curriculum Summit, with participants from DepEd, CHED, TESDA, DSWD, ECCDC, other government agencies, public and private schools, and business organizations. The Summit hopes to come up with a grid that will map the curriculum from pre-school to graduate school. Quality will be the order of the day, not quantity. (To be continued)

TEACHING TIP OF THE WEEK. The teaching training program of Waseda University in Tokyo was adopted by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. This is the account by Kazuyuki Sakatsume: “In this program, our philosophy was the following: ‘Training for teachers should be on a par, or better than, training for doctors.’ Moreover, we set as our goal the cultivation of highly expert teachers who would be able to make an educational ‘diagnosis’ of (understand) a child, to formulate a ‘prescription’ (teaching plan) based on sound premises, and to implement concrete and effective ‘treatment’ (coaching or instruction).”

Sam Miguel
03-26-2013, 10:33 AM
K+12 and HEIs


By Isagani Cruz | Updated November 25, 2010 - 12:00am

One of the objections raised against DepEd’s K+12 plan is its supposedly disastrous effect on Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).

The argument goes this way. If two years will be added to basic education, HEIs will not have freshmen for two years, because students will be stuck in Grades 11 and 12 or Senior High School (SHS). Private HEIs will go bankrupt without two new batches of tuition-paying students.

At first glance, the argument seems correct, because First Year College right now is, in effect, Grade 11 (after Fourth Year High School, which is Grade 10). Since Grades 11 and 12 (the latter would be Second Year College in today’s system) will be taken over by DepEd, private HEIs will have no freshmen and sophomores for two years and decreased enrolment for juniors and seniors afterwards.

The problem with this argument is that it is simplistic. It assumes that all college-bound students leaving Grade 10 will go to SHS and that HEIs have no role to play in SHS.

In the K+12 plan, students leaving Grade 10 may go directly to college if they wish to. HEIs are constitutionally guaranteed academic freedom, which includes the freedom to choose who to teach. Any HEI may, at its discretion, take anyone with any kind of educational background. Of course, for the sake of argument, if an HEI takes a Grade 6 student as a freshman (I hate the more politically correct but ugly-sounding words “froshie” or “freshperson”), the student will suffer not only academically, but socially. There are, however, a number of famous cases where world-ranked universities have taken child geniuses as students. (The TV series Doogie Howser was based on such real-life cases.)

In the first two years of the implementation of SHS, in other words, there will still be some students going to HEIs. These students need not be geniuses, although HEIs would be happy with those. They could simply be students eager to go to college. This is not, however, the real reason that the fear of HEIs is exaggerated.

HEIs have a role to play in DepEd’s plan.

First of all, DepEd does not plan to build new classrooms and to hire new teachers for all the students in SHS. Instead, it plans to rely on the cooperation of HEIs, particularly State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) and Local Universities and Colleges (LUCs). These SUCs and LUCs have the classrooms that can be used by SHS students. Since there is an SUC or an LUC in every municipality or province, students do not have to travel far from their homes to attend classes. Teachers of General Education (GE) subjects in these SUCs and LUCs can be tapped to teach SHS, since many of the subjects will be the subjects currently in the GE Curriculum (GEC).

What about private HEIs, which make up the bulk of colleges and universities?

We have to distinguish between those private HEIs that offer basic education and those that do not. Those that already hold high school classes on their campuses or on extension campuses need only to reassign their GE teachers to SHS. Since it is illegal to decrease the remuneration of any employee, current GE teachers need not worry about their salaries. They just have to get rid of the idea that a college teacher has more prestige than a high school teacher. This idea of college being superior to high school is precisely the prejudice that the K+12 plan is fighting against.

The problem really lies with private HEIs that do not have a high school department. There are not very many of these purely tertiary HEIs, but since the minority still has to be protected even if the majority has been provided for, we have to face the problem. There will, indeed, be displacement of GE teachers in these purely tertiary private HEIs. That cannot be denied. That is the downside of the K+12 plan.

Many private HEIs, particularly the smaller ones, however, offer salaries lower than those of DepEd teachers. It would be to the personal advantage of GE teachers in these HEIs to move to DepEd. That is a win-win situation, because these teachers have a better grasp of content than the current teachers in DepEd.

The problem, then, is confined to the bigger purely tertiary private HEIs. This is where the Coordinating Council for Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA) gets into the picture. (To be continued)

READER RESPONSE. A reader suggests this formulation of the goals of basic education: “A reformed basic education as proposed should provide a high school graduate with adequate knowledge and skills (1) to gain meaningful employment, (2) to start a business / to be self-employed, or (3) to pursue higher education. Put this way, you affirm the value of high school education (i.e., truly foundational) for the three scenarios: getting a job, starting a business / being self-employed, or going on to college.” I love it when citizens start thinking seriously of helping rather than criticizing DepEd.

TEACHING TIP OF THE WEEK. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) recommends that teachers should talk to other teachers that teach the same subject to “share notes, ideas, and other important information.” In this age of collaborative learning, teachers should do collaborative teaching.

Sam Miguel
03-26-2013, 10:34 AM
K+12 and COCOPEA


By Isagani Cruz | Updated December 2, 2010 - 12:00am

Most, if not all, private schools in the Philippines are members of one or more of the following professional associations: Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP), Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities (PACU), Philippine Association of Private Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAPSCU), Association of Christian Schools, Colleges and Universities (ACSCU), and Technical-Vocational Association of the Philippines (TEVSAPHIL).

These associations, in turn, compose an umbrella organization called the Coordinating Council for Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA). COCOPEA may, therefore, be considered as the communal voice of private education.

Even before the election of President Noynoy Aquino, COCOPEA actively campaigned for an “Education President,” a term meant to force presidential candidates to explicitly state what they were going to do if they got into power. Only the Liberal Party, spearheaded by Aquino, seriously took up COCOPEA’s challenge and, in fact, formulated a ten-point educational agenda to answer the organization’s own ten demands. Before and after his election, Aquino outlined his plans for education, including extending basic education by two years.

COCOPEA members then and now may be said to be solidly behind Aquino’s educational agenda. These members were, in fact, among the first to help DepEd formulate K+12. They were, in particular, instrumental in convincing DepEd to shift from its original plan of 7+5 to the current plan of 6+4+2.

COCOPEA currently plays two roles in K+12. First, it conducts regional consultations to find out how its members can help flesh out the government’s program. Second, its members participate in the Technical Working Groups (TWGs) organized by DepEd to plan how to implement the program.

All concerns of private Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) about K+12 are taken up in the consultations and the TWG meetings. Since they are part of the planning process, private HEIs cannot be said to be against the plan. In fact, they are helping ease the transition from today’s inadequate basic education cycle to K+12.

Since schools are part of the planning process, since parents (according to an SWS survey that found out that 70% of parents do not object to extending basic education), since Filipino and foreign employers have made it clear that they expect our educational system to follow international standards, and most important of all, since President Aquino and DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro have the political will to make the change happen, there is no longer any doubt that we will have a 12-year basic education cycle in less than a decade.

ARE YOU MORE INTELLIGENT THAN FIRST GRADERS? Here is a multiple-choice question from a Grade 1 test in the USA: “The form of reproduction in which cells from two parents unite to form a zygote is: (a) asexual reproduction, (b) primary reproduction, (c) sexual reproduction, (d) monerans.” Who says six-year-olds are too young to know where babies come from?

TEACHING TIP OF THE WEEK. From Australia comes this excellent tip about teachers who use PowerPoint or similar presentation software: “Plan your lessons so they are interactive and not just ‘u-beaut’ presentations. Often this takes more time and more thought, but your students will appreciate it.”

One of the modern pedagogical superstitions we have is that, if you have an audiovisual presentation, you are a better teacher than your colleague who uses “mere” books or the blackboard. On the contrary, we must remember that the greatest teachers of all time (Confucius, Buddha, Socrates, Jesus, Muhammad) did not need PowerPoint to make people change their lives. Instead, they all relied on the power of words.

There is nothing wrong with using an LCD projector in class. In fact, many students now expect their teachers to use such basic instructional tools. What is wrong is if the audiovisual presentation is seen as the be-all and end-all of a lesson. There are even teachers that merely read out whatever is on the screen! They would do better just emailing their presentations to their students and not wasting the students’ time and money coming to campus.

Instead, you should use the screen the way you would use a blackboard. You would never write out everything you say in class on a blackboard. You would never rely completely on what you can write out on the blackboard. In fact, in many classes, particularly mathematics classes, students spend a lot of time writing on their own on the blackboard.

Students cannot “write” on the PowerPoint file, but they should be allowed to. Think of ways to get students to react, comment, criticize, redo your own presentation. Let them interact with the presentation. Put questions on your slides rather than answers. Allow them to use your laptop and fool around with your slides.

Remember that the role of teachers today is no longer that of a transmitter of knowledge. The Web can do that much better than you can. Your role is to teach your students to be better human beings. Jesus took five loaves of bread and two fish and fed a crowd, not just literally but spiritually. As a mere human, you may need more than pan de sal and bangus, but not necessarily PowerPoint, Flash, Keynote, Impress, or other software to teach. PowerPoint helps but does not substitute for your clear voice, your alert mind, and your caring heart.

Sam Miguel
03-26-2013, 10:35 AM
Plagiarism 102


By Isagani Cruz | Updated December 16, 2010 - 12:00am

The issue of plagiarism is not as simple as teachers would like their students to believe.

There is plagiarism, and there is plagiarism.

There is the kind of plagiarism that is anathema. Plagiarists of the first kind are set up as examples of how not to write research papers, ostracized by the academic community, ridiculed by peers, refused tenure or awards, demonized by history.

On the other hand, there is the kind of plagiarism that is canonized. Plagiarists of the second kind are set up as examples of how to write literary masterpieces, lionized by the academic community, envied by peers, tenured and awarded, immortalized by history.

Corresponding to these two kinds of plagiarism are two schools of thought about plagiarism.

There is the simplistic view of plagiarism. This is the view that teachers force upon students, other teachers, and the community at large. This is a view shared by almost everyone, including all of the lawyers and professors that have condemned the recent Supreme Court decision. Let us call this view the Absolute Theory of Plagiarism.

On the other hand, there is the complex view of plagiarism. This is the view that many young writers and some old critics in the international literary community today espouse. Let us call this view the Relative Theory of Plagiarism.

The Absolute Theory is really simple and strict. Plagiarism, as defined by Plagiarism.org, is “the use of another’s original words or ideas as though they were your own.” In this theory, plagiarism is a lie, a crime, a sin, because it is a form of stealing. One should not steal someone else’s words and ideas, because words and ideas are intellectual property, owned by whoever first said or wrote them down.

In the Absolute Theory, you are not allowed to copy the idea, even if the words are all different, of an author (whether alive or dead) without naming the author. (Copyright violation is less strict, because it involves only authors still alive or who died less than 70 years ago.) To avoid the charge of plagiarism, all you have to do is to attribute, footnote, endnote, cite, link, or otherwise make it clear that what you are saying or writing are not your own words or ideas.

Suppose you were a student and you wrote this sentence without referring to Shakespeare: The typical Filipino does not know whether to be or not to be.

A strict teacher would tell you to put quotation marks on the phrase that you borrowed from Shakespeare’s “To be, or not to be: that is the question.” The teacher would be happy if you wrote the sentence this way: The typical Filipino does not know whether “to be or not to be.”

A stricter teacher would insist that you put a citation even if you already used quotation marks. Your sentence would then be something like this: The typical Filipino does not know whether ‘to be or not to be” (William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1).

The strict and the stricter teacher may forgive you for writing the following sentence, but not the strictest teacher: The typical Filipino does not know whether to follow his conscience or to accept or give bribes like everyone else in government and business.

It is the idea, not the words, that should not be borrowed, the strictest teacher would say. The idea is exactly the same as Shakespeare’s, although the words are different. You should then, the strictest teacher would say, mention that Shakespeare thought of the idea before you did. Your sentence would then read: As Shakespeare anticipated in Hamlet, the typical Filipino does not know whether to follow his conscience or to accept or give bribes like everyone else in government and business.

In the Absolute Theory, intention has nothing to do with plagiarism. By not mentioning Shakespeare and Hamlet, you have committed plagiarism, whether you intended to steal the idea of Shakespeare or not, whether you read Hamlet, whether you even realized that what you were expressing was not original but an idea long attributed to the greatest playwright the world has ever known, whether you were so naïve or so egoistic that you actually thought that you could fashion an original thought never expressed by one or more of the millions of thinkers and writers that lived before you were born.

It is irrelevant if you innocently or maliciously intended to pass off as your own thought somebody else’s thought. The only thing relevant is that your sentence itself is a copy, albeit couched in another way, of somebody else’s idea.

I must admit that, in my early days as a teacher and writer, I used to adhere to the Absolute Theory. I would repeat the mantra of teachers of term paper writing, namely, “Footnote! Footnote! Footnote!” Sometime in my 40 years of teaching and writing, however, I started to tinker with the thought that the Relative Theory of Plagiarism might not be as silly as it seems and might even have its merits. The reason has to do with the digital revolution, more particularly, Web 2.0.

(To be continued when school resumes)

Sam Miguel
03-26-2013, 10:36 AM
Total educational reform


By Isagani Cruz | Updated December 30, 2010 - 12:00am

The term “K+12” has misled some into thinking that the P-Noy government regards the addition of two years to basic education as the solution to all our education problems. P-Noy has never said that and neither has Secretary Armin Luistro. In fact, P-Noy and Luistro have repeatedly said the opposite, namely, that K+12 is only one of ten major education reforms that the government is undertaking.

During the campaign, P-Noy spelled out at least 10 education reforms. The others, in addition to K+12, are ensuring universal pre-school for all five-year-olds, integrating the Madaris schools into the education system as a subsystem, reintroducing technical-vocational education into high school (not just Senior High School), making every child a reader by the end of Grade 1 (instead of Grade 3 as in the previous administration), upgrading the proficiency of all students in mathematics and science, increasing government assistance to private schools, using three languages for instruction (mother tongue as main medium for all levels, Filipino for national communication, English for international communication), raising the quality of textbooks, and encouraging local governments to build and manage schools.

In essence, P-Noy’s educational agenda is really Total Education Reform. For convenience, let me refer to it as TER.

For several years now, educators have been advocating a Higher Education Reform Agenda (HESRA), equivalent to the Basic Education Reform Agenda (BESRA) that the government has adopted. International developments, such as the Bologna Process, Asia-wide accreditation, and the Washington Accord, have made it imperative that all (not just some) tertiary curricular programs be reengineered. The General Education Curriculum (GEC) has to be radically revised, not just because most of its content will already be taken up in Senior High School, but also because the Knowledge Economy and the decline in the world’s spirituality (as UNESCO puts it) demand new ways of educating leaders. Most difficult of all, parents have to be reeducated to accept technical-vocational education as equal in stature to academic degrees.

K+12, being merely a tenth part of TER, will not work if DepEd is left alone to implement it. Let me go through an example to show why DepEd cannot and should not do it alone.

Take Kindergarten. Starting June 2011, all five-year-olds will be required to take Kindergarten. Otherwise, they will not be allowed in June 2012 to go to Grade 1.

That seems simple enough, until you realize that DepEd is not the only government agency in charge of Kindergarten. There are, for example, DSWD, ECCDC, LGUs, SUCs, and LUCs. To build schools and pay expenses, DPWH, DBM, and NEDA, among others, have to be on-board. There is also Congress, which has to amend laws that restrict the use of government funds to the system we have today. (I use acronyms because the full names would take up too much space in this column!)

It is also not only the government that needs to get into the act. The private sector, represented by various HEIs and pre-schools, needs to share expertise and even facilities for all children to have a real chance to be in Kindergarten. Even foreign funding agencies have to refocus their agendas in order to take into account the much larger number of children entering school.

Even the curriculum of Kindergarten cannot be left only to DepEd. It is foolhardy to design a curriculum for Kindergarten without knowing what the end product of education is going to be. This is the lesson we learn from outcomes-based approaches. The needs of society and the world, both in terms of employment and entrepreneurship, should dictate what CHED and TESDA should be producing. CHED and TESDA, in turn, should dictate what DepEd is producing. Within DepEd itself, Senior High School should determine what Junior High School graduates should know and be able to do, Junior High School should tell Elementary School teachers what to teach, and – to bring us back to Kindergarten – Grade 1 teachers should decide what Kindergarten graduates should be like. In other words, it is the output that should determine the input, not the other way around.

This is the reason that I think it an extremely wise move for Aquino and Luistro to convene an inter-agency Task Force on K+12.

The Task Force is headed by a steering committee, in turn headed by the heads of the three education agencies – Luistro (DepEd), Patricia Licuanan (CHED) and Joel Villanueva (TESDA). The steering committee consists of representatives of several stakeholders, including the Senate, the House of Representatives, NEDA, DOLE, DSWD, PBEd, COCOPEA, ACT, PASUC, PTCAs, and student governments. Five advisers have been named to the steering committee, namely, Ester Ogena (PNU), Mariano Piamonte (Party List), Ed de la Torre (E-net), Gregg Bañaga (Adamson), and myself.

Four Technical Working Groups report to the steering committee: Research Studies, Curriculum Enhancement, Nationwide Consultations / Education Summit, and Legislation / Communications. Each TWG has representatives from various stakeholder groups, as well as the top officials and experts of the three education agencies.

Nothing will happen, however, unless P-Noy takes personal charge of all of TER. Can he wield the tremendous powers of his office to make everybody march to the beat of a single drummer? I believe that he can. After all, he represents hope, including the hope that something will finally be done to totally reform our education system.

Sam Miguel
03-26-2013, 10:37 AM
General Education


By Isagani Cruz | Updated January 6, 2011 - 12:00am

In 1996, Cynthia Bautista, Edna Manlapaz, Mona Valisno, and I put together what is now known as General Education Curriculum A (GEC-A), also referred to as CHED Memorandum Order (CMO) No. 59, series of 1996. GEC-A is still followed by all college students majoring in humanities, social sciences, and communication.

A year later, Mona Valisno and I worked on GEC-B, which is a condensed version of GEC-A. GEC-B is also referred to as CHED Memorandum (CM) No. 4, series of 1997. GEC-B is still followed by all college students majoring in subjects other than those mentioned above.

GEC-A requires students to take 63 units (not counting Physical Education and National Service Training Program). These academic units are distributed this way: 24 units of language and literature, 15 units of mathematics and natural sciences, 18 units of humanities and social sciences, and 6 units of government-mandated subjects.

GEC-B requires students to take 51 academic units, distributed this way: 21 units of language and humanities, 15 units of mathematics, natural sciences, and information technology, 12 units of social sciences, and 3 units of mandated subjects.

In both curriculums, the subjects are defined, even coming with sample syllabuses and titles of recommended library holdings. That was, after all, the 20th century – the last century. (By the way, curricula and syllabi follow Latin, not English, grammar.)

Enter our century, with its knowledge economy, globalization, technological revolution, and paradigm shifts. Four developments, in particular, have rendered both GEC-A and GEC-B obsolete or (more charitably, since I was partly their author and I have to save some of my pride) overtaken by events: the Bologna Process, the UNESCO World Declaration on Higher Education for the Twenty-First Century, the Aquino government’s K+12 program, and the creation of the CHED Technical Panel on General Education (TPGE).

Among other things, the Bologna Process is forcing us to specify Minimum Learning Competencies (also known as Standards, Qualifications, or Outcomes) for each subject in GEC, and to include graduates, employers, and faculty of other universities in syllabus development.

DepEd has articulated MLCs for every subject for almost a whole century now, but CHED has not really gone through such a detailed exercise. It is one thing to say that the objective of a subject is to have a student know and do certain things, and quite another thing to say that, after a student passes a particular subject, the student should be able to do something measurable and concrete that will be useful to self, as well as to society as a whole.

Even our best universities rarely, if ever, include graduates, employers, and faculty of other universities in curriculum committees, but that is what Bologna requires. The idea is to make education relevant to the world outside a particular campus. In fact, since Bologna is aimed at making national degrees internationally equivalent, curriculum committees in Philippine universities should have not only Filipinos as members, but a lot of foreigners as well.

UNESCO represents the current thinking of the majority of university administrators. To remain in step with the rest of the world, we have no choice but to take UNESCO seriously. After all, the Philippines signed the Declaration.

Among other things, UNESCO demands that general education must respond to national and international challenges, have a strong research component, focus on values (traditional, scientific, and spiritual), and be multi- and inter-disciplinary. In other words, UNESCO demands that our GEC must radically change.

K+12 should bring down to the high school level such subjects as Calculus, Statistics, Inorganic Chemistry, Literary Theory, Filipino Linguistics, and Research Paper Writing. Current GEC subjects in Mathematics, Natural Sciences, Literature, Filipino, and English will obviously be too elementary for college.

TPGE (which I headed since it was created in May 2009, until December, 2010, the end of my term) started out thinking about Pre-University, shifted gears because of K+12, and is now proposing major changes in general education. (To be continued)

SPECIAL THANKS. I want to give my very special thanks to three very special people who saved my one and only grandchild from severe pneumonia during the Christmas holidays: JUN DE CASTRO (F&B manager of El Nido who managed to get seats for us on fully-booked return flights to Manila when we had to cut our vacation short), JULIET GOPEZ-CERVANTES (who personally went to the Emergency Room of St. Luke’s Medical Center Global City to check on my grandson, even though she was extremely busy; she even stayed on as Attending Physician), and MARIA IMELDA V. BAUTISTA (the pediatrician who did not just treat the four-year-old apple of my eye, but explained everything patiently to all of us). By the way, after staying five days in the hospital room, my daughter and my son-in-law, both Americans used to Stanford University Hospital (one of the world’s best), now view St. Luke’s Global as world-class or truly global.

TEACHING TIP OF THE WEEK: Anne Sullivan taught Helen Keller not just reading, but good manners. If you want to be known as a great teacher, teach your students good manners and right conduct (to use the old phrase). If your students rush into an elevator even before people inside can leave it or if they break into queues or if they shake somebody’s hands while looking elsewhere, you had better rethink your teaching philosophy.

Sam Miguel
03-26-2013, 10:37 AM


By Isagani Cruz | Updated January 13, 2011 - 12:00am

One of the problems about talking about “General Education” is that the term does not mean the same thing around the world.

In most European countries, the term refers to what we call “basic education,” namely, elementary or primary school and high or secondary school. To make things confusing, the terms “high school” and “secondary school” are themselves defined in various ways.

In the United States, the term refers to the first year of what we call “tertiary education” or “undergraduate education.” To make things even more confusing, those taking master’s degrees are called “undergraduates” in Sweden.

In the United Kingdom, there is a law (coming into full effect in 2015) that defines what we call basic education. Until they are 18, all British children are forced to take the following courses before they go into a university: “English (Welsh is also a core subject in Welsh-speaking schools), mathematics, science, design and technology, information and communication technology, history, geography, modern foreign languages, music, art and design, physical education, and citizenship. In addition to these core subjects are a number of other compulsory courses, such as religious education” (list provided by the British Council).

Because European and British students take what we call GE courses before they get to a university, they need only three years of college to earn the equivalent of our bachelor’s degree. In fact, courses like medicine and law take only five years to complete after high school. (After K+12 and the new GE curriculum are safely installed, I shall start advocating lessening the number of years to earn an MD or an LlB. UP has already started a shorter MD course. Law schools might want to start thinking along the same lines. I clearly have a lot of battles left to keep this column going for a long time!)

As far as I know, the Philippines is the only country in the world that requires two years of general education after high school. This was one of the reasons the Arroyo administration wanted to call the first two years of college as “pre-university” or “pre-baccalaureate.” Why we have two years rather than one year (as in the American system) or no years at all (as in the European system) is probably due to the perception (often unfounded) of Filipino college teachers that Filipino high school teachers do not know how to teach.

Before revising the General Education Curriculum (GEC) as it now stands, we have to go back to the concept or philosophy behind education. What, exactly, is the purpose of education? Is it merely to keep children occupied until they are old enough to vote, go to war, get married, get a job, establish a company (not always in that order)? Is it to ensure that children get the skills to be employed so capitalists or government officials can keep corporations and agencies going? Is it to brainwash children so they do not stage revolutions against the government? Is it to make sure that they can get to heaven when they die? Or is it merely to make them go through what we (teachers and parents) went through to get to where we are today?

We have to be very clear in our minds why we are educating our children. This is the main reason the CHED Technical Panel on General Education (TPGE) decided to revisit the rationale of GE in college.

What was – is – the rationale for general education?

CHED Memorandum Order 59, series of 1996, puts it in one sentence: “The implementation of the new GEC must be characterized by an interdisciplinary approach which would help the students see the human being as an integral person living in both a national and a global community.”

The sentence is full of key words – interdisciplinary, human, integral, person, national, global, community. Each of these key words requires a book, but let me try to explain each of them by citing examples.

Let me use as an example the case of a person going to see a doctor. (I see a lot of doctors these days, because my body is frantically trying to keep up with my advocacies.)

A doctor who only looks at the medical chart and laboratory results of a patient cannot cure that patient. Harvard Medical School professor Jerome Groopman, who calls medicine “a mix of science and soul,” ends his book entitled How Doctors Think (2007) by recalling how he learned from a novelist how to treat cancer patients.

We have an example closer to home. Top international oncologist Dr. Romy Diaz, who treats the very rich and the very poor, has his cancer patients in Makati singing happily using a videoke while having chemotherapy.

That is interdisciplinarity in action. (To be continued)

TEACHING TIP OF THE WEEK. From the Centre for Learning and Teaching of Manchester Metropolitan University comes this tip: Do not use the deficit model (what students do not know) but the non-deficit model (what students already know) of education. Too many Filipino teachers complain that students do not know how to do this and how to do that, instead of building on what students can already do. Education is not a plumbing job (plugging holes), but an artistic creation (molding what is into what can be).

Sam Miguel
03-26-2013, 10:38 AM
Analyzing general education


By Isagani Cruz | Updated January 20, 2011 - 12:00am

According to CHED Memorandum Order 59, series of 1996, general education demands “an interdisciplinary approach which would help the students see the human being as an integral person living in both a national and a global community.”

Let me continue to explain the key words in that sentence through examples.

First, the word “human.” In the film Patch Adams, the main character (played by Robin Williams) protests when a doctor refers to a patient by number rather than by name. Patients are human beings that have names and personalities.

Similarly, teachers that look at students as mere names in a class list are not doing their job. A good teacher knows every single student, not just by name, but by attitude and capability. When I observe a class, I have a simple measure for finding out if a teacher is good or not: a teacher who divides a class into buzz groups by simply asking everyone to count off is too lazy to sit down and figure out who can work best together.

Now, the word “integral.” Students know very well that they cannot shut off the world when they sit down for a test. Their latest encounter with their classmates or their parents necessarily affects their concentration. One of the problems with so-called standard multiple-item tests is that they assume that everybody thinks exactly in the same way at exactly the same pace. A student, like everybody else, is an integral person, which means that he or she always thinks with the heart and feels with the brain.

The word “national” appears simple, but it is not. Look at newspapers. Last Sunday, only one newspaper (Philippine STAR) thought of putting on its front page the news about 47 people dead because of floods in southern Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao. The other newspapers thought that it was not of national importance, even if the rains affected most of the country. Other newspapers routinely put things that occur in Metro Manila on its front pages (even heavy traffic, for heaven’s sake!) and ignore major events happening outside the center of government.

General education must make students aware that the country is much bigger than Metro Manila. The Philippine Literature course (for which I did the syllabus) in the GE curriculum makes this explicit: “The student must have written a term paper of at least five pages analyzing one literary text written in the language of the region or by someone born in the region where the school is located.” It is wrong to assume that Metro Manila writers are superior to writers in other regions just because they live or work in the capital. Literature in Cebuano or Capampangan is as “national” as literature written in Tagalog or English. Literature in Tagalog or English is as “regional” as literature in Bikol or Ilocano.

Finally, the term “global.” As early as 1996, it was already clear to CHED that the fate of our country is closely tied to the fate of the whole world. We cannot say that climate change, the knowledge economy, and the war on terror do not concern us. Like it or not, even if we want to be nationalistic and think only about ourselves, Filipinos are dying from floods during what should be the dry season, many of our best intellectuals are working abroad, and somebody throws a grenade somewhere near us every so often.

Students must be made to realize that what we do affects everybody else, and what other people do affects us.

Since I wrote the final draft of CMO 59, I can tell you where I got that definition of general education. I plagiarized it from the description of general education in the old manuals of the Department of Education, Culture and Sports. Education is education, and its nature, purpose, and outcome have not changed since the time Confucius and Socrates convened what today would be called classes.

Recently, the CHED Technical Panel on General Education came up with a definition of general education that keeps the same centuries-old concept but uses words more comprehensible to students and teachers in the 21st century:

“The objective of Philippine education on the tertiary level is the holistic education of Filipinos who contribute humanely and professionally to the development of a just and economically-robust society in an environmentally-sustainable world through competent and innovative leadership, as well as productive and responsible citizenship. General Education (GE) on the tertiary level addresses the development of the human being. Some of the outcomes expected of students finishing GE are: an appreciation of the human condition, the ability to personally interpret human experience, the ability to view the contemporary world from both Philippine and global perspectives, the ability to reflectively and critically discern right and wrong in today’s world (beyond compliance to rules, laws, and expectations in traditional culture), the ability to tackle problems methodically and scientifically, the ability to appreciate and to contribute to artistic beauty, and the ability to contribute personally and meaningfully to the development of the Philippines.” (To be continued)

TEACHING TIP OF THE WEEK. From South Africa comes this sensible tip for veteran college teachers: Take a one-year leave from teaching and work full-time in a corporation. In this way, you bring current real-world experience into the classroom.

Sam Miguel
03-26-2013, 10:39 AM
Educating for life


By Isagani Cruz | Updated February 3, 2011 - 12:00am

Education, like life itself, starts at birth and ends with death. The division among elementary, secondary, and tertiary education is convenient for government planners and curriculum designers, but it is not based on human nature. There is no major difference in the learning abilities of children in Grade 6 and those in First Year High School; if we use the new nomenclature, Grade 7, the difference is even more clearly not there, because in private schools Grade 7 is still in elementary school.

The term “lifelong learning” is appropriate, because people really start learning while they are infants and never stop until they are old and grey. At The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential (IAHP) in Philadelphia, new-born babies are taught how to read and it is not unusual for two-year-olds to be already reading books. (The IAHP principles are championed in the Philippines by Diliman Preparatory School’s Nikki Coseteng.) As for the other end of life, that the elderly can learn to do something they have never done before is proven by first books written by people in their eighties.

Because basic education forms only part of what should be a seamless education cycle, it is wrong to restrict the planning of the K+12 curriculum to DepEd. This is the reason the government has wisely made the three heads of education agencies (Armin Luistro of DepEd, Patricia Licuanan of CHED, and Joel Villanueva of TESDA) co-equal chairs of what is known as the Steering Committee for K+12, a huge body that consists not only of government agencies but of private organizations and individuals.

Both CHED and TESDA are very much involved in DepEd’s curriculum planning. For bureaucratic purposes, of course, DepEd will implement K+12, with CHED supervising the training of K+12 teachers and TESDA providing the technical-vocational expertise for the non-academic portions of the curriculum. But planning K+12 involves changing not just the current Basic Education Curriculum (BEC), but the General Education Curriculum (GEC) of the tertiary level, as well as the curriculums of undergraduate and graduate major programs.

Let us take Calculus as a simple example. Everywhere else in the world, Calculus is a high school subject. In the Philippines, the GEC requires students to take Algebra. Once Calculus is included in the BEC, the Algebra subject will be unnecessary. In fact, since DepEd is thinking seriously of including Statistics and Financial Literacy as subjects in the BEC, the mathematics requirements at the tertiary level have to be completely rethought.

What CHED’s Technical Panel for General Education (TPGE) recommended last year as the one and only required Mathematics subject in college is “Applied Mathematics.” This course (as well as other courses in the GEC) is envisioned to be “multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary, with emphasis on developing the critical and creative capabilities of students.” This course will be required of all college students, whether they are going to major in engineering, philosophy, literature, or even mathematics itself.

It would not make sense to teach the derivation using calculus of, say, the volume of a pyramid to a mixed class consisting of history majors, political science majors, fine arts majors, engineering majors, and math majors. While everyone would have had Calculus in high school (after K+12 is fully implemented), the derivation of the formula would completely turn off the political science major and, on the other hand, would be merely a boring exercise for the math major.

What a GEC subject should do is to explain why majors of any kind need to know the volume of a pyramid. The history majors need to know why the Egyptians used the pyramid form rather than, say, the spherical form to honor their pharaohs. The political science majors need to know why our society has a pyramid structure. The fine arts majors need to be able to use the pyramid in their paintings and sculptures. The engineering majors need to know why pyramids are better or worse than columns in holding up bridges. The math majors need to know that the tedious process of deriving the formula is something they have to learn in their math classes, but the significance of the volume of the pyramid to innumerate mortals is something they have to appreciate.

In other words, the idea of a GEC subject is not specialized or professional training in a particular discipline (such as math), but education in the classical sense, namely, educating a person rather than propagating a discipline or learning area. The GEC is merely part of the fabric of tertiary education. As the CHED TPGE puts it, the first objective of the GEC is “an appreciation of the human condition.” Why do people behave the way they do? Why did the Egyptians work with pyramids? Why do we allow the country to have a pyramid economic and social structure? Why are people not used to seeing pyramids hold up bridges? Why are most Filipinos innumerate? Questions of this kind should lead students towards a better understanding of why we are the way we are.

TEACHING TIP OF THE WEEK. From the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia comes this advice for veteran teachers: Compile a Teaching Portfolio, which “is essentially a factual description of individual teaching strengths and accomplishments supported by relevant data and analyzed personally to show the thinking process behind the artifacts.”

Sam Miguel
03-26-2013, 10:40 AM
The technical panel on general education


By Isagani Cruz | Updated February 10, 2011 - 12:00am

In April 2009, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) formed the Technical Panel on General Education (TPGE). The TPGE was tasked to restudy CHED’s General Education Curriculum (GEC) in the light of what the Presidential Task Force for Education (PTFE) had recommended as the “Philippine Main Education Highway.” In particular, the TPGE was mandated to recommend two related but distinct programs: a Revised General Education Curriculum (RGEC) for all undergraduate students and a two-year post-secondary Pre-University program to prepare high school graduates to go to college.

By August 2009, the TPGE was ready with a draft of the general principles governing both the RGEC and the Pre-University. Knowing that the PTFE had already consulted just about everybody in education before it came out with its “Education Highway,” the TPGE decided to consult only the major stakeholders in tertiary education.

On Aug. 19, 2009, the TPGE met the heads of all the other Technical Panels of CHED. The Technical Panels agreed that the RGEC should be the same for all college students regardless of major. The Technical Panels also unanimously endorsed the idea that the RGEC should not take more than a year for a student to finish, rather than the almost two years it currently takes.

On Oct. 7, 2009, the TPGE met with the heads of all the Boards of Examiners of the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC). The Examiners promised that future board examinations would follow the new curriculums for various professional majors that were sure to be revised to conform to the RGEC and the Pre-University.

In that Oct. 7 meeting, representatives of 90 professional organizations were also present. The organizations suggested general competencies that they wished all students would acquire before they graduated from college.

On Dec. 9, 2009, the TPGE convened a group of experienced and nationally-known educators to work on the details of the curriculum. Patricia Licuanan, then president of Miriam College and not yet the Chair of CHED, was one of the invited experts, and she contributed substantially to the designs of the RGEC and the Pre-University.

The TPGE was scheduled to meet with presidents of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in three regional meetings (Manila, Cebu, and Davao) in early 2010 to finalize the RGEC and the Pre-University, but due to the presidential elections, everything was put on hold.

The Aquino administration changed the terms but not the spirit of the education reform started by the PTFE. It dropped the idea of a post-high school Pre-University and decided to add the two missing years in our education cycle to high school itself. Now named Senior High School (the name might still be changed after ongoing national consultations), the years between the current Fourth Year High School and the current First Year College still follow the general philosophy of the Pre-University, namely, that many subjects that are now taught in college should be taught before college.

In particular, the government is eyeing the current college subjects that the PTFE and the various consultations identified as being on the secondary level, such as Differential Calculus, Integral Calculus, Differential Equations, Physical Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, English, Filipino, Rizal, Physical Education, and Philippine History. (Some of these subjects need to be transferred to DepEd from CHED by legislation.)

Before the Aquino administration, these were the general principles agreed upon by the stakeholders consulted by the TPGE:

First, while the educational system should have 12 years of pre-university education, not all students need to go through the Pre-University or, in today’s terms, through the entire K+12 cycle. Smart students can be accelerated and exempted from the extra two years. The TPGE included only four subjects in the Pre-University: English, Filipino, Mathematics, and Science. Students exhibiting excellent skills and knowledge in these four fields should be allowed and encouraged to go directly to First Year College.

Second, the RGEC should consist of subjects in the following areas of learning: Arts and Humanities, Mathematics and Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences. Unlike the current GEC, however, these should not be taken as isolated or discipline-specific subjects. RGEC subjects should all be taught in an interdisciplinary way, with students (and teachers!) able to situate the subjects within the larger context of general education.

Third, the RGEC should include Integrating Courses, which allow students to bring together the knowledge and skills they get from most of their college subjects, as well as to form their own personal philosophies of life.

Fourth, all subjects in the RGEC should be experiential, that is, based solidly on the personal experience of the students. That means, for example, that education should be culture-based. Everything should be related to the immediate environment of the student (“immediate” refers to the family, the community, and the country). While global or timeless concerns need, of course, to be addressed, the focus should always be on the experiential and practical.

Fifth, the principle of Academic Freedom, enshrined in the Constitution, should be strictly followed. This is probably the most radical reform that the TPGE proposed during the Arroyo administration. Instead of CHED being the regulatory agency that it is now, with CHED orders being regarded as set in stone as the Ten Commandments (and as frequently violated!), schools should be able to do without feeling guilty what the Constitution says they have the right to do, namely, to choose who to teach (admission requirements), what to teach (curriculums), and how to teach (instructional strategies). Fortunately for Philippine education, Chair Licuanan, in her very first address when she assumed office, stressed the developmental rather than the regulatory nature of CHED. (To be continued)

TEACHING TIP OF THE WEEK. From Brent Vasicek comes this timely tip to bring the world into your classroom: Ask your students to write a letter to a child (of their age) in Egypt, giving advice to the child about what to do in the midst of the violence.

Sam Miguel
03-26-2013, 10:44 AM
K-12 public hearings


By Isagani Cruz | Updated May 26, 2011 - 12:00am

The House of Representatives has a Committee on Basic Education and Culture, composed of 65 members, chaired by Rep. Salvador H. Escudero III. The Committee is mandated to propose legislation on “all matters directly and principally relating to pre-school, elementary and secondary education, science high schools except the Philippine Science High School System, teachers’ and students’ welfare, alternative learning systems and community adult education, the national language, libraries and museums, and the preservation and enrichment of Filipino culture.”

The Committee has been going around the country holding public hearings on the proposed bills adding two more years to our basic education system. I have been privileged to have been designated a Resource Person during these hearings. I went to the first one (in Iloilo), but following the orders of my doctors, had to skip the next ones (in Cebu and Davao). Fortunately, Paraluman Giron, recently retired Regional Director of DepEd, was willing to substitute for me.

Last week, I was in Cagayan de Oro City with some of the members of the Committee, namely, Reps. Jorge Almonte, Fatima Aliah Dimaporo, Florencio Flores Jr., Mariano Piamonte Jr., Rufus Rodriguez, and Pryde Henry Teves. Escudero presided over the three-hour public hearing. Rodriguez was our extremely generous host.

I am usually given fifteen minutes to start the session with a briefing on K-12. Using a PowerPoint presentation prepared by DepEd (which I revise to suit the audience), I tackle three basic questions: Why, How, and When.

I begin by pointing out that the K-12 program involves not only DepEd, but also various other agencies of the executive branch of government (such as CHED, TESDA, DSWD, DOST, DOLE, ECCDC, and NCCA), as well as the House and the Senate (which have to pass the necessary laws).

Since the Why is being tackled extensively nationwide by the Speakers Bureau of DepEd, I start with it. Primarily, we need to add two more years because we cannot effectively teach in ten years twelve years’ worth of lessons, 16-year-old graduates of the current ten-year program are too young to be employed or to start a business, and our country has the shortest basic education cycle in Asia.

I then add my own analysis of the drop-out statistics of DepEd. You know what I mean: out of 100 students in Grade 1, only 43 finish high school and only 23 enrol in college, leaving 20 unemployable young persons in limbo. I then point out that these out-of-school youth are obvious beneficiaries of the K-12 program, because they can be in school for another two years learning skills that will get them jobs not requiring a college degree.

I spend most of my allotted time on the How. I show how the program enhances the present educational system. I focus on what makes the K-12 program essentially different from the present system. In both Junior High School (Grades 7-10) and Senior High School (Grades 11-12), the decongesting or loosening up of the curriculum will allow students to take up electives that are directly related to livelihood.

Examples of these electives are subjects that will prepare a student for his or her choice of the most in-demand jobs in the Philippines and abroad (as listed by DOLE on their website), such as welding, call center agent, waiter, electrical technician, sales person, merchandiser, plumber, cook, mason, and the like. TESDA has tried-and-tested training programs for these types of in-demand jobs, and it is working closely with DepEd to ensure that the electives will match industry needs.

Academically inclined students can take electives to prepare them for higher-level college subjects.

I end by showing the timeline of the program (the When).

The program has actually begun, with the registration of children in free Kindergarten classes (handled by DepEd and DSWD). The K in K-12 starts in a couple of weeks.

Next year, the children now in Kindergarten will be in Grade 1. They will follow the new K-12 curriculum, which is being fine-tuned by inter-agency Task Forces involving various government and private groups and individuals.

Also next year, the students entering Grade 7 (what we now call First Year High School) will also be following the new curriculum. They will form the first cohort or batch to have six years of secondary education. This batch will enter college or start working in 2018. That gives Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) enough time to revise their curriculum and staffing.

DepEd has an entire year to train next year’s Grade 1 and Grade 7 teachers. A year later, they will train the teachers of Grade 2 and Grade 8. By training teachers of only two grade levels per year, training resources will not be overstretched.

DepEd also has time to build the extra classrooms for Grades 11 and 12, since the first affected cohort will reach Grade 11 only in 2016.

So far, the public hearings have elicited mostly supportive and constructive responses. This is a good sign that the public now understands why President Noynoy Aquino made the addition of two years to basic education the key to his program of education reform.

Working with them closely, I must say that our Representatives in Congress are impressive persons, with hearts firmly set on helping the poor get employed and the country catch up with our neighbors.

Sam Miguel
03-26-2013, 10:44 AM
Still about K-12


By Isagani Cruz | Updated July 7, 2011 - 12:00am

Although the latest in-house survey puts public approval of the K-12 plan at 70 percent, there are still some lingering questions that need to be answered. These questions are usually brought up when I give lectures on K-12, either in the public hearings of the Congressional Committee on Basic Education or in various school forums.

Question: Will the next administration return the basic education cycle to ten years and undo the K-12 reform?

Answer: Not if the K-12 reform becomes a law. That is one reason the legislators are conducting public hearings and working to have the law passed. Once something becomes a law, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to change it.

Question: Why can we not implement Grade 11 in June 2012, instead of 2016 as envisioned in the plan?

Answer: One of the major reasons for adding two years to the basic education cycle is the congestion of the curriculum. There are too many subjects being taught in too short a time in the current curriculum. The new K-12 curriculum expands the time allotted to these subjects, without adding new subjects. This means that some current subjects may be taught in a different year from the year they are taught now.

For example, instead of Rizal’s “Noli Me Tangere” being taught in Grade 9 (the current Third Year high school), it could be taught in Grade 11. (This is just a theoretical example; the actual curriculum has not yet been finalized.) If we instituted Grade 11 immediately, students who have already studied the “Noli” in Grade 9 would have to study the “Noli” again in Grade 11. This is the reason that it is important for high school students to start using the new curriculum only in Grade 7. The new secondary school (Grades 7-12) curriculum starts in June 2012. The students entering high school next year will get into Grade 11 only after four years, or 2016.

Question: Can private Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) use their teachers for Grades 11 and 12?

Answer: This question assumes that Grades 11 and 12 are exactly the same as First and Second Year college (what is referred to as General Education or GE), so that college teachers can simply become high school teachers. The new K-12 curriculum, however, since it merely expands the current ten-year curriculum, does not cover many of the GE subjects. Teachers of GE still have to be trained to teach high school subjects.

There is also a bureaucratic problem. To teach high school, a teacher has to have passed the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET). Most college teachers have not passed LET (unless they are teaching in colleges of education). Of course, the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) could do away with the requirement with a simple memorandum, but that is easier said than done. PRC necessarily has to think a lot before it changes any of its policies.

Question: Can the government just pay private HEIs to handle Grades 11 and 12? There is, after all, a legal mechanism called Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE), which allows DepEd to pay the tuition of public school students studying in private schools.

Answer: HEIs spends a lot more per student than what GASTPE gives. Since free basic education is a constitutional right, public school students cannot be turned away just because there is not enough money for GASTPE. A private school will go bankrupt if it is forced to subsidize too many public school students.

Question: Does every student have to go through the 12 years of basic education?

Answer: Most students will have to, since that is the system. But the system is different from individual cases. Just like in the present ten-year system, there are students that are advanced for their age and should certainly be accelerated. (If I may be immodest, I take myself as an example, because I was accelerated twice in grade school, making me at 14 the youngest high school graduate of Lourdes School during my time.)

The brightest Grade 10 students from public and private high schools can certainly be admitted immediately into HEIs. This is guaranteed by the Constitution, which says that all HEIs are given the academic freedom to choose who to teach or, in other words, who to admit as incoming freshmen.

Question: Does DepEd have enough money for Grades 11 and 12?

Answer: Yes, there is, as long as Congress allocates that money and as long as corruption is minimized, if not stopped. Congress has already planned how to allocate money for the next four years to prepare for the full implementation of Grade 11 in June 2016.

On the personal level, if you really believe that all Filipino children should have a chance to get 12 years of free basic education, then all you have to do is to pay taxes, not bribe anyone, and ask for official receipts every time you purchase anything. Such small actions, if all of us do them, will ensure that government has enough money not just for Grades 11 and 12, but for all the social services that we expect a civilized country to have.

TEACHING TIP OF THE WEEK: Use rubrics to make your teaching outcomes-based. Here is an example of a writing rubric: “The student used helpful transitions between main points.”

Sam Miguel
03-26-2013, 10:45 AM
Mona Valisno on K-12


By Isagani Cruz | Updated July 28, 2011 - 12:00am

Mona Valisno’s forthcoming book, “The Nation’s Journey to Greatness: Five Decades of the Philippine Educational System,” contains a proposal to solve one of the vexing problems with the K-12 program, namely, the spectre of private Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) not having incoming first year students for two straight years (with a ripple effect in later years).

Valisno knows what she is talking about. She is the only Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary who also served as a Commissioner in the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). She was also Presidential Assistant (PA) for Education, overseeing both DepEd and CHED, as well as other government agencies engaged in public education. As PA, she convened the Presidential Task Force on Education (PTFE), the most recent of several bodies since 1935 that suggested solutions for our perennial problems in education.

In her book, Valisno writes: “Instead of DepEd providing facilities and other resources for Grades 11 and 12 students in the public schools, including hiring new teachers, it is recommended that existing resources and facilities in public and private colleges, universities and technical-vocational training institutions be utilized, with DepEd underwriting the costs under a full scholarship arrangement.”

She cites the findings of the PTFE that our first two years of college are almost identical to the last two years of pre-university education in Asian and European countries. Since subjects taught in college in the Philippines (such as Differential and Integral Calculus, Differential Equations, General Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and Inorganic Chemistry) are taught in high schools elsewhere in the world, there is no reason, she argues, that we cannot have colleges simply convert the first two years of college to the last two years of high school (or Senior High School, following DepEd nomenclature).

The Coordinating Council for Private Educational Associations of the Philippines (COCOPEA) has actually proposed something similar, but what is new in Valisno’s study is her estimate of how much the government would spend if all Grade 11 and Grade 12 classes were held in HEIs rather than in DepEd schools. She bases her figures on past data about the percentage of high school graduates that actually enrolled in college.

“From an estimated 1.5 million high school seniors,” she writes, “some 375,000 students could proceed to the universities for their Grades 11 and 12 education. Following a rough estimate of P30,000 per school year per student, some P45 billion may be incurred, to be charged against DepEd. The investment is worthwhile and is a lot cheaper than if DepEd will provide all the resources required for Grades 11 and 12.”

Relative to the total budget of DepEd and if we consider that our government spends only roughly 3 percent of GDP on education (world average in 2002 was almost 5 percent), P45 billion is very small.

“In addition,” writes Valisno, “there are anticipated benefits. DepEd can continue building new classrooms, hiring more teachers, buying more furniture, books and others for its incremental enrolment in Grades 1 to 10, since the resource requirements of Grades 11 and 12 will already exist in reputable colleges and universities. The financial viability of private colleges and universities will be assured over the long term, as there will be continued enrolment of first year students, to be paid for by government through DepEd.”

In her book, Valisno also has a number of things to say about technical education, but it is her proposal for Grades 11 and 12 that interests me here. Note that she is not proposing this as a transition or stop-gap measure until there are Grade 12 graduates ready to go to college. Instead, she proposes that Grades 11 and 12 be permanently housed in HEIs.

I may have misinterpreted her, since I read only a portion of her manuscript and not the entire manuscript, but I think that this is what she is saying. She is saying that DepEd should really see things from CHED’s point of view.

Valisno’s idea is only one of several models being proposed to solve the problem of the missing freshmen. It is certainly a lot better than the most extreme proposal I have heard so far, which in essence says, Tough!

This extreme proposal says that, like typewriters, videotapes, and beepers, private colleges and universities may be turning into dinosaurs. After all, every business or institution has a life expectancy. Progress entails casualties. So, Tough!

Since I have taught in private schools most of my life (except for short stints in UP Diliman and in foreign public universities), I think that this extreme view is unacceptable.

I will take Valisno’s proposal any day rather than just throw in the towel.

On the other hand, between having HEIs take over Grades 11 and 12 completely and having HEIs just fold up, there are other proposals to solve the problem, such as Career Academies and Junior Colleges. More on them in future columns.

TEACHING TIP OF THE WEEK. From the Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning of the University of Western Australia comes this teaching tip: “Expect more and you will get it. High expectations are important for everyone — for the poorly prepared, for those unwilling to exert themselves, and for the bright and well motivated.”

Sam Miguel
03-26-2013, 10:47 AM
The new curriculum


By Isagani Cruz | Updated January 5, 2012 - 12:00am

2012 will truly be a new year for Philippine education.

In June 2012, students entering the first grade of elementary school and those entering the first year of high school will follow the new K to 12 curriculum.

Students already in elementary school today will have 12, rather than 10 years of basic education.

Students already in high school today will still have only four years of high school, but will have the option of taking two years of voluntary Senior High School in selected public and private schools.

Let us go through these developments one at a time.

What is in store for six-year-old children entering Grade 1 in June?

First of all, they will all have some form of pre-school education. Those in public schools will already have had a full year of Kindergarten. Those in private schools will most likely have had even more than one year of pre-school.

According to DepEd, only those who have had pre-school or Kindergarten will be allowed to enrol in Grade 1.

A question that always arises during discussions about K to 12 is this: what happens to the six-year-olds that have not had Kindergarten?

DepEd has proposed a solution. There will be an intensive Kindergarten in April and May. For children still without some kind of pre-schooling, there will be an even shorter quasi-Kindergarten during June itself.

Of course, there are serious problems with such an arrangement, but a little pre-schooling is better than none. The idea, however, is sound: children entering Grade 1 should already have experience in being in a classroom, socializing with other children.

What will Grade 1 be like in June?

The biggest change is in the duration of classes. Starting in June, Grade 1 students will stay in school for only half a day.

A typical Grade 1 class will have the following schedule:

Homeroom = 10 minutes

Reading and Writing in the Mother Tongue = 40 minutes

Oral Fluency in Filipino = 40 minutes

Edukasyon sa Pagpapakatao (EsP) = 30 minutes

Recess = 20 minutes

Mathematics or Arithmetic = 30 minutes

Araling Panlipunan (AP) = 30 minutes

Music, Arts, Physical Education, Health (MAPEH) = 30 minutes

That is the schedule for the first semester (or the first two grading periods) for Grade 1. During the second semester (or the last two grading periods), Oral Fluency in English will be added for 40 minutes.

In the first semester, the student will stay in school for only 210 minutes or 3 1/2 hours. In the second semester, that will be extended to 250 minutes or a little over four hours.

The second biggest change is the use of the mother tongue both as medium of instruction and as a separate subject.

As an example, take a typical Grade 1 class in Cebu. In June, the students will devote one period to Cebuano. They will learn how to read using Cebuano texts in the time allotted for “Reading and Writing in the Mother Tongue.” Students will also use Cebuano to study the other subjects, including Arithmetic.

The third biggest change is in the way Mathematics, AP, and Filipino will be taught. DepEd has decided to use the Spiral Approach. Simply put, that means that everything will be taught all at once, but in small doses.

The approach is best illustrated in Mathematics. In the current approach, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division are taught separately and in sequence.

Using the Spiral Approach, a typical lesson could go this way:

Take a group of five children. How many pencils do we need to have if each child would have one each? That is addition.

If another group of five children joins us, how many more pencils do we need? That is multiplication.

If one of the children goes home, how many pencils will we now need? That is subtraction.

If we had ten pencils and these two groups came to us at the same time, into how many groups of five pencils each do we need to arrange the pencils? That is division.

Instead of students learning the mathematical functions one lesson at a time, they will learn them all at once, within the same lesson. (This example is deliberately simplistic, but you get the idea.)

The fourth biggest change is the introduction of MAPEH. In the current curriculum, MAPEH starts in Grade 4. In the new curriculum, students are introduced to Philippine music, Philippine arts, physical education, and health issues immediately in Grade 1.

The biggest changes in Grade 7 (New High School Year 1) are the Spiral Approach and a new period called “Individual / Cooperative Learning.”

These big changes exemplify the major features of the new K to 12 curriculum.

The K to 12 curriculum is research-based. In order to draft it, curriculum designers had to look at what other countries are doing (thanks to foreign funding agencies that allowed Filipino experts to travel to other countries and foreign experts to come to the Philippines), what current pedagogical theories say (thanks to several local and foreign universities), and the situation on the ground (thanks to comprehensive reports from DepEd field offices). The designers have adapted the best practices of other countries to our own culture and experience. (To be continued)

Sam Miguel
03-26-2013, 10:49 AM
The K to 12 curriculum


By Isagani Cruz | Updated January 12, 2012 - 12:00am

Let us continue our discussion of the major features of the K to 12 curriculum.

In addition to being research-based, the new curriculum is decongested. One of the original reasons of the government for adding two years to our basic education is that Filipino students are forced to study in 10 years what students in other countries study in 12. While it is true that there are extraordinary Filipinos that do not need 12 years, as proven by their excelling in universities both here and abroad, most of our students are like students in other countries who need more time to prepare for productive adult life.

Students will no longer need to cram everything into ten years. In technical terms, this means that the minimum learning competencies or standards (what students know and what they are able to do with what they know) will be fewer per year in the K to 12 curriculum than in the current 10-year curriculum.

Last week, I mentioned two effects of this decongesting. First, Grade 1 classes will last much shorter next year than they do this year. Second, instead of having MAPEH for only three years in elementary school (starting only in Grade 4), students will now have MAPEH for the whole six years, thus spreading three years’ worth of study into six or halving what needs to be learned each year.

At the same time, the K to 12 curriculum is enhanced. That does not refer to the addition of new subjects directly related to employment. What it refers to is the way the existing subjects will be taught. Modern theories and techniques, more attuned to what has been called the new generation of “digital natives,” will be used in the new curriculum.

Actually, earlier than the K to 12 program, DepEd started updating the way students are taught, by introducing Understanding by Design (UBD), an unfortunately much-misunderstood curriculum planning tool. (In the Philippines, UBD is used to prepare lesson plans, which is not what it is good for, according to its original American designers, Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe. See ubdexchange.org.)

Another feature of the new curriculum concerns English, Filipino, and our various mother tongues. In earlier centuries, language training involved only four skills (speaking, listening, reading, writing), but in the late 20th century, a modern one (viewing) was added. DepEd already included viewing in the curriculum some time ago, but in the K to 12 curriculum, viewing takes a much larger role. The reason should be obvious: today’s youth spend quite a bit of time viewing images on television and pages on the Web.

One of the features of the new curriculum that I personally disapprove of (but since I am no longer an Undersecretary in DepEd, I cannot do much about it) is the downgrading of literature as a language learning resource. According to DepEd, the new curriculum features a “more proportionate distribution of informational and literary texts in Languages.” This means, in practice, that there will be fewer literary texts read by Filipino students from Kindergarten to Grade 10. (Do not worry, my dear literature teachers, literature is a major subject in the proposed curriculum for Senior High School.)

A selling point of K to 12 is the assurance that graduates of Senior High School will be able to work immediately, even before or without seeking a college degree. The new curriculum has Technology and Livelihood Education (TLE) and elective subjects that will enable students to obtain Certificates of Competency (COC) or National Certificates Level 1 or 2. COCs and NCs, handed out by TESDA today, are credentials that people earn in order to be employed by companies. At the end of Senior High School, a student will have not only a high school diploma needed for further studies, but also one or more certificates needed for immediate employment.

The new curriculum recognizes “the role of co-curricular activities and community service in the holistic development of children.” This means that students will not limit their learning to the classroom. Instead, they will be asked to learn from their communities outside campus. College students are familiar with this way of learning by doing; most of them render community service or undergo On-the-Job Training (OJT). Students in Senior High School will be given a similar opportunity to do OJT, internship, or apprenticeship.

Senior High School (Grades 11 and 12, or New High School Fifth Year and Sixth Year) will be the main vehicle for preparing students for work immediately after graduation. “In Grades 11 and 12,” says DepEd, “a student will go through a core of academic subjects and elective subjects of his/her choice.” Those electives will give students enough training for entrepreneurship or employment; those that have decided to go to college rather than work will take electives to prepare them for higher education.

In addition to these features are those I discussed last week, namely, the use of the mother tongue as medium of instruction and as a separate subject, and the spiral approach.

These, then, are the main features of the K to 12 curriculum: research-based, decongested, enhanced, viewing-related, informational, employment-ready, community-related, elective-rich, multilingual, and spiralled. (To be continued)

Sam Miguel
03-26-2013, 10:51 AM
Senior high school


By Isagani Cruz | Updated March 29, 2012 - 12:00am

The K to 12 program acknowledges that most, if not all Filipinos, want a college diploma. At the same time, most Filipinos (except priests and nuns vowed to poverty) want to make money, either as entrepreneurs or as employees. The program, therefore, promises to give every Grade 12 graduate a realistic chance to go to college or to earn a living immediately after graduation.

The program for Senior High School (SHS, or Grades 11 and 12) consists of two distinct parts: first, a core curriculum that prepares students for college, and second, a set of subjects (called “career pathways”) that prepare students for careers. All students are forced to take the core curriculum, as well as to choose at least one of the career pathways.

The core consists mostly of the same subjects that make up the rest of the K to 12 curriculum, namely, English, Filipino, Math, and Science. The content of Araling Panlipunan (Social Studies) continues in a new subject called “Contemporary Issues.” New in basic education are subjects taken from the General Education Curriculum (GEC) of college, namely, Literatures of the Philippines, Literatures of the World, and Philosophy of the Human Person.

The career pathways are of various kinds. There are those that come with a National Certification Level 2 (NC2) from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). (Grades 7 to 10 will enable students to obtain an NC1.) Examples of these are: Animal Production, Caregiving, Computing and Internet Fundamentals, Crop Production, Dressmaking, Electrical Installation and Maintenance, Food Processing, Home Management, Tailoring, Technical Drawing, and Welding. A school will most likely offer only one or two of these.

There are those that do not come with an NC but have equivalent certifications or recognition from other government and non-government bodies. Examples of these are: arts, foreign language, journalism, local language, music, security, sports, and theater. Career pathways related to arts may be assessed by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. Those related to sports may be assessed by the Philippine Sports Commission. Those related to foreign languages may be assessed by TESDA or by such foreign language institutes as the Alliance Francaise, the Goethe Institut, and Instituto Cervantes.

There are those that focus on entrepreneurship. Examples of these are bookkeeping, industrial design, marketing, and taxation. Willing to set up an accrediting system for entrepreneurship is Philippine Business for Education (PBEd), in cooperation with various business organizations.

The curriculum for SHS has not been finalized by Technical Working Groups for the various learning areas, but the general framework has been approved by the Steering Committee (the interagency body in charge of the K to 12 program).

In general, students in Grade 11 will spend about two-thirds of their time studying the core subjects. One-third of their time will be spent on their chosen career pathways, either on campus or – more likely – on an internship or immersion in a company. Students in Grade 12 will spend more than a third of their time in an internship or immersion.

In the original K to 12 program, the first Grade 11 sections were expected to be offered only in 2016, when those entering Junior High School this coming June will have finished Grade 10. Because some public and private schools, however, are ready to offer Grade 11 on a voluntary basis to their graduates this coming June, there are models already being accredited by the Department of Education (DepEd). These models will serve two purposes: they will enable recent high school graduates to enjoy the benefit of a dual-based SHS (dual because it is both college-ready and work-ready), and they will serve as laboratories to validate the curriculum.

Among schools that have indicated their willingness to serve as models of SHS are: Angeles City Trade School, Assumption Antipolo, Ateneo de Naga University, Bacolod National High School, Balagtas Agriculture National High School, Bataan School of Fisheries, Bukidnon National High School, Bukig Agricultural School, Centro Montessori International, Claret School of Quezon City, Colegio San Agustin Makati, Dingle Farm School, Doña Monserrat Lopez Memorial School, Iligan City School of Fisheries, Immaculate Conception Academy, Kananga-EDC Institute of Technology, Manila Central University, MGC New Life Christian Academy, Miriam College High School, OPOL National School of Arts and Trades, Our Lady of Fatima University, Philippine Women’s University, Pinagtangulan National High School, Rizal Experimental Station and Pilot School of Cottage Industries, San Pedro Relocation Center National High School, St. Jude Catholic School, St. Paul College Pasig, St. Pedro Poveda, Subangdaku Tech-Voc High School, Tagum City National Trade School, University of Makati, Xavier School, and schools belonging to the National Network of Normal Schools (3NS).

My own school, The Manila Times College, has formed a consortium with Asia Pacific College, Don Bosco Technical Institute, and the Business Processing Association of the Philippines to offer Grade 11 in June. We have designed a curriculum that will allow students to take core courses during Grade 11 and the first semester of Grade 12 and to go full-time into a BPO (most likely a call center) during their last semester. Very likely, these students will be hired by the BPOs where they will do their internship, thus fulfilling the main promise of the K to 12 program, namely, to allow students to earn a living immediately after high school graduation.

Sam Miguel
03-26-2013, 10:51 AM
Research in Philippine HEIs


By Isagani Cruz | Updated April 12, 2012 - 12:00am

How are the top Philippine universities doing in terms of research? A quick glance through SciVerse Scopus (one of two international authorities on academic journals, the other being Thomson Reuters ISI) reveals the following cumulative data from 1985 to February 2012.

UP Diliman had 1,786 published articles, generating 9,205 citations. DLSU had 725 articles and 3,489 citations. UST had 359 articles and 3,193 citations. Ateneo had 303 articles and 1,779 citations.

The numbers of publications and citations are major indicators of academic quality. These numbers, however, need to be seen in relation to the number of faculty members in these universities, as well as the journals in which these faculty members publish. International surveys have a way of figuring out the significance of journals and citations, through formulas like Impact Factor (IF), Hirsch Index (h-index), Eigenfactor, and PageRank. These measures take into account the case when only a few productive faculty members contribute to the total number of citations attributed to a university or when faculty members publish in journals that are listed by ISI or Scopus but are actually not read by leading scholars.

In a public hearing conducted by the Congressional Committee on Higher and Technical Education last February, I voiced my apprehensions about the current practice of our universities of giving cash awards to scholars that publish in ISI journals. I said that this practice is paradoxically harmful to our universities, because our scholars tend to publish in low-impact journals (easier to get into than the top journals) just to get the awards or to get promoted.

Since my fellow scholars will hate me if I propose the abolition of a much-desired benefit, I instead suggest to universities that they double or even triple the cash awards if a scholar publishes in one of the top ten journals in a field. Examples of these top journals are Nature, Science, New England Journal of Medicine, Cell, Journal of Biological Chemistry, and (in my field of literature) Publications of the Modern Language Association.

Sadly, even if we added all the numbers of all the citations of all our universities, we would not come close to those of the leading universities in the world (as of the last THES survey, Caltech, Harvard, Stanford, Oxford, and Princeton) or even in our region (Tokyo, Hong Kong, NUS, Peking, and Kyoto).

As DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro said in a meeting with publishers last April 2, we should not be competing with each other as we tend to do, but with the world. Perhaps it is time for the top Philippine universities to talk to each other to plan how to come close to Tokyo, if not to Caltech, in terms of research and publications.

ON UNIVERSITY STATUS: Those upset by CHED’s current attempt to redefine the term “university” should look at the existing definition in CMO 48, series of 1996.

According to this CMO, a school may be considered a university if it complies with all of the following conditions:

A university offers a 4-year course in liberal arts, a 4-year course in basic sciences or mathematics, a 4-year course in the social sciences, at least 3 professional courses that require graduates to apply for a license to practice, and at least 2 doctoral programs.

A university has achieved Level 3 accreditation for all undergraduate and 2 graduate programs.

A university must demonstrate excellence in teaching partly through the performance of its graduates in board examinations.

A university must have had at least three years of publishing research in refereed journals.

A university must have a community extension program.

At least 50 percent of its faculty in arts and sciences must be full-time. At least 20 percent of the entire faculty should have doctoral degrees, and at least 10 percent of the entire faculty should be full-time and doctoral degree holders. At least 35 percent of the entire faculty should have master’s degrees and at least 70 percent of these master’s degree holders should be full-time.

A university must have at least 5 hectares of land, 3 of which should be contiguous.

Finally, a university must have a library that conforms to the various orders issued by CHED.

Here is a question for our existing universities. Have they complied with all these conditions, set not recently but as early as 1996? I seriously doubt that most of our universities have achieved Level 3 accreditation for all their undergraduate and at least two graduate programs. I also seriously doubt that most of our universities have a track record of publishing in refereed journals (by which CHED means ISI or Scopus journals). We really ought to rethink the way we grant university status to just about any school Congressmen or LGUs establish, or to any private school that thinks of itself as a university.

On the other hand, it is good that CHED is rethinking its existing definition of a university. For example, in addition to requiring all those numbers, CHED should look at the quality (rather than just the quantity) of research. How exactly is a university doing something for the country, not just in offering its students better chances for employment, but in thinking of ways to help the country get out of the moral mess that we are in right now?

Sam Miguel
03-26-2013, 10:53 AM
The new curriculum


By Isagani Cruz | Updated May 10, 2012 - 12:00am

The Department of Education Order (DO) no. 31, series of 2012, describes the new curriculum this way: “The overall design of the Grades 1 to 10 curriculum follows the spiral approach across subjects by building on the same concepts developed in increasing complexity and sophistication starting from grade school. Teachers are expected to use the spiral/progression approach in teaching competencies.”

The first thing to notice about this description is that the spiral approach is used not only for science and math subjects (as often misunderstood) but for all subjects. The second thing to notice is that the spiral approach is used from Grade 1 to Grade 10. This means that the curriculum is not divided into elementary school and high school, the way it used to be. There is now “vertical articulation,” or a seamless progression of competencies from the first grade of elementary school to the last grade of junior high school. (The seamlessness actually continues all the way to the university curriculum, but DO 31 is only about Grades 1 to 10. Future DOs and CHED memorandum orders will take the curriculum all the way to graduate school.)

What is the spiral approach? That virtual genius called Wikipedia compares the approach to the game Twenty Questions; that analogy would have been even better if Wikipedia had used Pinoy Henyo. In both games, we first ask general questions (Human? Male?), before we go into specifics. In the spiral approach, we teach everything at once, but only in the most general terms. As the children get older, we teach more and more details. At the end of their education, the children know everything that needs to be known about a subject or know how to learn whatever still has to be known.

DO 31 specifies the “Desired Outcomes of the Grades 1 to 10 Program”: “The desired outcomes of the Grades 1 to 10 program are defined in terms of expectancies as articulated in the learning standards. In general terms, students are expected at the end of Grade 10 to demonstrate communicative competence; think intelligently, critically and creatively in life situations; make informed and values-based decisions; perform their civic duties; use resources sustainably; and participate actively in artistic and cultural activities and in the promotion of wellness and lifelong fitness.”

That sounds like the goal of all education, all the way up to graduate school, but this is the spiral approach. The goal is the same for Grade 1 students and for sub-sub-specialists in medicine.

Notice the big change in the way DO 31 approaches curriculum design. In the past, it was considered correct to think in terms of what the student should be given (techniques to teach students how to read, how to count, how to brush their teeth, that sort of thing). We used to worry about how to prepare a teacher to teach (get an education degree, pass the licensure exams, publish an article or two). We used to focus on what a teacher planned to do in class, insisting on detailed lesson plans prepared days, even weeks in advance. (Note to DepEd: please start thinking of doing away with routine lesson plans that merely take up time a teacher should devote to reading up on the latest education research.) We used, in short, to worry about the input side of education.

In DO 31, the focus has shifted to output. Following the general outcomes-based trend in education around the world, DO 31 emphasizes what the students can do after ten years of education. Note that we no longer want to test if children can add and subtract, but if they can “make informed and values-based decisions.” That is a bit harder to assess, but there are tools now available precisely for this purpose. (Later in the DO, DepEd does away with numerical grades and mandates a more qualitative system of assessment. That is in keeping with this radical shift from input to output.)

How, exactly, do we know if children are basing their decisions on values (and not just values, but the “right” values)? Following the logic of the spiral approach itself, DO 31 breaks down the general outcomes into specific ones. DO 31 continues: “These general expectancies are expressed in specific terms in the form of content and performance standards.”

DO 31 makes it clear that understanding is now a key product of the curriculum. Yes, this comes from Understanding By Design (UBD), but properly understood as a tool for curriculum design, not for classroom teaching. DO 31 continues: “The content standards define what students are expected to know (knowledge: facts and information), what they should be able to do (process or skills) with what they know, and the meanings or understandings that they construct or make as they process the facts and information. Thus, the content standards answer the question: ‘What do students want to know, be able to do, and understand?’”

Read that last sentence again. The new curriculum is based on what students want to know, not on what teachers, administrators, and adults want them to know. In addition to shifting from input to output, the new curriculum features a shift of focus from teacher to student. (To be continued)

Sam Miguel
03-26-2013, 10:53 AM
Learning areas


By Isagani Cruz | Updated May 17, 2012 - 12:00am

According to Department of Education Order (DO) 31, series of 2012, these are the learning areas for all students in all public and private elementary and high schools: (1) Integrated Language Arts (Mother Tongue, Filipino, English); (2) Science; (3) Mathematics; (4) Araling Panlipunan (AP); (5) Edukasyong Pantahanan at Pangkabuhayan (EPP) / Technology and Livelihood Education (TLE); (6) Music, Art, Physical Education and Health (MAPEH); and (7) Edukasyon sa Pagpapakatao (EsP).

To appreciate the changes in the learning areas, we have to recall the campaign promises of President Aquino regarding education. These were: (1) 12-year basic education cycle; (2) universal pre-schooling for all; (3) madaris education as a sub-system within the education system; (4) technical vocational education as an alternative stream in senior high school; (5) every child a reader by Grade 1; (6) science and math proficiency; (7) assistance to private schools as essential partners in basic education; (8) medium of instruction rationalized; (9) quality textbooks; and (10) covenant with local governments to build more schools.

Let us take the first learning area. The new K to 12 curriculum fulfils Promise No. 8 of President Aquino. The medium of instruction has now been rationalized. DO 31 puts it this way: “The ultimate goal is communicative competence both oral and written in three languages.” The way to achieve communicative competence is through the development of literacy or reading skills in the Mother Tongue in Grade 1 (fulfilling Promise No. 5) till Grade 3, transferring these skills to two second languages (Filipino and English).

During his campaign, President Aquino was very vocal about his ideas on language. He said, for example, “My view is that we should become tri-lingual as a country. Learn English well and connect to the world. Learn Filipino well and connect to our country. Retain your mother tongue and connect to your heritage.” Since we elected him overwhelmingly and since we still support him overwhelmingly, we obviously agree with him. We must preserve our mother tongues; many of our vernacular languages are in danger of disappearing. We must learn English if we want to succeed globally. We must learn Filipino if we want to remain one nation and not a collection of islands and regions speaking different languages.

DO 31 puts into practice these theoretical ideas not just of President Aquino, but of UNESCO, all linguists everywhere in the world, and all the education surveys conducted on our country. (Read the EDCOM report, for example.)

In all Grade 1 classes starting next month, therefore, the medium of instruction for Mathematics, AP, MAPEH, and EsP will be the mother tongue. (Of course, the medium of instruction for English is English and for Filipino is Filipino.) Operationally, there are 12 mother tongues that DepEd has prepared for: Bahasa Sug (Tausug), Bicolano, Cebuano, Chabacano, Hiligaynon (Ilonggo), Ilocano, Kapampangan, Maguindanao, Maranao, Pangasinan, Tagalog, and Waray (Samar-Leyte). No one, however, is stopped from using another mother tongue; Lubuagan Kalinga, for example, is already being used successfully as a medium of instruction. Experts are currently working on instructional materials in other languages, such as Ivatan and Yakan.

Why use the mother tongue? Let me just quote from the website of the Summer Institute of Linguistics:

“The languages of instruction and literacy (English and Filipino) in Philippine schools are foreign and incomprehensible to more than 70 percent of Philippine students.

“Using the language the child understands — the child’s first language, or mother tongue — for teaching lesson content in the first 6 years of school, not only enables the child to immediately master curriculum content, but in the process, it affirms the value of the child and her/his cultural and language heritage. Additionally, because Filipino and English are taught as subjects, learning skills that are built using the child’s mother tongue are easily applied to the acquisition of Filipino and English.

“First language education teaches children how to learn by using a familiar medium, and in the process builds critical thinking skills — cognition — so necessary in the learning process. As subject matter gets increasingly complex in later grades, studies show that children are able to transfer these cognitive skills to other media of instruction, and to the learning of more difficult subject matter, often taught in Filipino and English.

“Longitudinal studies being conducted by Diane and Greg Dekker, and Dr. Stephen L. Walter, under the auspices of SIL International and the Philippine Department of Education, in Lubuagan, Kalinga, Philippines, are showing that children being educated using their mother tongue first are out-performing students being educated in Filipino-first and English-first, by a difference of 40 percentage points.”

There were earlier studies, both in the Philippines and in numerous countries around the world, all pointing to the same conclusion: children learn faster and better if taught first in their mother tongue.

DO 31 mandates that, in all schools, “Mother Tongue (MT) shall be used as the medium of instruction and as a subject from Grade1 to 3. English or Filipino is used from Grade 4 to 10. Both languages are taught from Grade 1 to 10.”

Actually, the mother tongue has been used as a medium of instruction in many public schools since President Estrada’s time. What is new is the addition of a subject on the mother tongue itself from Grade 1 to 3. (To be continued)

Sam Miguel
03-26-2013, 10:55 AM
SHS model schools


By Isagani Cruz | Updated May 31, 2012 - 12:00am

Question: What do these schools or school systems have in common?

Al Shorouq International School, Alejandro Roces High School, Angeles City Trade School, Asia Pacific College, Assumption Antipolo, Ateneo de Naga University, Bacolod City National High School, Balagtas Agriculture National High School, Bataan School of Fisheries, Bukig Agricultural School, Centro Montessori Internationale, Colegio San Agustin Makati, Davao Doctors College, Don Bosco Schools and TVT Centers, Doña Monserrat Lopez Memorial High School,

Fernandez College of Arts and Technology, Global City Innovative College, Holy Name University, Iligan City School of Fisheries, Immaculate Concepcion Academy, Manila Central University, Marriott School, Mary Help of Christians Schools, MGC New Life Christian Academy, Miriam College, Notre Dame of Greater Manila,

OPOL National School of Arts and Trades, Our Lady of Fatima University, Our Lady of Lourdes School, Palawan State University, Parañaque City Division of City Schools, Philippine Normal University, Philippine Women’s College of Davao, Philippine Women’s University, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Rizal Experimental Station and Pilot School of Cottage Industries, Roman Catholic Bishop of Novaliches Educational System,

Saint Jude Catholic School, San Pedro Relocation Center National High School, St. Paul College Pasig, St. Stephen’s High School, Subangdaku Tech-Voc High School, Tagum City National Trade School, The Manila Times College, and University of Makati.

Answer: They are all planning to offer Grade 11 this year or next year. Called “Model Schools,” they are part of the research and development project being undertaken by the government for Senior High School (SHS) or Grades 11 and 12.

One of the crucial stages in curriculum development is testing in actual classrooms. This is one of the things that the offering of SHS ahead of schedule is meant to do. The full implementation of SHS will occur only in June 2016, when the current batch of Grade 7 (First Year High School) students will graduate from Junior High School (Grades 7 to 10). At that time, the Department of Education (DepEd) can then use a curriculum that would have been tested under varying conditions by the model schools.

DepEd has formulated a provisional curriculum for SHS (Grades 11 and 12). The curriculum aims at ensuring that all SHS graduates (and, therefore, all graduates of basic education) will be prepared to do three things: first, to enter college; second, to get employed; and third, to become entrepreneurs. What they will actually do will be up to the graduates themselves, based on their aptitude, financial situation, and dreams.

The curriculum is divided into two main parts: an academic core curriculum for college preparedness and a set of career pathways that students can choose from.

The academic core curriculum consists of the usual DepEd subjects: English, Filipino, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, and MAPEH (Music, Arts, Physical Education, Health). There are two new subjects, Literature and Philosophy, which come from the current General Education Curriculum of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

The career pathways may be classified into three broad types: Technical-Vocational, Entrepreneurship, and Others.

Examples of Technical-Vocational pathways are Internet and Computing Fundamentals, Welding, Plumbing, Technical Drawing, Home Management or Housekeeping, Cooking or Food Processing, Electrical Installation and Maintenance, Dressmaking and Tailoring, Crop Production, Animal Production, and Caregiving. TESDA has a number of other options for SHS.

Students who want to set up their own business will be helped by various business organizations, coordinated by the Philippine Business for Education (PBEd), which has identified courses such as financial literacy, product development, and market competitiveness assessment.

Lumped into “Others” (because they have little in common) are specializations such as Arts, Foreign Languages, Journalism, Philippine Languages, Security, and Sports.

Most of these career pathways involve actual immersion or on-the-job training (OJT) in companies or organizations. They are, in other words, meant to be practical courses, with real-life experience in careers that students may eventually choose for themselves.

What are the model schools offering as career pathways? Here are some examples: Commercial Cooking (Bukig), Fish Products Packaging (Bataan), Food and Beverage Services (Rizal), Computer Aided Drafting (Tagum), Light Vehicle Driving (Roces), Bread and Pastry Production (PWC), Risk Reduction and Disaster Preparedness (Bacolod), Choral Music (Miriam). DepEd requires model schools to consider institutional capability, acceptability to students and parents, and relevance to the local context or community.

The consortium formed by Asia Pacific College, Don Bosco Schools and TVET Centers, and The Manila Times College offers a BPO-oriented ADM Higher School, in cooperation with the Business Processing Association of the Philippines. In addition to the subjects in the draft curriculum approved by the government’s Sub-Technical Working Group on Senior High School, the ADM Higher School offers these subjects: Fundamentals of Business Process Outsourcing, Service Culture, Business Communication, and Principles of Systems Thinking. In the last 15 weeks of Grade 12, students will work full-time in a BPO company. Another innovation of ADM Higher School is its guarantee of employment for graduates: the final exam of the two-year course is the screening done by the BPOs themselves.

If you are a high school graduate with no immediate plans of going to college, contact any of the model schools. At the end of two years, you will be employed, will be an employer, or will be a college student. It is all up to you.

Sam Miguel
03-26-2013, 10:55 AM
Grade 7


By Isagani Cruz (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 14, 2012 - 12:00am

Starting this month, there will no longer be any such thing as a “First Year High School” in the Philippines. Instead, there will be “Grade 7.”

What is Grade 7 and what difference does it make?

First of all, the change in name is not merely a change in name. It signals the beginning of a major reform in Philippine secondary education. Of course, that reform is part of the bigger K to 12 project of President Aquino, but even by itself, Grade 7 is a paradigm shift.

Let us look at some of the implications of Grade 7.

The most obvious one is the attempt by the Department of Education (DepEd) to dismantle what has been called the “Berlin Wall of Philippine Education.” Before this month, primary or elementary education was considered to be completely different from and even irrelevant to secondary education. That “wall” was cemented by geography and architecture: the campuses of public elementary schools and those of public high schools were usually separate and far apart.

Within DepEd, the existence of two massive organizations – the Bureau of Elementary Education and the Bureau of Secondary Education – with their own complement of experts and administrators led to a disjunction between elementary and secondary curriculums. What students took up in First Year High School tended not to be based on what they had learned in Grade 6. The two bureaus still exist, but since the K to 12 program started, they have worked with each other in formulating what is called “the seamless K to 12 curriculum.”

In fact, because of the existence of the Steering Committee (President Aquino’s organizational way of bringing various government departments together, including the education committees of the Senate and the House), even the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has been forced to take into account what DepEd has been doing. In the current General Education Curriculum, for example, as all students know but all administrators choose to ignore, algebra is a required subject, even if algebra is already taken up in high school.

By renaming the next year level after the last year of elementary school, DepEd has planted the idea that there is no qualitative difference between Grade 6 and Grade 7. Students do not suddenly become different by becoming one year older.

The second implication follows from the first. The grading system is now the same for both Grade 1 and Grade 7. Eventually, in fact, when the entire K to 12 curriculum is implemented, the grading system will be the same from Grade 1 to Grade 12.

The new grading system is radically different from the previous ones. Students will now receive letter grades rather than number grades. These letter grades, incidentally, are not the same as those in some private colleges or in other countries (where B is the next best grade to A). In the new grading system, the letters correspond to different levels of achievement of students in performing real-life tasks.

Here is the grading system as mandated by DepEd Order 31, series of 2012:

B for Beginning (“the student struggles with his/her understanding”).

D for Developing (“the student needs help throughout the performance of authentic tasks”).

AP for Approaching Proficiency (“the student, with little guidance from the teacher and/or with some assistance from peers, can transfer core understandings through authentic performance tasks”).

P for Proficient (“the student can transfer fundamental knowledge and skills and core understandings independently through authentic performance tasks”).

A for Advanced (“the student exceeds the core requirements in terms of knowledge, skills and understandings, and can transfer them automatically and flexibly through authentic performance tasks”).

Since Filipino teachers are not yet ready to think qualitatively but are still used to giving number grades, the DepEd Order gives equivalent numerical values to the letters: 74% and below is B, 75-79% is D, 80-84% is AP, 85-89% is P, and 90% and above is A. This equivalency, however, is only temporary. Once teachers get used to thinking qualitatively, the numbers can and should be dropped. (After all, in universities in America, teachers instinctively know when a student deserves an A or a B.)

The third implication also follows from the first. The subjects in high school now follow the nomenclature of the subjects in elementary school. The subjects are Filipino, English, Mathematics, Science, Araling Panlipunan, MAPEH, and Edukasyon sa Pagpapakatao (EsP). In addition, Grade 1 has a subject called Mother Tongue, and Grade 7 has Technology and Livelihood Education (TLE).

The fourth implication of Grade 7 has to do with private schools. Before this month, there were still a few private schools that required a so-called Grade 7, which was actually a nice way of saying to parents that their children were not yet ready for high school. With the renamed and official Grade 7, no private school will now be able to offer that extra year. Private schools will now be forced to improve their teaching in order for all children (not only the bright ones) to get to the next grade.

The biggest change with Grade 7 has to do with teaching. All the subjects (not only Mathematics and Science) are now spiralled. In fact, all subjects starting from Grade 1 are now spiralled. (To be continued)

Sam Miguel
03-26-2013, 10:56 AM
University rankings


By Isagani Cruz (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 21, 2012 - 12:00am

After crying over the latest blow to our academic ego by QS Asian University Rankings, let us look seriously at the top Asian universities and see if we can copy their best practices. Whether or not the rankings are correctly computed, it is clear that the top Asian universities indeed command the respect of academics across the region and all over the world.

These are the top ten Asian universities:

(1) The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

(2) National University of Singapore (NUS)

(3) University of Hong Kong

(4) Seoul National University

(5) The Chinese University of Hong Kong

(6) Peking University

(7) Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST)

(8) The University of Tokyo

(9) Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH)

(10) Kyoto University

What do these universities have in common?

Most obvious is their focus on science and technology. Unlike them, our universities tend to focus more on the humanities.

In fact, UP ranks 34th and Ateneo ranks 35th in the world (in the world, not in Asia!) for English. DLSU ranks in the top 51-100 and UST in the top 101-150 in English in the world.

UP ranks in the top 51-100 in Geography and Area Studies and in the top 151-200 in Modern Languages in the world.

We might want to just build on our strengths and forget about science and technology, but we would then never rank among the best universities overall in Asia.

It is not, however, only about ranking. If we do not refocus our attention on science and technology, we will always be consumers and not manufacturers, followers and not leaders. That is unfortunate, because we Filipinos are very intelligent people. There is no reason for us not to be able to come up with better ideas than the Japanese, the Koreans, and the Chinese. What we do not have, however, is the academic infrastructure for science and technology.

I am not talking of huge machines and expensive laboratories. I am talking of the disincentives for scientists and technical people to create new technologies. How can anyone invent the Next Big Thing while teaching algebra to math-challenged students? As I have always said about literature, we cannot produce world-class novels if we have to worry about the dangling participles of students.

In addition to freeing teachers from teaching, we should be willing to let our science faculty spend years doing nothing externally productive (teaching well, writing journal articles, attending committee meetings). At the end of several years, even a decade, one or more of them will suddenly produce the Next Big Thing. Believe me, if anyone on earth can do it, we can do it — provided we are given the time and the freedom to create.

Administrators have to start re-evaluating their retention and promotion criteria. There is something seriously wrong with the way we evaluate teachers and students. Think of why Harvard, NYU, Reed, Ripon, Sacramento State, and Stanford could not keep the world’s most famous dropouts in school — Harrison Ford, Lady Gaga, Bill Gates, Tom Hanks, Steve Jobs, Tiger Woods, and Mark Zuckerberg.

Second, our strength in English turns out to be a mixed blessing. In the list of the top 50 Asian universities, most excellent universities do not use English as a main medium of instruction. Notable exceptions, of course, are the universities in Hong Kong, India, and Singapore.

In Hong Kong, however, the medium of instruction in most primary and secondary schools is Cantonese Chinese. In India, public primary and secondary education is conducted mainly in the local official language (for example, Tamil, Konkani, Marathi, Telugu). Singapore pre-university schools use English and a mother tongue (Chinese, Malay, or Tamil). What this implies is that there is no impediment for excelling in English-only universities for those educated in their mother tongues. Conversely, it seems to be easier for those educated in their mother tongues to excel in universities.

It might not be coincidental that the top three Philippine schools do not use English exclusively on the tertiary level. UP, Ateneo, and DLSU all have a significant number of courses taught in Filipino. We might say that we are trying to have the best of both worlds — the use of English in Hong Kong, India, and Singapore, and the use of the local languages in all the other countries in Asia.

Third, all (or the vast majority) of the faculty members in the top universities have Ph.Ds. In our universities, there are even teachers that do not have master’s degrees! CHED should really start cracking down on such “college professors.” (Of course, not all tertiary level institutions need teachers with doctorates. What CHED envisions as Professional Institutes need practitioners, who usually do not hold advanced degrees. But universities are not professional institutes.)

Fourth, all the top universities are either state owned or heavily subsidized by the state. In the Philippines, most higher education institutions are privately owned, either by families or religious orders. The doctrine of separation of Church and State has unduly hampered our academic development as a nation. The government must start investing heavily in private education and not be contented with the current assistance rates.

Finally, we must stop comparing our universities with each other and start competing with the top universities in Asia and in the world.

Sam Miguel
03-26-2013, 10:57 AM
PPP in education


By Isagani Cruz (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 12, 2012 - 12:00am

Here is a portion of a report on a survey of education done in 2001 by the RAND Corporation:

“RAND’s analysis identified key system strengths and weaknesses, most of which were already well-known. A key problem was the rigidity of the Department of Education, whose insular, bureaucratic structure discouraged innovation and limited communication both within the Department and with stakeholders. School-level administrators had little authority. The Department assigned teachers to schools without consulting principals. Teachers were often assigned to teach subjects for which they had little or no training.

“Department inspectors regularly visited classrooms, but their job was to ensure compliance with the mandated curriculum; they provided no support to teachers. The Department provided texts linked to a single, nationally mandated curriculum that was revised at the rate of one grade level per year. Both curriculum and instruction emphasized rote memorization and adhered to a rigid schedule that permitted no alterations to accommodate student progress or need for additional instructional time around certain topics.

“At the system level, no accountability mechanism for school or student performance existed. Substantial education resources were concentrated in the Department to a large central Department staff, leaving limited funds for infrastructure. Many school buildings were old, and many classrooms were overcrowded and lacked modern equipment and supplies. Teachers’ salaries were low compared with those of other nations.”

I changed the word “Ministry” to “Department,” in order to mislead you into thinking that RAND was talking about the Philippines. In fact, RAND did the study of schools in Qatar. The excerpt comes from an article entitled “K-12 Education Reform in Qatar,” written by Gail L. Zellman, Louay Constant, and Charles A. Goldman, published in a 2011 issue of the German journal named “Orient.”

What struck me about the article (which I read while in Berlin last week) was the Emir’s acceptance of a long-term solution recommended by RAND, namely, “providing vouchers for families to enroll their children in private schools.”

The problems of Qatar and the problems of the Philippines are almost identical, except that they have less than 100,000 students and only 220 schools, and we have more than 20 million students and 45,000 schools. Qatar has a single ruler who can make all the crucial decisions on education; in contrast, in the Philippines, everybody considers himself or herself the authority on education.

Fortunately, unlike Qatar, we already have a voucher system. The Education Service Contracting (ESC) program allows public school students to attend classes in private schools. Because of its limited budget, however, our Department of Education (DepEd) can send only very few students to private schools.

Former Education Secretary Mona Valisno has been advocating a radical solution to the problems that will be posed by the introduction of Senior High School (SHS, consisting of Grades 11 and 12) in 2016. Since DepEd will have to spend billions to buy property, to build classrooms, and to hire and train teachers for those two extra grades, Valisno wisely suggests that it would be much cheaper for the government to just give vouchers to all public school students that want to proceed to SHS, allowing them to study in private schools.

I am not implying anything about the quality of education in private schools as compared to that in public schools. Since public schools have not yet offered SHS and only a few private high schools offer the equivalents of Grades 11 and 12, such talk about quality is completely without any empirical value.

We are talking only about money. DepEd would save a lot of money by sending students to private SHSs, instead of putting up its own schools. In fact, DepEd has already partly made that decision, because it has been encouraging private Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to set up SHS on their campuses.

My proposal, then (and it is not just mine, but that of numerous educators), is to have Grades 11 and 12 taught by private high schools or private HEIs, not just during the transition period, but permanently.

Because we need a 12-year basic education cycle, these private HEIs with SHS have to report to DepEd, not to the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). Having a school report to two government agencies is not a new thing anyway; many HEIs today report to both CHED and TESDA (if they have TESDA-accredited ladderized programs). There is nothing wrong with a school reporting to three government agencies. After all, before trifocalization took place in our education system, schools were in effect reporting to all three agencies within one Department of Education.

In fact, DepEd has started the process of subcontracting (we can even call it “internal business processing outsourcing”) with DepEd Order No. 36, series of 2012, entitled “Guidelines on the 2012 Implementation of the Senior High School (SHS) Modelling in Selected Technical and Vocational Education and General Secondary Schools under the K to 12 Basic Education Program.”

DepEd Order No. 36 deals only with existing private high schools, not with private HEIs, because it is CHED that deals with HEIs.

Since many of the current subjects offered in the first two years of college will be taught in SHS, it is a simple matter for college teachers to teach these subjects, thus saving hiring and training costs. (To be continued)

Sam Miguel
03-26-2013, 10:58 AM
CHED and K to 12


By Isagani Cruz (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 6, 2012 - 12:00am

Fr. Joel Tabora, S.J., president of the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAASCU) and of Ateneo de Davao University (ADDU), as well as a representative of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) and of the Coordinating Council for Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA), wrote a letter dated Sept. 3, 2012, to the Commission on Quality Assurance of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

In his letter, Tabora appealed to CHED to postpone the implementation of its Outcomes- and Typology-Based Quality Assurance (OTBQA) Program. (If you are wondering about all the acronyms, be aware that Filipino education officials love to talk in capital letters.) Tabora had many reservations about the OTBQA, not to mention the outcomes-based paradigm and the typology, but I do not agree completely with him on the points that he raised.

I agree with his main point, however, namely, that CHED should wait for the finalization of the K to 12 curriculum before instituting major changes in tertiary education.

Let me quote Tabora on the K to 12 reform being undertaken by the government, in conjunction with the business and private sectors. I should first say that Tabora is an advocate of K to 12 and has, in fact, contributed quite a bit to its conceptual framework.

Says Tabora:

“First, while the Aquino administration has already called for its implementation, K-12 still does not enjoy supportive legislation. This makes it extremely difficult for private HEIs to plan for the ramifications of this reform. For many private HEIs, at stake is not only adherence to quality standards, but the prospects of survival.

“Second, the prospect of no freshmen students in 2016 and 2017 is an administrative nightmare deeply affecting institutional finances and viability, as well as the careers of a significant number of tertiary-level teachers.

“Third, the K-12 reform has ushered in many curricular changes affecting not only universal kindergarten, the old Grades 1-10, the new 11 and 12; it will also affect tertiary-level curricula.

“While the CHED has come out with College Readiness Standards, and while the proposals relative to Tertiary-Level General Education are now under consultation, the effect of K-12 on the tertiary-level programs will be both significant and destabilizing, as both the regulated and the regulators try to find their way through unchartered territory again.

“Clearly, K-12 shall thrust private HEIs into an unwanted transitional upheaval – which for some may mean significant loss of personnel in order to survive, or, if possible, transfer of personnel according to the demands of the K-12 roll out. How institutions will have to manage this, considering existing permanent appointments, is no small challenge. Private institutions have, nevertheless, for the good of our educational system, deliberately chosen to bite the bullet to accommodate this necessary reform, even though the actual consequences for many are uncertain.”

Both Tabora and I are members of CHED’s Technical Panel for General Education (TPGE), currently conducting public hearings around the country. We are fully aware of the problems facing Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) when they adapt a new General Education Curriculum (GEC). We are also aware that, unless CHED prepares its policies and standards early enough, there will be chaos and panic in 2018, when the first K to 12 graduates enter college.

Like Tabora, I feel that CHED should work quickly on the effects of K to 12 on higher education. Like Tabora, I also feel that such work will take all of the time and energy of CHED, as well as of HEIs. CHED need not rush quality assurance. Survival comes first, before quality. We need to have schools first, before we worry about whether they are any good. 2018 is just around the corner. (Just think, the “ber” months have come, sooner than anybody expected.)

Therefore, I fully support Tabora’s appeal, namely, as he puts it, “I am constrained to recommend that CHED en banc hold off the approval of this OTBQA Program at least until there is more tranquility in the K-12 field. My recommendation would be that, in lieu of this, CHED help the private HEIs in their transition to K-12.”

Sam Miguel
03-26-2013, 10:59 AM
Is plagiarism a crime?


By Isagani Cruz (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 13, 2012 - 12:00am

Much has been said recently about plagiarism. Everyone (even serial plagiarists) knows what it is. It is, simply put, stealing somebody’s idea and pretending that it is your own. It is intellectual theft. It breaks the commandment “Thou shalt not steal.”

It is definitely a sin, but is it a crime?

Let me refer to the law that governs intellectual property, namely, Republic Act No. 8293, known as the “Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines.” It was passed by the Tenth Congress, one of whose members was a certain Vicente Castelo Sotto III.

Chapter 10 of the law talks about the Moral Rights of an author. Section 193 talks of the Scope of Moral Rights, which includes the right “to require that the authorship of the works be attributed to him, in particular, the right that his name, as far as practicable, be indicated in a prominent way on the copies, and in connection with the public use of his work.”

The law clearly provides that the name of the author should be prominently mentioned when his or her work is used publicly. In other words, even if I made a blanket statement that everything I said in a particular work was taken from the work of others, that does not satisfy the requirement of the law. I have to mention the name of the author from which I took my words or ideas.

Section 198 further provides that “the rights of an author under this chapter (Chapter 10) shall last during the lifetime of the author and for fifty (50) years after his death and shall not be assignable or subject to license.” If the author is still alive, I have no choice but to mention his or her name when I take words or ideas from him.

Why ideas? Because plagiarism does not involve only words. It also involves ideas. If I added or altered a word here or there, or even if all my words were different from those of the original author, I would still be committing plagiarism if the idea is the same. This is the main difference between copyright and plagiarism. Copyright protects the expression of an idea or the exact words of the original author. The prohibition against plagiarism protects the idea itself, no matter how it is expressed.

Therefore, using different words or even a different language but expressing the same ideas is plagiarism.

Does plagiarism violate the moral rights of an author under the Intellectual Property Code?

What about international law? Look up “Understanding Copyright and Related Rights” on the website of the World Intellectual Property Association. The Berne Convention includes “the right to claim authorship of the work,” which is “independent of the author’s economic rights.” Foreign authors, like local authors, are entitled to protection under our law.

If it is a crime, is there a punishment? According to Section 217 of RA 8293, “Any person infringing any right secured by provisions of Part IV (“The Law on Copyright”) of this Act or aiding or abetting such infringement shall be guilty of a crime punishable by:

“(a) Imprisonment of one (1) year to three (3) years plus a fine ranging from Fifty thousand pesos (P50,000) to One hundred fifty thousand pesos (P150,000) for the first offense;

“(b) Imprisonment of three (3) years and one (1) day to six (6) years plus a fine ranging from One hundred fifty thousand pesos (P150,000) to Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000) for the second offense;

“(c) Imprisonment of six (6) years and one (1) day to nine (9) years plus a fine ranging from five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000) to one million five hundred thousand pesos (P1,500,000) for the third and subsequent offenses.”

A secondary issue has been raised about copyright. Are blogs and writings on the Web copyrighted? Chapter 2, Section 172.1, of the law puts it as clearly: “Literary and artistic works, hereinafter referred to as ‘works,’ are original intellectual creations in the literary and artistic domain protected from the moment of their creation and shall include in particular: (a) Books, pamphlets, articles and other writings.” The word “writings” is not limited to printed material. Writings on the Web are writings.

In fact, Section 172.2 says that “works are protected by the sole fact of their creation, irrespective of their mode or form of expression, as well as of their content, quality and purpose.” The mode or form of expression is immaterial. Whether on the Web, in oral speech, or in a printed publication, a literary work (meaning, a work that uses words, hence, literary) is protected at the moment of creation and because it was created. There is no need for any copyright registration nor even a copyright notice on a webpage.

Is plagiarism a crime? Are authors such as Janice Formichella and Sarah Pope, as well as the literary executors of Robert Kennedy, entitled to press criminal charges because their moral rights have been violated under Philippine and international law?

I am not a lawyer, but as an author, I say that serial plagiarists not only deserve to burn in the fires of hell in the next life for having broken the Seventh Commandment, but to suffer in jail in this life for six to nine years.

Sam Miguel
03-26-2013, 10:59 AM
Criminals in the classroom


By Isagani Cruz (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 20, 2012 - 12:00am

Teachers, scholars, school administrators, and even students have been understandably and justifiably upset by the recent cases of plagiarism by high officials of the land.

Following the admonition in the gospels of Matthew (7:3) and Luke (6:41) to look first at the beam or log in our own eye before noticing the speck in our brother’s eye, however, allow me to point to a crime being committed every single day in practically all of our colleges and universities.

I refer to the widespread practice of photocopying copyrighted material.

Of course, copyright infringement is different from plagiarism. Plagiarism, which is stealing someone else’s idea, is a sin. Plagiarism is, in fact, considered by all educational institutions to be a mortal sin, or more precisely, an offense so heinous that offenders are flunked (if they are students) or fired (if they are teachers).

Copyright infringement, however, which is using or copying someone else’s exact words without first asking permission, is a crime, according to RA 8293 or the “Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines.” Since it copies exact words, photocopying journal articles or books is copyright infringement.

Some misguided teachers and schools have invoked Sec. 185 of Chapter 8 of Part 4 of the law. This part is entitled “The Law on Copyright.”

The section, entitled “Fair Use of a Copyrighted Work,” reads this way: “The fair use of a copyrighted work for criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching including multiple copies for classroom use, scholarship, research, and similar purposes is not an infringement of copyright. … In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is fair use, the factors to be considered shall include: (a) The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for non-profit education purposes; (b) The nature of the copyrighted work; (c) The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and (d) The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.”

The second sentence clarifies and limits what the first sentence says.

Let us take a simple hypothetical example. Let us say that I am a 7-foot professional basketball player who is not known to be bright and I write a sonnet. Let us say that a reporter, without telling or asking me, now writes, as a news item, that I have written a sonnet and he quotes the entire sonnet. (It would be news, because people think that I am incapable of serious thought.) The reporter, of course, mentions my name and does not claim the sonnet to be his own creation, so this is not a case of plagiarism.

This is, however, a case of copyright infringement. I would be unable to sell my sonnet to a magazine, which would have paid me a handsome fee for it, not as handsome as the fee I receive as a professional basketball player, but money anyway.

Is the reporter’s reprinting of my sonnet fair use? No, because it falls under letter D. I lose money because the reporter beats me to the first publication of my beautiful sonnet.

Similarly, multiple copies for classroom use may not necessarily be fair use. It depends on whether the author or publisher loses money because of the photocopying.

If what is photocopied is an article in a journal, for example, the author and the publisher clearly lose money, because unless the journal is open access, the article would have earned anywhere from $10 to $30 per copy according to current pay-per-view rates. If there are 40 students in a class, the author and publisher lose at least 40 times $10 or $400. Making multiple copies of a journal article, therefore, may mean a substantial loss of income for the author and the publisher.

The teacher who made the photocopies is, therefore, guilty of the crime of copyright infringement and, simply put, a criminal.

Having students go to a copying machine to make the photocopies does not absolve the teacher of the crime. The teacher is still the mastermind of the crime, even if he or she is not the one actually getting the prohibited act done.

So you know where I am coming from, I chair the Filipinas Copyright Licensing Society (FILCOLS), which licenses schools and other groups to photocopy copyrighted material.

FILCOLS is a not for profit, non-government organization mandated by authors, publishers, and other rightsholders to enforce their economic rights and moral rights as defined in RA 8293, Sec. 183. FILCOLS is the recognized national reproduction rights organization (RRO) of the Philippines, operating under a Voluntary Collective Licensing Model. FILCOLS is a member of the International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organizations (IFRRO).

Our work is simple: someone who photocopies or digitally reproduces copyrighted material pays us a fee; we then send the fee (minus our administrative expenses) to whoever owns the copyright, whether here or abroad. Foreign RROS do the same thing; when schools or copying machine owners reproduce Philippine material, they collect the fees and send the fees to FILCOLS. FILCOLS then distributes the fees to copyright owners living in the Philippines.

Teachers, there is no reason to remain criminals. Just have your school register with FILCOLS and your photocopying becomes legal.

Sam Miguel
03-27-2013, 09:35 AM
Study now, pay later

By Michael L. Tan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:59 pm | Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Last Wednesday in my column responding to the suicide of the UP Manila student, I wrote that the government should seriously consider an educational loan system, one which will allow repayment after the student has graduated.

When I was writing that I did have memories of some kind of “study now, pay later” program from years back, but because I was rushing the piece, I didn’t have time to research. After my column came out in the Internet Jao Romero posted a comment recalling such a program, but the problem was, he said, there were many people who didn’t bother to pay back, “so the foundation collapsed.” His mentioning a foundation suggests it wasn’t a government program. Nimrod Suarez also wrote that “UV has a study now, pay later program” from which many have benefited and which is still going strong. I presume this is the University of the Visayas.

“Parengtony” wrote about US President Barack Obama’s educational loan program, which allows students to pay back loans starting six months after graduation. Monthly payments should not exceed a certain percentage of the graduate’s monthly salary, and loans may be “forgiven” after a number of years.

SSS, GSIS loans

All those comments got me to look into the Internet, and I did find that both the Social Security System and the Government Service Insurance System offer educational loans. They’re very restricted but they’re still options, so let me describe them in broad strokes. There’s a website from where you can download the application forms, wonderfully brief but still in English, and with some vague language that may intimidate applicants, so I suggest that Inquirer readers offer to help out poorer relatives or friends.

The SSS loan is, as usual, better than that of the GSIS. You may borrow up to P15,000 for a degree course and up to P7,500 for a technical/vocational course. Half of the loan amount is covered by the national government and the other half by the SSS, with 6-percent annual interest. The requirement on the beginning of the repayment time is a bit bizarre: 18 months after the loan for schools using semesters, 15 months for trimesters, and 14 months and 15 days for quarters.

A major limitation is you may borrow only once. The eligibility conditions are quite wide, though, so I can imagine different members of a family coming in to help. You may borrow if you yourself are an SSS member, or an SSS member may borrow on behalf of any of the following (hold your breath now): “legal spouse, child (including illegitimate), the sibling of unmarried SSS member (including half-brother/sister).” I just have to comment, with a smile: Except for the “legal spouse” provision, I think this is one of the most socially progressive government documents I’ve ever seen for the Philippines.

As with other SSS loans, you are eligible only if you’ve made at least 36 monthly contributions, three of which were in the last 12 months. Your last posted monthly salary credit should be P15,000 or less, and you should be up to date with other SSS salary/housing loans.

The SSS educational loan form may be downloaded from: www.sss.gov.ph/sss/uploaded_images/forms/normal/Educ_Loan_App_Form_060112.pdf. Note that after you access it on the Internet, you still have to download it, clicking on an arrow icon on the upper right hand corner of the Adobe Acrobat form.

Let’s get to the GSIS educational loan. This one was launched only last year and was supposed to have ended on Dec. 28, 2012. I could not find information on the Internet if this has been extended, but I hope it continues to be available. I also found an announcement posted last week on the website about a new scholarship program for 2013-2014, for tuition up to P20,000 and a monthly stipend of P2,000.

The GSIS loan is available to “all active members regardless of salary, length of service and status of the agency and member accounts” but there is no information on the beneficiaries. You may borrow up to P4,000, payable over five years at 6-percent interest per year. The GSIS gives the actual repayment scheme: P20 per month (you read right, P20) for 59 months, and a grand amount of P4,020 on the 60th month.

Here’s where you can download the GSIS form: www.gsis.gov.ph/default.php?id=274.


The SSS and GSIS educational plans look more like emergency loans. It’s better than nothing, but we still need a stronger loan program that can put students through school. There is, certainly, the risk of defaulting on (or escaping from) repaying the loan, but unless the government wants to provide education for free, it has to come up with options for those who want to go to college but lack the financial resources to do so.

Another alternative is a work/study program, but the ones that do exist are extremely limited. UP has student assistantships for undergraduates that offer a maximum of P2,000 a month and graduate assistantships that go up to P4,000 a month. But the numbers are very limited—usually one student assistant and one graduate assistant per department. What happens then is that students have to look for outside work, ranging from very low-paying jobs in sales or as food attendants, to the more lucrative call centers where they sometimes earn more than their college instructors.

Whatever the program may be—government or private, institutional or individual—assistance should always include counseling for the beneficiaries, checking on how they’re doing academically, and more. From personal experience, I do worry about accountability. I have had scholars who whine about their limited funds even as I spot them toting a new imitation designer backpack, or two cell phones. The students need to be taught budgeting, and to take certain responsibilities: I require mine to enroll in SSS and PhilHealth and to pay the premiums out of their stipends. Once they avail themselves of benefits, they realize how small the premiums are, and that those trips to the SSS and PhilHealth offices are well worth the time.

One reader from the United States who offered scholarships had a requirement in addition to a minimum grade point average for those she would support: They should not have boyfriends or girlfriends during the scholarship. I know it may sound extreme, but I can see where she’s coming from, knowing how many students waste their scholarships because of an unintended pregnancy, having to stop school and, often, never resuming their studies.

Scholars and loan beneficiaries have to understand they benefit at the cost of others who may be as deserving, if not more so.

I have had disappointments with scholars but I have also seen behavior that can only be described as heroic—scholars who manage to stretch their stipends to help other members of their family. I have scholars, too, who keep in touch years after their graduation, a few now raising their own families and yet managing to set aside money to help nonrelatives through school. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the best “study now, pay later” scheme one can have.

* * *

Sam Miguel
03-27-2013, 09:38 AM
Science and K+12


1:54 am | Monday, February 6th, 2012

Several days ago, Education Secretary Armin Luistro was reported to have announced that Science would be dropped from the subjects being taught at the Grade 1 level. This decision of the Department of Education is based on the design of the K+12 curriculum and the department’s efforts to decongest the Basic Education curriculum. Instead of Science, the Grade 1 curriculum will focus on “oral fluency” and include learning areas on the Mother Tongue, Filipino, Edukasyon sa Pagpapakatao, Mapeh (Music, Art, Physical Education and Health), Mathematics, Araling Panlipunan (Social Studies) and English. Science will be introduced as a subject only at Grade 3.

This move to limit the contact hours for Science is worrisome, especially since the purported target of the shift to 12 years of basic education curriculum is to improve students’ competencies in English, Math and Science and prepare them for college. One reason often cited for moving into the K+12 setup is that the increased number of years will keep the curriculum relatively light and thus make learning more enjoyable for young learners. This move to delay the introduction to science in the curriculum seems to be too much for some.

In a related move, the DepEd will be providing financial subsidy to about half of our special science high schools to improve teachers’ competencies and mentoring in Science. Instead of introducing scientific thinking early on, the department would rather put its money in improving scientific teaching at later stages in order to compensate.

The premium for students now is on learning and speaking well in English, for example, rather than building the student’s analytical skills to deal with his natural (and social) world. This choice is usually driven by the government’s perceived need to join the globalization bandwagon, such as its drive to cash in on the business process outsourcing (BPO) boom (or bust, as US President Barack Obama had said). Fluency in English is a must for many of us from the Third World, since most industries here are owned or run by foreign firms. Even in local employment, English is usually one important criteria required from applicants.

We also teach science in English. Most textbooks in the Third World are English imports that contain cultural examples that make sense only in the United States or in the United Kingdom. We need to translate these textbooks to teach science in the local language in order that more students appreciate the subject matter.

Yet maybe the real problem lies in how we teach and appreciate science and mathematics in the country. It seems that for some, science has become a chore of memorization of facts and numbers, accompanied with little or no processing at all. It does little help to know who Alexander Graham Bell is than knowing how the principles behind magnetism and electricity drive the functionality of the telephone.

Learning how to view the world scientifically should be introduced as early as possible. Inquiry-based methods, wherein teachers guide their students in investigating the world, can be designed to be both useful and enjoyable to young students. We need this kind of analytical tack for our students on top of their other competencies as we use science, not only in the production of goods, but in many aspects of everyday life. This type of science teaching should be taught at all levels, if possible.

We see the K+12 retooling of the curriculum as a move geared toward satisfying the demands of the globalized market rather than as a shift meant to really improve the local pool of educated youth that will drive local industries. Since it is the target of the government to rely more on BPO and investments rather than on domestic industrialization to improve our economy, this K+12 retooling distorts the preparation of our students to become science-competent into just science-“familiar.”

The recent pronouncement by Obama to pass legislation to bring outsourcing jobs back to the United States shows how vulnerable this strategy is. The Philippine government has budgeted at least P575 million in subsidies for private and foreign BPO investors consisting of training, curriculum and teacher development, career marketing and scholarships through the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) and the Commission on Higher Education. We agree with the think-tank Ibon Foundation that these funds will be more productively spent supporting Philippine industry, science and technology, rather than a sector that is such a small part of the economy and by its nature does not give much value.

Developing a domestic industry starts with a correct track in education. Science is not just the facts and figures we have in the textbooks. It is the observational and analytical skills that we gain in these science subjects that make us act and think “scientific” in our lives.

Dr. Giovanni Tapang is a physicist and chair of the Agham-Advocates of Science and Technology for the People.

Sam Miguel
03-27-2013, 09:41 AM
Pioneering K-12

By Edilberto C. de Jesus

Philippine Daily Inquirer

8:46 pm | Friday, April 13th, 2012

Public elementary schools would have closed down their classrooms by this time and released for the summer break the roughly 13.2 million pupils who had enrolled for the 2011-2012 school year. About 1.86 million of these pupils obtained their elementary school diplomas. Perhaps, 1.25 million, or about two-thirds of this cohort, will proceed to high school in June. Following the Department of Education’s plan, these pupils will be the first to have the opportunity to complete the K-12 Basic Education System.

Some quarters still oppose K-12, the flagship education program of the Aquino administration. The objections vary. There are those who want a miracle cure that will by itself instantly heal all of the ailments afflicting basic education. They demand proof that K-12 will reduce the classroom shortage, improve teacher quality and raise learning outcome among students. This, despite the repeated assurance of the education secretary, Br. Armin Luistro FSC, that K-12 is only one in the DepEd’s 10-point basic education reform agenda.

Others criticize the government’s haste in implementing the program. Many have forgotten that the Philippines already had an 11-year basic education cycle during the American colonial period. But the Commonwealth government, believing 11 years of pre-university studies inadequate, decided to reduce elementary education to six years, which was done, and to add two years to high school, which was not. We have been waiting over 75 years to extend the basic education cycle beyond what we had in the 1930s.

In the meantime, the rest of the world has implemented the K-12 system. Do we need to do more research to follow suit? The entire world, of course, can be completely wrong about K-12. But we are not determining the “truth” of K-12 as a physical law or philosophical principle that must have universal application. We are considering the advantages and efficacy of a practical system that involves trade-offs and will be better managed by some groups rather than others.

A number of our ambassadors have expressed concern that our 10-year basic education cycle will work against the interests of Filipino workers seeking employment abroad. Perhaps, these countries are building non-tariff barriers against our export of labor. But when all the vehicles in the road are moving in one direction, prudence would seem to dictate that we do not insist on driving against the traffic.

What is also difficult to comprehend is the complaint that K-12 is an elitist measure to align our system to those of developed countries and make it easier for wealthy students to gain admission to their schools. These students will indeed benefit from the program. But even developing countries have invested in additional years of basic education. In the Philippines, the best private schools require 11 years of basic education, against the 10 years in public schools. K-12 will help level the playing field for those who cannot afford the elite schools.

With two additional years at Senior High School (SHS) or Grades 11 and 12, students going to Philippine schools will begin college better prepared to handle tertiary-level materials. If colleges and universities do the right thing, they may be able to complete most college courses in a shorter period of time and, therefore, at a lower cost.

According to DepEd data from 2001 to 2010, only 68 percent of the pupils who enroll in a Grade 1 public primary school continue on to high school and only 51 percent receive their secondary school diploma. A 2005 DepEd survey indicated that only 56 percent of graduating high school students were planning on pursuing a college education. Only about 29 percent, therefore, would benefit from the SHS pre-college courses.

Fortunately, the DepEd plans for the SHS program include more than just the preparatory academic courses for college-bound students. It will also offer options for those with the talent for sports and the arts, as well as a technical-vocational track for those who want to compete in the labor market after K-12. The government-funded SHS will help the 22 percent of high school graduates who lack the financial means, or the ability or the interest in academic subjects to acquire additional skills for the world of work.

The SHS Program may also help keep in school the 17 percent of the Grade 1 cohort who drop out or fail the high school academic requirements. Between 2008 and 2009, according to the USAID Philippine Education Sector Assessment Project, secondary school enrollment dropped by only 5.7 percent, but this still numbered nearly 315,000 students. About 66 percent of the dropouts were among the male students who may be disposed to trade off pre-college physics and algebra for the technical-vocational track.

Those concerned with the competitiveness of the country’s human resources, with the effectiveness of its higher education system, and with issues of equity and inclusive development should support the K-12 program.

Edilberto C. de Jesus is president of the Asian Institute of Management.

Sam Miguel
03-27-2013, 09:44 AM
K-12, MTB-MLE and FSL: education game-changers

By Ricardo Ma. Duran Nolasco

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:13 pm | Friday, November 2nd, 2012

I CANNOT understand why the Department of Education in its media releases about the K-12 bill exclusively harps on the end goal of adding a couple of years to basic education. As I have always held, it is the NEW curriculum with mastery thereof as its focus that makes K-12 a compelling necessity for our country.

These changes in curricular content and focus emanate from the bill’s intention to do away with the bilingual policy and to affirm mother tongue-based multilingual education (MTB-MLE). The bill provides that for kindergarten and from Grades 1-3, the regional or native language of the learners shall be used for instruction, teaching materials and testing. From Grades 4-6, there shall be a language transition plan so that Filipino and English are gradually introduced until these languages can become the primary modes of instruction in high school.

The transition plan addresses a critical flaw in DepEd Order No. 16, which limits L1 use up to Grade 3 only. Research has shown that “short exit” schemes lead to the same disastrous academic results as complete immersion in a second language (L2) that learners cannot speak.

The other laudable provisions of the bill are:

1. The science subject will now be introduced in Grade 1, instead of in Grade 3. This subject will also be taught in the L1 of the learners, and not in English. In the past, some people had this silly notion that by integrating science into the language subject, pupils will learn English. A legacy of the old bilingual policy, this idea has been repeatedly disproven by the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study that found students had higher achievement when the home language and language of testing were one and the same.

2. The basic curriculum shall be adapted locally to the language and culture of Filipino learners, including community values, to aid teachers in planning their lessons. This principle hews closely to DepEd’s newly formulated policy framework for indigenous peoples which integrates indigenous knowledge systems and practices in all learning areas and processes.

3. The production and development of locally produced teaching materials shall be encouraged and approval of these materials shall devolve to the regional and division education units. Big books, primers and other teaching aids in the local languages are continuously being developed by teachers, but production is hampered by the long and tedious process of evaluation and approval from imperial Manila.

4. Finally, Filipino Sign Language (FSL) is now recognized as the learning medium in educating the deaf. This proposal actually reiterates a DepEd Special Education (SPED) policy way back in 1997. If finally carried out in practice, this will make education in our country inclusive to a sizable community whose learning rights have long been trampled upon by the dominant hearing population.

Meanwhile, there is another measure, sponsored by Rep. Antonio Tinio, which proposes to declare FSL as the national language of the Filipino deaf and to mandate its use in schools, the courts, broadcast media, government offices and the workplace. To support the bill’s passage and counteract proponents of Signing Exact English (SEE), the Philippine Federation of the Deaf is organizing a march-rally on Nov. 5 at 8:30 a.m. from the Philcoa area to the Batasan complex.

In a letter to the House committee on social services, Education Secretary Armin Luistro stated that although DepEd was supportive of FSL, he was asking for two things: that FSL be clearly defined, and that “the period of initial and full implementation of FSL in deaf education” be delineated.

He said most of the DepEd teachers of deaf children were trained using American Sign Language (ASL), and the period of transition would allow DepEd “to retrain and retool its teachers in FSL, revisit and reproduce its learning materials, and develop FSL curriculum according to each area or region.”

The DepEd stand has been denounced by the Philippine Deaf Resource Center (PDRC) as reflective of the serious blind-spot and attitudinal resistance afflicting the agency. The PDRC points out that FSL has been documented linguistically for a decade and that it is the decision-making bureaucrats that need to be retrained and retooled with the existing research on deaf education. The PDRC also suggests an affirmative action mechanism whereby deaf teacher education graduates can enter into the public school system without passing the LET.

As Diane Dekker of SIL said, it takes time for teachers and administrators alike to imbibe a totally new approach to education, like MTB-MLE and FSL. Here is the one major weakness of the K-12 program that critics have pointed out, and which I am in complete agreement with. DepEd should have factored in enough time for some kind of refinement process, say three years, before it can build enough capacity and resources to fully implement its flagship programs. The provision for such a period of preparation and the roadmap to get to where we are going should have been expressly written into the K-12 bill.

Ricardo Ma. Duran Nolasco, PhD (rnolasco_upmin@yahoo.com), is an associate professor in linguistics at the University of the Philippines in Diliman.

03-29-2013, 10:47 AM
Budget cut for state schools not final – DBM

By Aurea Calica

(The Philippine Star) | Updated March 27, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The P900-million cut in the budget of state universities and colleges (SUCs) next year based on the indicative budget ceilings set by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is not yet final.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said budget ceilings are tentative and subject to further discussions with concerned departments and agencies.

“These pronouncements on the 2014 budget for SUCs are premature, not to mention misleading to the public. The indicative budget ceilings are by no means final and inflexible. They serve only as guideposts for departments in the formulation of their budgets, and may even be subject to increases, depending on an agency’s requirements,” Abad said.

SUCs will suffer a reduction, from P32.8 billion this year to P31.9 billion next year, based on the budget ceiling set by the DBM.

Several sectors are calling for higher funding for SUCs following the death of University of the Philippines student Kristel Tejada, who committed suicide for reportedly failing to pay her tuition.

Abad, however, noted that while the budget ceiling for SUCs was set at P30.2 billion this year, the approved budget amounted to P34.9 billion.

He said indicative budget ceilings are based on a department’s budgetary requirements for its current operations and ongoing programs on the presumption that it will continue without need for more funding support next year.

“The budget ceiling may also be lower than the final budget since we haven’t accounted for an agency’s proposed programs and projects for the following year,” he said.

Amid the controversy over funding support for SUCs, Abad urged the public to seek clarification on the budget preparation from the DBM itself.

“We in the DBM maintain full transparency, accountability, and openness in the public expenditure process. We’ve made it much easier for the ordinary Filipino to engage us in dialogue, and we invite the public to contact us if anything is unclear about the budget preparation process,” he said.

He said the public and the DBM should be partners “in the responsible interpretation of budget figures to avert inaccuracies and misinformation.”

‘Give more to SUCs’

As this developed, Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, chairman of the House committee on technical and higher education, said the suicide of Tejada “dramatizes the need to give more, not less, support to the SUCs.”

The lawmaker noted that SUCs are “the go-to schools” of many high school graduates from the provinces. He said even second-tier or those classified by the Commission on Higher Education as developing SUCs, have acceptance rates of 60 to 50 percent.

Angara said the DBM should ensure that the budget for education has a “certain degree of flexibility and dynamism.”

He said education is the “highest investment priority of the state,” adding that the budget for education and health are the “most cost-efficient investments from the state.”

Meanwhile, Ang Kasangga party-list Rep. Teodorico Haresco Jr. said private firms, especially banks, should help poor students through scholarships or loans.

Haresco, vice chairman of the House committee on small business and entrepreneurship development, said students should be provided loans to fully or partially pay their tuition, with low interest and long-term repayment schedule.

“It’s even possible for the loaning institution to engage the student borrower for practicum, part-time work, or full employment to ‘work off’ their arrears after graduation,” he said.

Haresco earlier filed House Resolution 2262 calling on appropriate House committees to conduct an inquiry into planned tuition increase. He said the probe should include a scrutiny into “unregulated” increases of other school fees. – With Paolo Romero

03-29-2013, 10:48 AM
DBM’s claim of SUC budget hike misleading – Casiño

By Jess Diaz

(The Philippine Star) | Updated March 28, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The claim of Budget Secretary Florencio Abad that state universities and colleges (SUCs) received a 44-percent budget increase this year is “misleading,” Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teddy Casiño said yesterday.

He said Abad’s statement that the 110 SUCs spread throughout the country have combined funding allocations of P37.1 billion for 2013 is not exactly accurate.

“Of the P37.1 billion approved (by Congress and provided in the 2013 appropriations law), only P32.8 billion is accessible to the SUCs since the remainder is for retirement and life insurance premiums, and miscellaneous personnel benefits, both of which are allocated separately,” he said.

Casiño, who participates actively in budget deliberations, confirmed a report in The STAR that funding for SUCs will go down next year by about P900 million based on budget ceilings set by Abad himself for various departments and other agencies.

“In fact, the combined SUCs’ budget for next year, according to Secretary Abad’s National Budget Memorandum No. 116, will go down to P31.9 billion, compared to P32.8 billion approved for this year,” he said.

Clarifying The STAR’s story on the SUCs’ budget cut planned for 2014, the budget secretary said the figures in his own memorandum were “premature and misleading,” were not “inflexible” and could be adjusted up or down depending on the agency’s requirements.

Casiño said state schools actually requested for P54 billion this year, but this was reduced to P32.8 billion.

Out of the P32.8 billion, the University of the Philippines (UP) gets nearly a third, or P9.529 billion.

In contrast, the poor man’s school, Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), which has a lot more students than UP, is allocated less than a 10th of UP’s budget. PUP has P916.8 million for this year.

The 2013 UP budget jumped by P3.8 billion from last year’s level, while PUP’s outlay went up by P182 million from P734.8 million in 2012.

The recent death of UP Manila freshman Kristel Tejada, who committed suicide last March 15 in Tondo, Manila, reportedly for failing to pay her tuition, has prompted various sectors to call for more funds for SUCs.

It also highlighted the practice of schools to bar students from taking examinations unless their tuition and other fees are fully paid.

03-29-2013, 10:49 AM
CHED to spend P8 M for Study Now, Pay Later program

By Helen Flores

(The Philippine Star) | Updated March 28, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) is spending P8 million for its Study Now Pay Later program this coming school year.

Isabel Inlayo, director of CHED’s Office of Student Services, said this year’s student loan program covers 538 beneficiaries nationwide.

The program provides financial assistance to deserving students in private higher education institutions.

Inlayo said CHED provides an average loan of P60,000 to each qualified student per year.

At least 16, 907 students have benefited from the program since it was launched in 1999.

However, Inlayo said only P26.8 million or 12.36 percent of the P217-million loan facility was paid as of last December.

Inlayo said the low repayment rate was due to the lack of trained personnel to undertake collections, inability of beneficiaries to immediately find employment and low salaries of employed beneficiaries.

“We need to regulate because of the limited funds,” Inlayo said.

Under the Study Now Pay Later program, poor but deserving students are granted loans for payment of tuition and other school fees as well as expenses on books and board and lodging.

The beneficiaries are supposed to pay the loan two years after securing employment at 6 percent annual interest.

Inlayo said CHED is pushing for the immediate passage of the Unified Financial Assistance System for Higher and Technical Education bill to address the low repayment rate.

She said the bill, which was passed on second reading last year, will “rationalize all the publicly-funded student assistance.”

03-29-2013, 10:50 AM
CHED to school execs: Exercise maximum tolerance for poor students

By Helen Flores

(The Philippine Star) | Updated March 27, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - School administrators should exercise maximum tolerance in dealing with students who cannot pay their tuition, Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chair Patricia Licuanan said yesterday.

Licuanan said she also supports the lifting of the “no late payment” policy at the University of the Philippines.

“I think that is a good policy. I really feel that for state institutions, including UP, I don’t think a student has to drop out just because of finances. You may have to because of performance, etc. but certainly not for financial reasons,” Licuanan said.

“If there is a sudden change in family circumstances, the school has to be very sympathetic. I came from a private school. I feel that there should be maximum tolerance that speaks for more scholarships, more resources available to assist students,” said Licuanan, former president of Miriam College in Quezon City.

UP president Alfredo Pascual lifted the “no late payment” policy at UP last March 20. However, student activists are calling for the scrapping of the university’s Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP).

Asked whether she is in favor of implementing the STFAP in other state universities as well as in private institutions, Licuanan said schools must first conduct a profiling of their students.

She said the indicators being used under the STFAP must also be reviewed.

“Even in state systems we are taking in students from rich families and that is certainly true in UP now. Why do they have to be subsidized to the same tune as everybody else or those who are poorer?” Licuanan said.

“Right now I buy the concept that those who have more should pay more,” she added.

The death of UP Manila student Kristel Tejada, who committed suicide allegedly for failing to pay her tuition, has prompted several sectors to call for more funds for state schools.

But based on the indicative budget ceilings set by the Department of Budget and Management for state agencies, funding for state universities and colleges will be reduced from P32.8 billion this year to P31.9 billion next year.

Sam Miguel
04-03-2013, 08:06 AM
Grandma, 80, gets college diploma

By Eva Visperas

(The Philippine Star) | Updated April 3, 2013 - 12:00am

DAGUPAN CITY, Philippines — You’re never too old to pursue your dream.

Paciencia Pacibe Tamayo, at age 80, graduated from college last Monday, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Education. The new teacher majored in Technology and Livelihood Education.

The widowed grandmother of 19 grandchildren and four great grandchildren was offered a job to teach at the barangay day care center but declined because of her age.

“It’s enough that I achieved my dream,” she said.

Tamayo, a resident of Maramba Boulevard, Lingayen, Pangasinan, marched with 3,203 other graduates of the Pangasinan State University (PSU) during their commencement exercises last Monday.

She told The STAR she is happy and fulfilled now that she finally has a college diploma.

“This is really my dream,” she said.

Tamayo said she decided to go back to school five years ago after her husband died.

She stopped for one semester because her children were afraid she might not be able to take the rigors of studying, she added.

Tamayo said upon the prodding of a relative, she pursued a college degree at the PSU through the Expanded Tertiary Education Equivalency and Accreditation Program.

“I was never ashamed to go back to school,” she said. “I don’t care. It’s my dream. It’s my money I spent for my schooling with the help of my children.”

Tamayo said Mathematics gave her headaches, but that her highest grade was 1.5 in Humanities.

Whenever she got low grades, she would cry and would ask her professors what she must do, she added.

Tamayo’s daughter, Edna Tamayo-Tomelden, who works at the Commission on Audit in the Cordillera Administrative Region, said she and her siblings were initially hesitant to allow their mother to go back to school.

“We are very proud of her because she finally achieved her ultimate dream to have a college diploma,” she said.

Sam Miguel
04-05-2013, 08:41 AM

By Michael L. Tan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:46 pm | Thursday, April 4th, 2013

For students and parents, the release of grades and report cards can be a major cause of anxiety and dread. There may be an added dimension of confusion this year, with a new grading system in public schools for grades 1 to 7 where the ratings are “A,” “AP,” “D” and “B.”

I’ll explain those ratings in a while. Let me first talk about how grading is so terribly stressful as well to teachers. It means going through endless exams, term papers and essays, and computing grades. When you’re handling several hundred students in a semester, which is the norm for many faculty in the Philippines, it all becomes a mechanical exercise. I was reminded of how the grading process can become a meaningless and tedious chore when, last year, I saw the report card of a student who had just finished high school: All her grades were 76, and when I asked how that happened she said most of her classmates got similar patterns of grades. Only the best students, she said, had different grades for different subjects.

I got the picture. Here were overworked and harassed teachers who just needed to promote students en masse. It doesn’t just happen in public schools. I’ve seen similar patterns in private schools, or worse cases such as professors notorious for their “either/or” policy: Students get a 1 (highest) or 5 (failing), and those are the lucky ones. Less fortunate creatures sometimes end up with professors who believe no student is bright enough to ever get a grade higher than a 3, that applying to a small minority of the class. All the rest get a 5.

Parents and students are getting wind of these patterns, and administrators are pressed to respond to the complaints. I tend to empathize with the parents because even as a student, when “terror professors” were the norm, I felt that a class where most grades are limited to the lowest passing and failing marks was telling us something was wrong, not so much with the students as with the teacher.


What we see is a kind of grading fetish, often involving power play, with haggling and negotiations, and sometimes even corruption.

It all goes back to grading systems we borrowed from the West, the oldest being those based on numerical grades going from 1 to 100, with 75 as passing. That grading system was artificial, leading parents, teachers and students into competitions, arguing over the difference between a 98 and a 97.

Others used a simpler system of A, B, C and the dreaded D and F. Some schools transformed those letters into numbers, 4 equivalent to an A, 3 to a B, 2 for a C, 1 for a D. At our state universities and colleges, and UP, we do the reverse, 1 being the highest, with increments of .25 (1.25, 1.5) down to a 3 for passing, a 4 for conditional and a 5 for failing.

Younger teachers tend to get fixated on the computation of grades, sometimes with elaborate systems with points for recitations, short quizzes, term papers, midterm exams, final exams.

Lost in the calculations are the basic questions: What do the grades evaluate? Is it mastery of the subject matter? Is it the ability to regurgitate memorized materials for exams? Is it the ability to figure out a teacher’s “kiliti,” including attention to the most trivial of information?

Many years back as an undergraduate student in the United States, I was first exposed to “curving.” Instead of having a fixed equivalent—for example, numerical grades of 95 and above being equivalent to an “A”—professors had grades computed in terms of statistics and distribution over a curve, meaning students were evaluated in relation to each other’s performance. This meant that even if a subject was very difficult, there would still be students getting the highest possible mark simply because they were the best performing in class—and, conversely, there would be students who would fail because they were at the tail end of the class.

A growing number of local and foreign schools are now overhauling grades and grading systems to better reflect the learning process. In my son’s grade school, the ratings are E for Excellent, VG for Very Good, G for Good, S for Satisfactory. Then there’s D for Developing and NI for Needs Improvement. Notice how they’re avoiding the term “fail.”

That rating system is similar to the Department of Education’s new grading system for grades 1 to 7: A for Advanced (90 percent and above), P for Proficient (85-89 percent), AP for Approaching Proficiency (80-84 percent), D for Developing (75-79 percent), and B for Beginning (74 percent and below).

The discussions on these grading systems came about when educators from different countries discovered the very significant differences in “learning cultures.” Studies of Chinese and Japanese learning cultures, including home and school environments, showed sharp differences from the western model. The work of psychologist Jim Stigler and his colleagues noted that in American schools, teachers tended to call on the best performing students for recitation, and to praise them for being “bright.” In Japanese schools, teachers would call a student who was not doing as well, but as the student recited or did work on the blackboard, the teacher would ask the rest of the class to evaluate the student and to help out. When the student finally got it right, the class would applaud.

Cultural differences

A new book just published, “Cultural Foundations of Learning: East and West” by Li Jen, notes that in the Chinese system, diligence and effort are emphasized: “Good” students are praised for having worked so hard, and others are chided for not working hard enough. I saw this in my own school here in the Philippines, which mainly had ethnic Chinese students, where the highest award is not for the valedictorian or salutatorian but a “diligence medal.”

“Western” and “Eastern” labels are, of course, deceptive, with differences, too, between Chinese and Japanese classrooms, and between, say, American and Canadian, or German and French classrooms. But the generic descriptions above still give us food for thought, mainly on how we may want to combine the best of different models.

In the new grading systems, weight is given to effort. In my son’s school, even if a student had very low grades during the first half of the semester, an improvement over time can mean a final passing mark.

I’ve found myself applying similar principles of teaching and learning in my university classes, encouraging students to do both individual and group work, and giving extra exercises for those who want to improve their grade, credit being given for the extra effort. I even find myself praising students—“Good job!”—and then laughing out loud and apologizing if the students felt like they were back in preschool.

I’m also constantly evaluating what “mastery” means, moving away from memorization of definitions and emphasizing instead the ability of students to apply what they are learning to the real world. Even medical schools are taking up the challenge, still giving multiple-choice exams for topics like anatomy and physiology, but also allowing more essays and case studies. I don’t think we’re going to see NI (needs improvement) grades in universities, but in the years to come, expect more changes in the way students are evaluated.

* * *

Sam Miguel
04-05-2013, 08:49 AM
College subsidy for whom, for what?

By Jose Ma. Montelibano


9:55 pm | Thursday, March 21st, 2013

It is time to review the program of subsidizing state universities and colleges. Like any government expense, school subsidies must have justification, their objectives clear and desirable, and their results measurable and proportionately beneficial to the common good.

The massive support for public school system from grade school to high school is understandable and necessary. It is not really about education per se because there is no question about the value of education. Rather, it is about giving everyone the chance to access that education, most especially the millions of young Filipinos who are too poor to afford a grade school to high school education.

When it comes to college and post-graduate studies, however, the government must review the reasons why a very small percentage of students will be able to enjoy the benefit of higher education when the rest cannot. The practice of giving scholarships or subsidized education to a few while the great majority have to struggle for the same on their own, or not have it at all, must have substantive advantages to the collective good. That is the only justification why a Filipino college student, as an exception, receives much more from the state over the vast majority who receive nothing. Why is he or she an exception? What does the state want so much that it makes an exception?

What comes across as somewhat obsolete and limiting is to use results of entrance examinations and economic status as bases for subsidized scholarships. This practice is an extension of an old tradition when benefactors choose to support the most deserving who cannot afford a college education. This has less to do with education and more about rewarding talent, or an act of charity. This is about giving a greater opportunity to the most talented over giving a chance to those who need it more. It may be true that the students who were admitted to subsidized state colleges and universities did use their education to better themselves and their families. But everyone deserves to better themselves and their families via higher education if such opportunity could be made available to them as well.

If the principle is charity, then all who want the higher education but cannot afford should have a chance at having one. With charity, those in greater need, all things being equal, should have priority. Those who have more in terms of talents should give way to those who have less and need more support.

If the principle is education more than charity, then the one with greater talent may have priority only because the state, or the collective, benefits more. Because it is the people’s money that is funding an individual’s academic progress, then the people’s needs must be served best by their choice of investment. State-subsidized education must remain focused on what its selection of scholars can do for the state more than what the scholars can do for themselves and their families. Scholars of the state are scholars of the people – their obligation is first to the state and the people, the common good over personal interest.

Because the subsidy through state colleges and universities has been a tradition that had quite colonial purposes and motivation, including charity, the present times demand for a review of the program itself. Is it still necessary to support tens of thousands over tens of millions with the money that belongs to all of them, to all of us? If so, to what end, for whose end? Definitely, the people’s money should demand a payback to the people, or to the state as representative of the people. The service of the scholar who sought and received the support of the people’s money must thereafter have the people as his or her primary beneficiary, even over his or her own interest. That is the only justification why the treasure of the people is invested on a select few – because these select few can best serve the most good to the greatest number.

I think there should be an outcry from the people who do not know how their common good is benefited from the service of those they had given special opportunity to receive what most did not. If we hear more outcry from students over increases of tuition fees, this is justifiable only if students who have been blessed by state subsidies actually have a record of doing their share of the bargain. This is debatable, of course, as there is very little, very, very little information of what the people and the country have gained from all the state-subsidized scholars and students. In contrast, there have been more information how many of these lucky scholars and students from state colleges and universities have helped themselves and their families.

We do not need more scholars, we need more patriots. We need our talented young to become the warriors for the people, not the first to use their state-sponsored development more for themselves and less, if at all, for the people. The most talented among our people, whether they can afford or not, should have other mechanisms to develop their talent further without the help of the state unless the state is able to make that help available to the majority. The companies or industries who will be in need of the more talented may be harnessed to support the most promising of our youth. Or, perhaps, a national, massive educational fund that can support the brightest through college and even post-graduate studies through student loans that will be paid once the graduate is employed.

Government scholars, though, must have a different criteria, a standard that demands service to the people ahead of service to the self or family. The state must help those who are determined to help the common good, who are committed to become models of good citizens.

Sam Miguel
04-08-2013, 03:49 PM
Teacher’s resignation letter: ‘My profession … no longer exists’

Posted by Valerie Strauss on April 6, 2013 at 4:00 am

Increasingly teachers are speaking out against school reforms that they believe are demeaning their profession, and some are simply quitting because they have had enough.

Here is one resignation letter from a veteran teacher, Gerald J. Conti, a social studies teacher at Westhill High School in Syracuse, N.Y.:

Mr. Casey Barduhn, Superintendent
Westhill Central School District
400 Walberta Park Road
Syracuse, New York 13219

Dear Mr. Barduhn and Board of Education Members:

It is with the deepest regret that I must retire at the close of this school year, ending my more than twenty-seven years of service at Westhill on June 30, under the provisions of the 2012-15 contract. I assume that I will be eligible for any local or state incentives that may be offered prior to my date of actual retirement and I trust that I may return to the high school at some point as a substitute teacher.

As with Lincoln and Springfield, I have grown from a young to an old man here; my brother died while we were both employed here; my daughter was educated here, and I have been touched by and hope that I have touched hundreds of lives in my time here. I know that I have been fortunate to work with a small core of some of the finest students and educators on the planet.

I came to teaching forty years ago this month and have been lucky enough to work at a small liberal arts college, a major university and this superior secondary school. To me, history has been so very much more than a mere job, it has truly been my life, always driving my travel, guiding all of my reading and even dictating my television and movie viewing. Rarely have I engaged in any of these activities without an eye to my classroom and what I might employ in a lesson, a lecture or a presentation. With regard to my profession, I have truly attempted to live John Dewey’s famous quotation (now likely cliché with me, I’ve used it so very often) that “Education is not preparation for life, education is life itself.” This type of total immersion is what I have always referred to as teaching “heavy,” working hard, spending time, researching, attending to details and never feeling satisfied that I knew enough on any topic. I now find that this approach to my profession is not only devalued, but denigrated and perhaps, in some quarters despised. STEM rules the day and “data driven” education seeks only conformity, standardization, testing and a zombie-like adherence to the shallow and generic Common Core, along with a lockstep of oversimplified so-called Essential Learnings. Creativity, academic freedom, teacher autonomy, experimentation and innovation are being stifled in a misguided effort to fix what is not broken in our system of public education and particularly not at Westhill.

A long train of failures has brought us to this unfortunate pass. In their pursuit of Federal tax dollars, our legislators have failed us by selling children out to private industries such as Pearson Education. The New York State United Teachers union has let down its membership by failing to mount a much more effective and vigorous campaign against this same costly and dangerous debacle. Finally, it is with sad reluctance that I say our own administration has been both uncommunicative and unresponsive to the concerns and needs of our staff and students by establishing testing and evaluation systems that are Byzantine at best and at worst, draconian. This situation has been exacerbated by other actions of the administration, in either refusing to call open forum meetings to discuss these pressing issues, or by so constraining the time limits of such meetings that little more than a conveying of information could take place. This lack of leadership at every level has only served to produce confusion, a loss of confidence and a dramatic and rapid decaying of morale. The repercussions of these ill-conceived policies will be telling and shall resound to the detriment of education for years to come. The analogy that this process is like building the airplane while we are flying would strike terror in the heart of anyone should it be applied to an actual airplane flight, a medical procedure, or even a home repair. Why should it be acceptable in our careers and in the education of our children?

My profession is being demeaned by a pervasive atmosphere of distrust, dictating that teachers cannot be permitted to develop and administer their own quizzes and tests (now titled as generic “assessments”) or grade their own students’ examinations. The development of plans, choice of lessons and the materials to be employed are increasingly expected to be common to all teachers in a given subject. This approach not only strangles creativity, it smothers the development of critical thinking in our students and assumes a one-size-fits-all mentality more appropriate to the assembly line than to the classroom. Teacher planning time has also now been so greatly eroded by a constant need to “prove up” our worth to the tyranny of APPR (through the submission of plans, materials and “artifacts” from our teaching) that there is little time for us to carefully critique student work, engage in informal intellectual discussions with our students and colleagues, or conduct research and seek personal improvement through independent study. We have become increasingly evaluation and not knowledge driven. Process has become our most important product, to twist a phrase from corporate America, which seems doubly appropriate to this case.

After writing all of this I realize that I am not leaving my profession, in truth, it has left me. It no longer exists. I feel as though I have played some game halfway through its fourth quarter, a timeout has been called, my teammates’ hands have all been tied, the goal posts moved, all previously scored points and honors expunged and all of the rules altered.

For the last decade or so, I have had two signs hanging above the blackboard at the front of my classroom, they read, “Words Matter” and “Ideas Matter”. While I still believe these simple statements to be true, I don’t feel that those currently driving public education have any inkling of what they mean.

Sincerely and with regret,

Gerald J. Conti
Social Studies Department Leader
Cc: Doreen Bronchetti, Lee Roscoe
My little Zu.

Sam Miguel
04-12-2013, 10:49 AM
Valuing and validating teachers

By Rina Jimenez-David

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:55 pm | Thursday, April 11th, 2013

Creating quite a sensation, at least within the circles I move in, is the YouTube appearance of a young woman named Sabrina Ongkiko who spoke at a “TEDx” lecture at Ateneo de Manila.

TEDx is an offshoot of the famous “TED” lectures that bring important, provocative, entertaining and enlightening content to the public through the Internet. And all these are indeed contained in the talk of Sabrina, who spoke of her “return on investment” when she stepped away from a promising career in medicine to become a public school teacher, even if she graduated from a prestigious (and expensive!) private university.

What moved me to tears while watching Sabrina share her experiences at the Culiat Public Elementary School was the value she placed on the oft-denigrated public school system. It was truly moving to listen to her pay tribute to her devoted fellow teachers and the intelligence and doggedness of her students.

I remembered Sabrina recently when I got to meet women who are, in their own way, valuing and validating teachers. On the surface the program they are carrying out is about training in computers. But dig deeper and one will realize that the program is not just about skills but also about people and about building their self-esteem, enabling them to better reach out to their students and hold their heads high as the equals of educators around the world.

* * *

The organizers of the program have decided to call it the “Rachel Arenas Collaborative for Excellence,” after the outgoing representative of the third district of Pangasinan upon whose initiative the program was recently inaugurated at the Daniel Maramba High School in the town of Santa Barbara.

Under the “collaborative,” a total of 105 teachers underwent training for two weeks, eight hours a day, in the heat and congestion of the school gym without any air-conditioning. Each teacher went through a selection process, with her or him committing to replicate the training for 30 other teachers. “In all, a total of 3,675 teachers will end up being trained in computer usage in this first stage of the program,” Arenas points out.

Arenas recalls that in her first term in 2007, she proposed the creation of an “ICT hub” in every province as part of her advocacy as vice chair of the ICT committee. “This is where we’re headed,” she explains when asked why she had set her sights on disseminating computer skills among Filipinos. But, failing to gain substantial support from her colleagues, she decided to “just make it on my own.”

* * *

A few years back, Arenas decided to visit companies and educational institutions in Silicon Valley in the United States to explore ways of collaborating to upgrade and update the ICT skills and competencies of Filipino public school teachers.

This is where she met educators from Foothill College, a community college outside San Francisco with a 16,000 student population that provides education to young people preparing to enter university. It also provides instruction in such fields as health and health technology and, of course, given their location, computer competency and ICT proficiency.

Foothill College president Judy Miner says she felt an “instantaneous connection” with Congresswoman Arenas upon meeting her, struck by her “dynamism and vision.” The thought of launching a two-week training program for public school teachers in Pangasinan, in the Philippines, did not deter the administration of Foothill College. “We belong to the world,” Miner says by way of explaining her team’s decision to bring their curriculum design to help develop the computer competencies of teachers.

Gertrude Gregorio, a Fil-Am educator who recently retired from active teaching at Foothill College, visited Pangasinan to meet the teachers and finalize the design of the program. The culmination of these preparations was the arrival of four trainers and a program director from Foothill College in Pangasinan. (Miner came about a week later to look in on the progress of the training.)

“We were astounded by the depth of commitment of the teachers,” Gregorio says. “None of them was watching the clock.” Indeed, the trainers were initially taken aback when they discovered that there was no Internet access at the Maramba High School. Even Arenas got involved in scrambling to connect with telecom companies to provide Internet access.

* * *

Miner mentions the “sweet spirit” of Filipinos, and not just those she met during the training. She was so impressed by the teachers, she adds, mentioning how she was “choked up” when they presented the videos they created as part of their lessons, and heard one teacher declare proudly: “I can do this because of you and Foothill College.”

Even after the training program, learners and instructors will continue to connect through a website, because, as Miner explains, it’s the combination of face-to-face learning and online instruction that makes for an ideal computer education environment.

Last December, Arenas announced that she was not running for a third term in the House and was instead giving way to her mother, Rosemarie “Baby” Arenas, who is often described as a “socialite” in the media but is actually a formidable combination of businesswoman, civic leader, political organizer and public servant (she served as a board member of Meco, the de facto embassy in Taiwan).

“Everything she (Rachel) has done we will continue,” Baby Arenas promised. Given its good beginnings, and under the stewardship of the new representative (she is running unopposed), the “Rachel Arenas Collaborative for Excellence” cannot but move higher and reach farther to build the skills and the self-confidence of our teachers.

Sam Miguel
04-25-2013, 10:29 AM
College subjects in high school


By Isagani Cruz

(The Philippine Star) | Updated April 25, 2013 - 12:00am

Section 18, called the “Repealing Clause,” of the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013 (the K to 12 Law) reads: “Pertinent provisions of Batas Pambansa Bilang 232 or the Education Act of 1982, Republic Act No. 9155 or the Governance of Basic Education Act of 2011, Republic Act No. 9258, Republic Act No. 7836, and all other laws, decrees, executive orders and rules and regulations contrary to or inconsistent with the provisions of this Act are hereby repealed or modified accordingly.”

What does this provision mean for subjects currently taught in college? Will these subjects now be taught in high school and only in high school?

RA 9258 is the Guidance and Counseling Act of 2004. I am not a lawyer, but I cannot find anything in this law that has been amended by the K to 12 Law. Because I am in the Steering Committee that discussed this provision, however, I know the intent behind mentioning RA 9258.

RA 9258 requires all guidance counselors in schools to be licensed by the Professional Regulation Board of Guidance and Counseling, which is under the Professional Regulation Commission. Right now, there are not enough guidance counselors to service all our schools. Since guidance counseling is crucial to the success of Senior High School, where students have to choose what career track they will follow, we need enough guidance counselors to advise the expected one million students entering Grade 11 in 2016.

DepEd will need unlicensed guidance counselors who may actually have the qualifications listed in Section 14 of RA 9258 (for example, doctoral or masters degree holders, three years of experience teaching, 18 graduate units of Guidance and Counseling) but missed the two-year grace period ending 2006 (the grandfather clause). Perhaps the DepEd lawyers can figure out how to use Section 18 of the K to 12 Law to justify hiring such counselors.

RA 7836, known as the “Philippine Teachers Professionalization Act of 1994,” amended by RA 9293, has a provision that reads: “No person shall engage in teaching and/or act as a professional teacher as defined in this Act whether in the preschool, elementary or secondary level, unless the person is a duly registered professional teacher, and a holder of a valid certificate of registration and a valid professional license or a holder of a valid special/temporary permit.” This is the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET) requirement to teach in basic education.

This particular provision has clearly been amended by the K to 12 Law. Section 8 of the new law explicitly allows the Department of Education and private schools to hire non-LET holders to teach part-time. There are specific qualifications, of course, such as having relevant undergraduate degrees; those without such degrees have to be approved by appropriate government agencies in addition to DepEd. Full-time teachers still need to pass the LET, although they have a grace period of five years after hiring. Teachers of technical and vocational courses also have to have the appropriate TESDA certifications.

What lawyers will clearly argue about is the rest of the provision. What are the “other laws, decrees, executive orders and rules and regulations contrary to or inconsistent with the provisions” of the K to 12 Law?

Some may argue that this is a blanket amendment of such laws as RA 9163 (the National Service Training Program Act of 2001, which mandates NSTP for all college students), RA 5708 (the Schools Physical Education and Sports Development Act of 1969, which has been interpreted to mean that PE is required in college), RA 1425 (the 1956 Rizal Law, which requires all colleges to teach the Noli and the Fili in the original Spanish or in unexpurgated translations), and various laws and regulations that require undergraduates to study Taxation, Agrarian Reform, Philippine Constitution, Family Planning, and Population Education.

Others may argue, however, that since these laws and regulations have not been mentioned explicitly, they are still in force. I will let the lawyers argue these points.

From an educational standpoint, however, I have to admit that I tend to go for complete academic freedom on the college level and for a little bit more regulation on the basic education level.

I really do not see why a college student who is preparing for a career in, say, astrophysics, and has plans to work in research centers abroad has to spend precious time studying agrarian reform.

On the other hand, I can see why a high school graduate needs to know a little bit about everything, including community service, physical education, Rizal, taxation, agrarian reform, Philippine Constitution, family planning, and population education. Every high school graduate knows a little algebra and statistics, as well as a little poetry and music, no matter what career path he or she will eventually take. Basic education is basic, but higher education should be higher, not merely more of the same.

Sam Miguel
05-02-2013, 09:25 AM
Graduation gifts

By Michael L. Tan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:23 pm | Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Last weekend was a particularly hectic and emotional one for many people, with college recognition rites and general commencement exercises at the University of the Philippines Diliman. I thought I’d share more of the spirit of the weekend with a two-in-one column, first about graduation gifts in terms of legacies and bridging of generations, and second about a different kind of graduation gift I had for an inaapo (explanations later about this term).

Let me start, though, with some information on why the weekend was so special. For the first time in many years, the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy was able to hold our recognition rites on a Saturday morning, which meant many of the faculty, graduating students and their families were awake early, ready to greet the sun.

Appropriately, the general commencement exercises for the entire UP Diliman campus was on Sunday afternoon. By the time the degrees were officially conferred, it was sunset, which was just as well, providing soothing and welcome relief from the afternoon heat.


I got to our recognition rites venue early, making sure I could welcome our keynote speaker, Dr. Francisco (“Dodong”) Nemenzo and his wife, Ana Maria Ronquillo Nemenzo, better known as “Princess” among the ranks of women’s and antipoverty activists.

Besides being a former UP president, Dodong was also the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences back in the 1980s, when the decision was made to split “AS” into three: CSSP, the College of Science, and the College of Arts and Letters (CAL). The split was formalized in 1983, 30 years ago, and our faculty thought it would be appropriate to have Dodong address us on this anniversary.

The choice was fortuitous because among the graduates for the day was Alaya Gabrielle, granddaughter of Dodong and Princess, who got her bachelor’s degree in psychology, magna cum laude. I pointed out the connection between the guest speaker and one of the graduates in my opening remarks, to remind people that graduation rituals are occasions, too, for a bridging of generations, a time to remember, and honor, the legacies of previous generations.

Dodong’s speech drew on his own experiences, with four pieces of simple advice for the graduating students. First, remain a student for life. Second, use your knowledge and skills to humanize the impact of technology, and ensure that technology serves the people, and not merely enhances the profits of a few. Third, in relation to current global developments, hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. Finally, take up the challenge (to reshape the global village). In future columns, I hope to return to other parts of Dodong’s speech.

That morning we had another historic bridging: Amihan Bonifacio Ramolete, who got her PhD in psychology, is the daughter of Dr. Manuel Bonifacio and Dr. Amelia Lapeña Bonifacio, both professor emeriti. Amihan’s father is with our sociology department. Her mother is with the CAL, and also known for her Teatro Mulat, which uses puppetry for education. Amihan carries on the teaching tradition in the family as a faculty member at the CAL.

An unexpected treat for me that morning was running into Dr. Joven Cuanang, chief medical officer of St. Luke’s Medical Center. It turned out that his grandnephew was graduating. When I asked what the name of his grandnephew was, he modestly said: “I think he’s going to speak this morning.” I smiled and asked: “He’s our valedictory speaker, right?” And indeed he was, Joshua Vincent H. Barona, who used doors as a powerful metaphor to talk about transitions in the graduates’ lives.

Joshua Vincent got his bachelor’s degree in psychology summa cum laude, and will be entering medical school in June, together with one of my inaapo, still another graduate of psychology.

Let me explain the term. In other Christian cultures, you only have godparents and godchildren, but in the Philippines, we’ve expanded the system from ninong/ninang and inaanak to new relationships of the kumpare and kumare (co-godparents) and kinakapatid (co-godchildren). So I thought I’d extend it further with an inaapo. Why inaapo? I was her parents’ ninong when they got married.

I’ll give her a pseudonym here, Riza, because she and her parents are terribly modest despite her achievements. Riza graduated magna cum laude, and I’ve lost count of how many medical and law schools accepted her, with offers of scholarships.


My graduation gift to Riza was a cotton blanket, and I’m going to share parts of the note I sent her explaining why a blanket instead of a book (which I’ve done through the years and which I still think makes great graduation gifts), or a tablet, or a ticket to Boracay. The note was in Filipino so I’m translating here into English.

Dear Riza,

This blanket comes from an antiques shop. It’s not really that old, but neither is it new. I can tell from the fine craftsmanship, which you rarely see now with new blankets. I first thought it was an inabel weave from the Ilokos, but it turns out it’s from the Cordillera, from the Itneg, with a binakel design.

You’ll find occasional imperfections in the blanket, but these small flaws make the blanket a heritage item, a potential heirloom. Imagine the rhythm that went into the weaving—the women sometimes sing as they operate their back looms—and the occasional slips, maybe while checking on a child or grandchild, or talking to a visitor. Life’s that way, too, especially in our relationships, imperfectly perfect.

There’s a letter dated 1880 from Jose Rizal to his elder brother asking for, of all things, two pillows. Rizal was studying in Manila at that time. I first thought the letter to be rather odd; now why couldn’t he have bought the pillows in Manila? But then I remembered, there’s always something different about getting things from home, from people dear to you.

Knowing you’re entering medical school, and will be living away from home, I thought of a blanket, sent with all my affection. Blankets are more useful than pillows. Besides protecting you from the cold, they provide security, a sense of safety. In more difficult and trying times, and medical school will have many of those, blankets provide comfort, maybe even consolation. I always have an inabel blanket in my car for the kids and have seen how a blanket can transport them into many imaginary worlds, as they snuggle underneath, singing and giggling and whispering secrets.

I should mention Rizal asked for two pillows—one extra, he said, for visitors. Blankets are always big enough to share, so share as you wish, as often as you can. These woven blankets are sturdy, and yet soften with use, and age. I hope the blanket will be passed on to your children or other loved ones, together with stories from your own life about perseverance and strength, as well as gentleness and nurturing.

All love from Lolo Mike

05-04-2013, 10:11 AM
Inclusive education

By Edilberto C. de Jesus

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:04 pm | Friday, May 3rd, 2013

I have participated in many commencement exercises, and presided over a number of them. None was more memorable or more moving than the graduation I attended three weeks ago at the Apu Palumgawan Cultural Education Center (APC) in Bendum, Bukidnon.

APC is a school established 20 years ago by Pedro Walpole, SJ, for the communities of indigenous peoples (IP) scattered on the Upper Pulangui watershed. The 2013 graduating cohort consisted of 11 students—seven boys and four girls, ages 12 to 16, who had completed their elementary education.

The ceremonies spanned the whole day and served as an occasion for communal celebration. Shortly before noon, the elders started laying out banana leaves on the floor along the length of the long house. The graduates occupied the middle area of the central lane, with their parents behind them. Along with mounds of rice and pancit served on the banana leaves, they received the choice cuts of boiled chicken and pork.

After prayers offered by Datu Nestor Menaling, the parents of the graduates took food in their hands and fed it to their children. The graduates then took food in their hands and placed it in their parents’ mouths. Through this exchange, the community affirmed the process of generational transmission. As the parents had taken care of the children, the children now began to assume the responsibility of caring for their parents.

We were honored guests expected to partake of the feast. The huge plateful of rice heaped on the banana leaf that my daughter and I shared was quite intimidating. Pedro explained the abundance: The guests would wrap up in the banana leaf what they did not finish for the trip home, a walk that would take some travelers 11 hours.

Most guests actually finished the food placed in front of them; we passed on to two men sharing a banana leaf beside us the food we had set aside as beyond our capacity to consume. After breakfast the following morning, APC had to provide additional food to the guests for the homeward trip.

The actual conferment of the “diploma” took place in the afternoon. Each graduate was introduced to the assembly and then went up the stage with their parents. Datu Menaling had to summon the mother or the father who was too shy to mount the stage.

The salutatorian and valedictorian were two 16-year-old girls from outside Bendum. Before APC and the chance for an education, both would likely have married at 14 and already borne at least one child. Datu Menaling had teased the girls about arranging for their marriage. But both had expressed a desire to go to high school in the town of Zamboanguita, a three-hour walk away from Bendum.

I left the graduates to celebrate with their families and friends. I talked instead with a fifth-grader, Enson Suldawan, the 10th of 11 children from a family in Camalangan, Agusan del Sur. Enson did not know the day or year of his birth; he and APC chose June 12, 2002, as his birthday. At 11, by APC reckoning, Enson walked with his 14-year-old brother, Miko, to Bendum where Miko was already studying.

“Walking” does not do justice to the journey. It meant climbing over a mountain, clinging to vines to clamber down a waterfall, and crossing rivers to complete an 11-hour trek. Enson arrived a month late for the school year. Lay administrators felt he had lost too much time to join the class, but Pedro decided that Enson had earned a place among the 20 students boarding at APC.

Enson liked math and could handle Cebuano, but admitted problems with Filipino. APC used Pinulangiyen or Binukid, the indigenous language, as the medium of instruction. I talked to him in Filipino, with his teacher, Maribel Porras, doing Cebuano translation. The children actually study English as well. Enson also enjoyed “Cultural Studies,” where children learned Binukid and the way of life of the Pinulangiyen.

IP children like Enson face daunting odds. Completing APC’s elementary curriculum opens a window of hope. IP education is not just about teaching in the mother tongue. For APC, it is about giving the children a chance to learn their community’s values and traditions.

Children acquire in school numeracy and literacy in Binukid and Cebuano. More important, they develop with these skills an appreciation of who they are, a sense of identity, and a feeling of self-worth. This is, perhaps, what empowers a 16-year-old girl to stand up to the elders and to say she will not marry until she is educated.

No mean achievement, that empowerment is a necessary step toward inclusive development. More IP children need this kind of education. Support from both the government and the private sector will enable APC to do more.

05-04-2013, 10:13 AM
Teachers with a mission

By Butch Hernandez

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:03 pm | Friday, May 3rd, 2013

They woke up early, some as early as 3 a.m., to get on a bus that would take them to the 1st SMP (Service Management Program) Teachers Camp at Asia Pacific College (APC) in Magallanes Village, Makati City.

The first to arrive were teachers from Laguna State Polytechnic University (LSPU) led by the affable Dr. Joel Bawica, dean of the College of Computer Studies.

From its humble beginnings as Baybay Provincial High School in 1952, LSPU is now spread out over four campuses in San Pablo City, Los Baños, Siniloan and Santa Cruz, the main campus. LSPU also has satellite campuses in Nagcarlan and Lopez, and abroad at the Thai Nguyen University in Vietnam and at the Changwon College in South Korea.

The incumbent LSPU president, Dr. Nestor De Vera, personifies the avowed mission of Cavite State University (Cavsu) to “provide quality education through responsive instruction, distinctive research, sustainable extension and production services for improved quality of life towards nation building.”

A few minutes later, the bus from Indang, Cavite, pulled up with instructors and professors from Cavsu’s 11 campuses. Prof. Roderick Rupido, dean of the College of Economics, Management and Development led the Cavsu contingent.

Divina C. Chavez, president of Cavsu, envisions it to be a global university by 2020. Cavsu adheres to its commitment to truth, excellence and service, and aims to be the “premier university in historic Cavite recognized for excellence in the development of globally competitive and morally upright individuals.”

The contingent from Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) led by Dr. Teresita Atienza and Henry Prudente quietly filed into the APC training hall as the teachers from Cavsu were disembarking. Earlier, its vice president for administration, Alberto C. Guillo, personally supervised the formation of a special committee with the deans of the different colleges for this training activity.

With 22 campuses and about 65,000 students, no other higher education institution comes close to PUP. According to its president, Dr. Emanuel C. De Guzman, PUP believes that “meaningful growth and transformation of the country are best achieved in an atmosphere of brotherhood, peace, freedom, justice and a nationalist-oriented education imbued with the spirit of humanist internationalism.”

Organized by the Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (Ibpap) in collaboration with a special courseware development team from the APC and corporate trainers from Aegis People Support, the SMP Teachers Camp is a decidedly rigorous training regimen for the specialization track prescribed by CHEd Memorandum Order 6 and 34, series 2012, of the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd).

SMP is a joint pioneering effort by the national government, the academe and the IT and business process management industry to directly align our college graduates’ competencies with the demands of the modern workplace.

The four SMP learning tracks are fundamentals of the business process management industry (BPO 101 and 102), service culture, business communications, and systems thinking. A fifth track—the basic English skills training and advanced English preemployment training—is technically outside of SMP but has been included to buttress the average college student’s verbal fluency in English.

In his keynote address, Dr. Sinforoso Birung, CHEd standards and programs director, said that even before the training had begun, there were already important lessons learned from the collaboration between the CHEd and Ibpap. He said the industry should present not only the problem but also, more prominently, a clear solution: “Just as important as the presented solution to the mismatch is an element of shared objective, because academe [could be missing] on the core competencies particularly on critical thinking, communication proficiency, team or the ‘we’ spirit, and problem solving.”

He added that trainability and capacity for lifelong learning through developed core competencies are a critical outcome of education.

PUP, Cavsu and LSPU are among 17 state universities and colleges that have been nominated by the CHEd to implement the Service Management Program beginning academic year 2013.

Ibpap, in turn, was selected by the CHEd after a stringent public bidding process to be its project technical expert for this purpose.

LSPU’s Bawica noted that being a teacher is not an easy job. “Every day we deliver knowledge [to] our students, but it is a task that we embrace willingly, because the single most important component to drive us forward is manpower or our human capital,” he said.

Rupido, meanwhile, said: “We are being challenged today on how to make our students more competent, particularly with regard to communication skills.”

For her part, Dean Atienza said that just being part of a national training activity is an honor, but that there is more to it. “We are the single biggest human resource provider in the country. [And now] the national government has finally gotten it.
The quality of higher education is not going down. We just had to find out what we should be trained in. [The SMP Teachers Camp] is what we need. More importantly, we will make a lot of families better and happier, because [with better competencies] our young men and women can now work abroad while living here.”

Sam Miguel
05-09-2013, 10:38 AM
Eighth grader: What bothered me most about new Common Core test

Posted by Valerie Strauss on May 8, 2013 at 5:00 am

Here’s a piece from an eighth grade student named Isaiah Schrader about his recent experience with the new Common Core-aligned assessment tests he and other New York students just took. Isaiah, who is 14 years old, attends Anne M. Dorner Middle School, in Ossining, New York. He is a 2012 Caroline D. Bradley Scholar (awarded to exceptionally gifted middle school students), and will attend the Trinity School in New York City next year.

By Isaiah Schrader

Students from Massena to Montauk, from Plattsburgh to Poughkeepsie just took the New York State English exam. The exam, created by the education giant, Pearson, featured passages and questions that required the test-taker to be able to comprehend and analyze them. This was no small feat. The passages, like one about a man fishing for a screwdriver with a magnet, and a story about a busboy cleaning up soda, challenged students throughout the state. But the test had one feature that shocked this test-taker and surely others who noticed it: product placement.

The “busboy” passage in the eighth grade test I took was fictional, written about a dishwasher at a pizza restaurant. In it, the busboy neglects to notice a large puddle of root beer under a table that he clears. His irate employer notifies him about the mess, and he cleans it up. It seems alright at first glace. However, the root beer was referred to at one point as Mug™ Root Beer. It was followed by a footnote, which informed test-takers that Mug™ was a registered trademark of PepsiCo. The brand of soda, the type of soda, and, come to think of it, the exact beverage was not necessary to the development of the story, nor was it mentioned in any of the confusing and analytical questions following the passage.

So why was the brand and trademark included? Did the New York State Department of Education, which regulates the tests, receive any payment for these references to trademarked products? “No one was paid for product placements,’’ Antonia Valentine, a spokeswoman for the department, told me in an interview. “This is the first time we have had 100 percent authentic texts on the assessments. Any brand names that occurred in them were incidental and were cited according to publishing conventions.” She added that only in some cases unrelated to product placement – when passages were not in the public domain – did the state pay for permission to use passages. There was, in the same story that cited Mug™ Root Beer a mention of a Melmac™ dish. It played an equally unimportant role in the passage.

Non-fictional passages in the test I took included an article about robots, where the brands IBM™, Lego®, FIFA® and Mindstorms™ popped up, each explained with a footnote. I cannot speak for all test takers, but I found the trademark references and their associated footnotes very distracting and troubling.

According to Barbara Kolson, an intellectual property lawyer for Stuart Weitzman Shoes, “The fact that the brands did not pay Pearson for the ‘product placement’ does not mean that the use is not product placement.” To the test-takers subjected to hidden advertising, it made no difference whether or not it was paid for. The only conclusion they (and this test-taker) made is that they could not be coincidental.

The effect of advertising on children is a hotly debated subject. Studies show that children are more susceptible than adults to advertising. The American Psychology Association recommends legislation restricting ads directed towards children. In Maine, for example, the advertising in schools of “Foods of Minimum Nutritional Value,” or FMNV, is prohibited. Following the same logic, shouldn’t state tests also exclude references to trademarked products that eighth graders find appealing, even tantalizing, like Mug™ root beer, or Lego® toys?

Why would Pearson, the world’s largest for-profit education business, include gratuitous references to trademarked products in its tests? Pearson did not answer my e-mailed messages requesting comment. [Pearson did issue a general statement, which you can read after this article.]

The company, which has a five-year, $32 million contract with New York State to produce standardized tests, should have been more responsible and reproduced texts that did not include trademarked – and highly recognizable – products.

Additionally, why would New York State permit these tests to create a captive market for products, like soda, that lead to obesity and other health problems in children? Arguably, New York State taxpayers have paid for the ads in their children’s state tests, one way or another.

Students in grades 3-8 are required by New York State to take standardized tests annually. No students should be required, however, to take tests that subject them to hidden advertising. Clearly the trademarked products mentioned throughout the exam had no relevance to the stated goals of testing students’ reading comprehension and analytical skills. Surely Pearson can afford to edit standardized tests and remove all mention of trademarked products.

Not only were students subjected to hidden advertising on this test, the new common core exam was much longer and more difficult than the old state assessments. The old tests, created by the McGraw Hill Company, were administered over a period of about two hours (per day) and included about forty questions over the course of three days. The new assessments were administered over the course of ninety minutes per day, with forty multiple choice questions per day on the first two days, and ten short and long response questions as well as an essay on the third day. By decreasing the time, and increasing the content in volume and difficulty, completing the exam was impossible for many students.

Taken together, the subjective and even nonsensical nature of questions and answers, product placement, and more time-consuming test format made the state assessments the most frustrating and unpleasant standardized test I have ever taken.

As a student who takes these tests year after year, I (and many others) can testify to the nonsensical and, at times, illogical qualities of many test passages and questions. Last year, for example, Pearson had to throw out six questions on its eighth grade English test that followed a perplexing fable with the moral, “Pineapples don’t have sleeves”. I thought that nothing could be worse than that test. I was wrong.

The Pearson statement:

As part of our partnership with NYSED, Pearson searches for previously published passages that will support grade-level appropriate items for use in the 3-8 ELA assessments. The passages must meet certain criteria agreed upon by both NYSED and Pearson in order to best align to Common Core State Standards and be robust enough to support the development of items. Once passages are approved, Pearson follows legal protocols to procure the rights to use the published passages on the assessment on behalf of NYSED. If a fee is required to obtain permission, Pearson pays this fee. NYSED has ultimate approval of passages used on the assessment.

As one of the main shifts of the Common Core State Standards is to help students read and analyze more authentic literature and workplace documents, brand names are referenced occasionally in the passages. Neither Pearson nor NYSED request that these brand names be added, eliminated, or changed. The brand names are not selected, but exist as part of previously published passages due to choices made by authors. Pearson and NYSED do not receive any financial compensation for product branding that is included in a passage or an item. If a brand is mentioned in a passage or item, the trademark symbol is included in order to follow rights and permission laws and procedures.

When a state testing program decides to use only authentic passages, the inclusion of brand names is inevitable. It should also be noted that passages are not edited for use on the assessment, unless permission to do so has been granted. Preserving the passage in its original state is part of the effort to present material students are likely to encounter in college or the workforce. As standard protocol, NYSED does not request the editing of passages, including the reference to products. In rare instances, if a correction to the original text is required (e.g., incorrect facts or incorrect punctuation), permission is sought to make that correction, and the change is only made if permission is granted.

As a practice, Pearson follows all trademark/copyright laws for art, products, photography, and text.This is not a new practice this year in New York State or for any Pearson product; it is part of Pearson’s ongoing attempt to provide material that meets the modern landscape of assessment while following important laws and regulations.

In addition, it should be noted that several assessment programs use only authentic passages and the inclusion of brand names is inevitable. We have verified that several different assessment programs have instances of brand names included due to use of authentic texts.

05-09-2013, 10:55 AM
Between Pearson and Isaiah we all know who is full of BS. . .

Sam Miguel
05-10-2013, 09:36 AM
The humanities are just as important as STEM classes

By Danielle Allen, Feb 15, 2013 12:57 AM EST

The Washington Post Friday, February 15, 8:57 AM

Danielle Allen is a professor of social science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J. Her forthcoming book, co-edited with Rob Reich, is “Education, Justice, and Democracy.”

In his State of the Union address, President Obama announced that the Education Department would launch another competition to spur educational reform in the states.

Four years ago, the Race to the Top program drove changes in state policy on charter schools, teacher tenure, and standards and accountability. Now the administration proposes a competition to “redesign America’s high schools.” Rewards will go to schools that develop more classes “that focus on science, technology, engineering and math — the skills today’s employers are looking for to fill jobs right now and in the future,” the president said.

Let’s not forget that you can’t do well in math and engineering if you can’t read proficiently, and that reading is the province of courses in literature, language and writing. Nor can you do well in science and technology if you can’t interpret images and develop effective visualizations — skills that are strengthened by courses in art and art history.

You also can’t excel at citizenship if you can’t read, write or speak well, or understand the complexity of the world and think historically. History helps us understand the features of our worlds that are changeable and that require either reform, because they are damaging, or protection, because they are valuable but vulnerable.

Duke University President Richard Brodhead likes to point out that Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Harold Varmus, the director of the National Cancer Institute; and Steve Jobs, the late founder of Apple, all studied the humanities. Dempsey and Varmus have degrees in English. Although Jobs dropped out, he initially attended Reed College, famous for its strong emphasis on the humanities.

U.S. high schools absolutely need to innovate. But our students also need to achieve at far higher levels in the fields of the humanities, not merely in the STEM fields.

Better than a challenge to states to enhance their STEM education would be a challenge to states to build curricular and pedagogic innovations that will allow them to succeed at meeting the new Common Core State Standards.

An initiative of the National Governors Association, the standards seek to clarify the knowledge and skills students need for success in the workforce and in college. There are two sets of standards: one for mathematics and one for English language arts and literacy in history/*social studies, science and technical subjects.

No Child Left Behind left it to states to set their own standards. But because the Common Core standards are being implemented by 45 states and the District, we will soon have an opportunity at last to compare the quality of education throughout the country.

The Common Core standards recognize that literacy, the humanities and history are as important as math, science and technical subjects in preparing students for jobs and college. They will also improve our ability to prepare students for citizenship. They should, in other words, help us achieve not only college and work readiness but also participatory readiness.

States are going to have a hard time rising to the level of the new standards. So we could use another competition to excite innovation — but let’s have a competition to spur states’ efforts to find ways of teaching successfully to the Common Core standards. This would entail fostering innovation and improvement for instruction in language arts and historical and civic literacy, as well as in STEM fields. We can do both. Surely we citizens should be that ambitious.

Sam Miguel
05-10-2013, 10:25 AM
Poverty amidst signs of plenty


By Roberto R. Romulo

(The Philippine Star) | Updated May 10, 2013 - 12:00am

The reaction among politicians to the phenomenal economic growth being experienced by the Philippines appears to be divided between those who see it as a half-filled glass and those who see it as half-empty. One side of the political spectrum claim credit for this achievement and brook no criticism despite certainly valid points being raised on poverty and job creation. The other side includes those, who are in Henry David Thoreau words, “fault-finders who will find faults even in paradise”. But even discounting the fact that this is also the “silly season” – meaning the election campaign period — where politicians are given to hyperboles and impractical solutions, both sides make a valid point. It cannot be denied that this is indeed a remarkable achievement and a validation of President Aquino’s program, in which “Daang Matuwid” is the underpinning. Equally, to deny that poverty incidence remains high and that joblessness continues to be a major challenge would be doing a great disservice to the efforts to make this economic growth sustainable and inclusive.

NEDA’s Balisacan

This is why I think NEDA director-general Arsenio Balisacan, a well-known expert on poverty, should be commended for not couching his report in the language tailored for this “silly season” of political spin. Some say this might not have been a good time to release the report so kudos too for the administration’s countenance of this report. But numbers do not lie though their interpretation can perpetuate a lie. The 2012 poverty report says that the poverty incidence since 2008 is unchanged and as a matter of fact not much changed from the 31-percent poverty incidence during the time of President Ramos. An important point to be made however is that during the same period our population base grew by more than 30 percent. This would have required our GDP to grow at a rate of around seven percent minimum for it to make any significant dent on poverty. This rate is the commonly accepted yardstick based on modeling and on the actual experience of countries like China and Indonesia. In our case, we averaged around four percent during this period. In fact our real GDP per capital rate in 2010 based on purchasing power is lower than the per capita rate in 2000!

Focus on education

Fortunately there are people who have not lost sight of the fact that “every system is perfectly designed to produce the results it gets.” Since our poverty incidence has remained intractable for the past few decades, it must mean that our present system is “perfectly designed” to keep a third of Filipinos in poverty and must therefore be overhauled if we are to solve this problem once and for all. For this issue, I would like to focus on one component of this system - education as it relates to job creation.

Obviously poverty reduction is complex, with multi-stakeholders. Even with the right policies in place, it will take some years before a sharp reduction is experienced. It will take a combination of low population growth and sustained economic growth to achieve this. Even then not everyone will necessarily share the fruits of economic growth - there will always be pockets of poverty geographically and demographically even in the highest growing economies. They include children, single-parent households, indigenous and tribal peoples and those who cannot take advantage of the opportunities offered by economic growth by virtue of their skills and location relative to the employment. Then there are those living in areas that are poorly endowed, far from the sources of growth or are racked by instability and failed governance – the combination of which have made the ARMM as the poorest region in the country. It is therefore important to look at the sources of this high economic growth and its distribution, in particular, its implications for job creation. To take this to the extreme by example, many of the unemployed and underemployed are in the rural areas and not everyone can be a call center agent or a BPO provider – there are not enough openings anyway to accommodate them all. There must be other sources of employment – in agribusiness, manufacturing and services – where the vast majority of our unemployed can qualify – must be created. Job creation and poverty rates are inextricably linked. The challenge is formidable. World Bank country director for the Philippines Motoo Konishi estimates that the Philippines must create 14.6 million jobs between now and 2016 if the political aspirations of inclusive growth are to be fulfilled.

‘Demographic dividend’

Much has been made of the so-called “demographic dividend” which they say the Philippines is poised to enjoy as countries in the region face an aging population. Indeed it is the consumption of this large, relatively young population that is propelling the country’s economic growth. In a paper presented to the 35th Pacific Trade and Development Conference in Vancouver in June 2012 by Emmanuel Jimenez and Elizabeth M. King, the World Bank pointed out the benefits from the “demographic dividend” is not automatic and requires a massive effort to obtain, and even more difficult to sustain.

The authors, Jimenez and King, say that almost a half century ago, the famed Swedish economist Gunnar Myrdal predicted that Burma (Myanmar) and the Philippines were the two Asian countries most likely to achieve rapid growth in the Asian region. This prediction, since proven to be inaccurate, was based partly on the fact that the Philippines and Burma accumulated more human capital than other countries in the region – based on the literacy and educational levels of its population. “In 1960, the secondary school enrolment rate in the Philippines was 26 percent — higher than that of Malaysia and Hong Kong and, in fact, higher than that of Portugal and Spain. At 10 percent, secondary school enrolment rate in the poorer parts of Burma was much lower, but still exceeded the rates of countries that are now significantly richer, such as Indonesia and Thailand.” We know that what happened to Myanmar was largely self-inflicted. The case of the Philippines was a little more complicated – population pressure not matched by income growth – overburdened the school system, lowering its quality and depriving others of educational opportunity. While our participation rate at the secondary level has risen steadily, it has since been exceeded by Indonesia and Thailand.

East asian tigers

In contrast, they point out that the growth of the so-called East Asian Tigers — Hong Kong SAR (China), Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan (China) — was built on “astute investments in schooling and training and enhanced by a demographic dividend made possible through falling fertility rates. The demographic dividend meant that when young people became workers they not only had more schooling but they also had fewer dependents to support.”

‘Tiger cubs’

The authors say that the “tiger cubs” — Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand — are well placed to emulate the Asian tigers. But they would need “to adjust to dramatic demographic shifts” and ensure that education systems deliver the skills needed to boost productivity and meet the needs of a changing global economy. This will require a “vigorous response” from the education systems. Yet the track record of these systems is mixed – that is to say the quality of education and training in some cases – is not up to par with global standards or are not relevant to current and future demands. Recent surveys have in fact shown that despite the increasing number of educated youth, firms in the region say that finding the right people remains a significant obstacle to their growth.

Our education system must be improved to achieve the objective which the authors outlined and which they themselves say are quite known and accepted, but poses significant challenge in implementing: “matching the skills being acquired today with those that will be needed in tomorrow’s global markets; stimulating demand for human capital formation among excluded groups; providing second-chance learning opportunities; reforming higher education; and facilitating the movement of educated labor to where it can be used most productively.” In other words, quality is just as important as expanding quantity for education opportunities.

The fact that writing about one component of the social and economic system – education – has taken up all the space I have for this column and with more that still need to be said about this alone confirms that poverty reduction is a complex task encompassing a broad array of factors - health, population, capital investment, infrastructure, rural development and many others. What is clear is that the system as it currently stands is inadequate to meet the challenge. It has to be overhauled if it is to produce new results. The simple message is creating jobs is the most effective way of addressing poverty. Obviously this needs the convergence of different stakeholders towards a shared understanding of the intractable issue as well as a coordinated response and collective action. In other countries, they do a national summit and a national compact. I am sure there are people in the Cabinet who can put this together.

05-10-2013, 11:05 AM
The humanities are just as important as STEM classes

By Danielle Allen, Feb 15, 2013 12:57 AM EST

The Washington Post Friday, February 15, 8:57 AM

The article by Michael Tan on the Middle-Income Trap where the UP College of Philosophy contributes by gathering "stories" of perception and experiences of development is also proof of this. :)

Sam Miguel
05-16-2013, 08:18 AM
‘K-to-12’ education now a law

By TJ Burgonio

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:00 am | Thursday, May 16th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—President Aquino signed a law on Wednesday adding three extra years to the country’s 10-year basic education curriculum in a bid to make Filipino students at par with their peers in other countries.

“This lays the foundations for a better future for every Filipino child,” President Aquino said Wednesday after signing the law which makes enrollment in kindergarten compulsory before children can begin the traditional six years of primary school and adds two more years to high school.

The Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013, or the K-to-12 Act, establishes a “universal kindergarten” and introduces Grades 11 and 12 to high school education in public and private schools.

Students will have to complete the extra education to qualify for university.

Until this law’s enactment, the Philippines was the only country in Asia and one of only three countries worldwide, together with Angola and Djibouti, with a 10-year preuniversity cycle.

“We now know that our traditional 10-year basic education cycle is deficient,” Aquino said at the signing ceremony. “Given that our young people are at a disadvantage in terms of basic education, how can we expect them to compete for employment and other higher pursuits?”

Aquino said Republic Act No. 10533 institutionalizes a system of education that “truly imbues our youth with the skills they need to pursue their dreams.”

“By signing this bill into law, we are not just adding two years of additional learning for our students; we are making certain that the coming generations are empowered to strengthen the very fabric of our society, as well as our economy,” he told lawmakers, Cabinet officials, diplomats and students.

The law, Aquino stressed, was crafted to plug the shortcomings of the 10-year basic education cycle in which students had less time to understand their lessons, and had to compete with better-prepared graduates from other countries.

“If our youth are forced to shoulder such an educational handicap from the beginning, how can they possibly compete for employment in the long run?” he said.

The enhanced basic education program covers at least one year of kindergarten, six years of elementary education and six years of secondary education, broken down into four years of junior high school and two years of senior high school.

The last two years of senior high school are the new Grades 11 and 12 that will be introduced in 2016. To refine the old curriculum, the law mandates the teaching of basic education in languages understood by the students.—With a report from AFP

Sam Miguel
05-16-2013, 09:14 AM
K-12 for all, use of mother tongue now law

By Delon Porcalla

(The Philippine Star) | Updated May 16, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino yesterday signed the K to 12 Basic Education Program law, which adds two years to basic education and makes enrollment of children in kindergarten compulsory.

Aquino signed Republic Act 10533 or the “Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013” barely three weeks before the opening of classes in public and private schools nationwide on June 3.

Under the K to 12 program, children are required to enroll in kindergarten before they can begin six years of primary education.

Two years will be added to the four-year high school curriculum.

The law also mandates the use of the mother tongue as the medium of instruction from kindergarten to third grade before English is introduced.

The additional years will serve as a specialization period for senior high school students, whether in vocational skills, music, arts or sports. They will be prepared in middle-level skills development, entrepreneurship, employment and tertiary education.

Senior high school graduates will then have an option to take either short-term technical vocational courses, wherein employment is immediate, or pursue college education.

The implementation of the law aims to provide sufficient time for students to master “concept and skills, develop lifelong learners and prepare graduates for tertiary education, middle-level skills development, employment and entrepreneurship.”

Aquino said the new education program will strengthen the basic education requirements of students which, in turn, will bring them closer to the fulfillment of their dreams.

“We now know that our traditional 10-year basic education cycle is deficient,” Aquino said during a ceremony at Malacañang where he signed the law.

“Given that our young people are at a disadvantage in terms of basic education, how can we expect them to compete for employment and other higher pursuits?”

The President also said the government remains focused on providing quality education for Filipino students, as his administration continues to introduce reforms and programs designed to improve the delivery of knowledge and learning in schools.

The government said it was building tens of thousands of new classrooms, hiring nearly 18,000 teachers, and printing tens of millions of textbooks this year to implement the new education program nationwide.

Aquino said the education department budget has been raised to P232 billion this year, up 44 percent from 2010 levels, largely to pay for the extra services.

Aquino, halfway through a six-year term, also reiterated that one of the main goals of his presidency is to create a more inclusive society in the impoverished country of 100 million people.

Twenty-nine percent of the workforce is jobless or underemployed, according to the latest government data.

Nearly 10 million Filipinos have been forced to seek better-paying jobs abroad.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. as well as Senators Ralph Recto, Franklin Drilon and Edgardo Angara, and Representatives Neptali Gonzales II of Mandaluyong City, Sandy Ocampo of Manila, and Juan Edgardo Angara of Aurora province witnessed the signing.

Recto lauds signing of K-12 law

Recto, one of the principal authors of the Senate version of the K to 12 bill, lauded the signing of the measure into law.

He said a longer learning period would improve the quality of Philippine education and would keep the country at par with other nations.

“Our graduates would no longer be discriminated against by their length of campus stay and would be measured by their talent, proficiency and world-class skills,” Recto added.

Recto also noted that the signing comes in the wake of a successful midterm election and “this refocuses our poll-distracted lenses to give a 20-20 vision to our children’s future and to the much-needed reforms in education.”

He said the signing into law of the K-12 bill provides an impetus for the incoming members of the new Senate to take up reforms in education as part of their legislative agenda.

Use of mother tongue

Recto included into the measure the use of the mother tongue as the medium of instruction from kindergarten until the third year of primary school – another major reform under the K-12 program.

Recto cited latest global studies which confirmed that learning through the use of the mother tongue results in “quicker comprehension.”

He also noted that in the country, the average Filipino is multilingual and can understand several local dialects aside from English.

“Scientific studies and global trends point to multilingual-based education using the mother tongue as becoming the standard teaching method for basic literacy all over the world,” Recto said.

The language of instruction will then gradually shift to English from grades four to six in primary school.

Subjects will be taught in English throughout high school, as the country considers English proficiency by its workforce as a competitive advantage in employment.

New tech-voc curriculum under K-12

Meanwhile, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority has completed the new curriculum for technical vocational education and training courses for students under the K-12 program, TESDA director general Joel Villanueva said yesterday.

“Teachers can already use the new curriculum in the coming school year,” Villanueva said.

The TESDA chief said curriculum guides, learning modules, and teachers’ guides for 23 technical vocational courses have been developed for incoming Grades 7 and 8 students.

Review of these materials for Grades 9 to 10 is ongoing.

Technical vocational courses that will be offered are automotive servicing, mechanical drafting, computer hardware servicing, horticulture, shielded metal arc welding, consumer electronics servicing, aquaculture, dressmaking and tailoring, and masonry.

Care-giving, household services, plumbing, agricultural crop production, fish capture, handicraft, carpentry, RAC servicing (DomRac), electrical installation and maintenance, bread and pastry production, tile setting, animal production, food (fish) processing, and beauty care (nail care services) will also be offered. – With Christina Mendez, Mayen Jaymalin, Helen Flores

Sam Miguel
05-16-2013, 09:15 AM
Is K12 the answer?


By Rey Gamboa

(The Philippine Star) | Updated May 16, 2013 - 12:00am

With results of the mid-term elections just waiting to be formalized, the country goes back to its regular business. And for most Filipinos these days, it is getting children ready to go back to school in June.

Last school year, the Department of Education piloted its preferred K12 or Enhanced K12 Basic Education Program in 30 schools, both public and private.

The addition of two more years to the secondary level learning, to be called senior high school, and the formal inclusion of an earlier mandated kindergarten level are the two basic features of K12.

For many of us who mark our children’s education by graduations, this equates now to having four of these ceremonies during the K12 period. The first is graduation from kindergarten; the second, from elementary; the third, from junior high school; and the fourth, from senior high school.

Of course, if your child decides to take up higher studies, you may have to add college, even masters and doctorate, graduations. By this time, the spritely mom and dad who bounded upstage with pride to have a souvenir picture of their young tyke would probably be short of sight and hobbled, and the smile may be more a sigh of relief.

Controversial bill

But back to K12. Just before Congress adjourned for elections in February, the lower and Upper Houses both passed their agreed versions of the K12 law. Recently, it’s been announced that P-Noy is about ready to give his stamp of approval on this controversial proposed law.

When the plan to go K12 was first made public, a lot of protests were heard, not just from parents who would need to shell out more money to have their daughter or son finish basic education, i.e., until senior high school, but even from those who espoused quality education as a better solution to the continuing degradation of the education system.

In fact, it was not just the quality of teaching that was the problem. For majority of poor Filipinos, the challenge lay in sending their children even through primary education. Have we forgotten the high dropout rates of children even at the public elementary levels where tuition is free?

We could also add that another problem lay in the inadequate number of classrooms, particularly in public schools, where children are packed beyond decent numbers, and go on shifts and shortened class hours during the day and in a week.

‘Quality’ education

In the DepEd’s primer on K12, also referred to as K 6-4-2, the government agency recites the lofty ideals of quality basic education as a basic right of every Filipino, and which, therefore, government will make available free of charge.

It further justifies the addition of two more years to the current 10 years (not including kindergarten) “to decongest and enhance the basic education curriculum” and “to provide better quality education for all.”

Such motherhood statements are further supported by illogical arguments. First, the DepEd says that the Philippines is the only remaining country in Asia with a 10-year basic education program, and that K12 is not new and that the proposal to expand the basic education dates back to 1925.

Pulling figures from somewhere, the DepEd further states that studies in the Philippines have shown that an additional year of schooling increases earnings by 7.5 percent, and that improvements in the quality of education will increase GDP growth to 2.2 percent.

The DepEd further argues that K12 is “Minus two instead of plus two for those families who cannot afford a college education, but still wish to have their children find a good paying job. Right now, parents spend for at least four years of college to have an employable child. In our model, parents will not pay for two years of basic education that will give them an employable child. In effect, we are saving parents two years of expenses. The plan is not “Plus two years before graduation” but “Minus two years before work.”

I can relate to the last statement that K12 should “inspire a shift in attitude that completion of high school education is more than just preparation for college but can be sufficient for a gainful employment or career,” although just how I honestly cannot imagine.

Unanswered issues

After reading the DepEd’s K12 primer, I am moved to tears – of frustration. I would like to hear what it plans to do to improve the quality of teaching, of solving poverty that breeds dropouts, and of bringing those out-of-school youths back to the classrooms.

The next administration will be in for a big surprise when Grades 11 and 12 are mandatory by 2016. Without enough resources, how will two more years of free public schooling be funded?

Will adding two more years really improve the quality of education of our youngsters?

On Kasambahay Law

From one of our readers, Nony de Leon, is a comment about the new Kasambahay Law. “I hope the IRR which is being crafted does not make the law difficult to comply with. The rules and regulation should be user-friendly, unlike many bureaucratic procedures which are often an almost unsolvable puzzle to the ordinary citizen.

“From some of the press releases about the IRR, they are thinking of new and additional requirements for the registration of the kasambahay with the SSS, the Pag-Ibig, the Philhealth, the BIR, and the barangay; plus more stringent procedures for the payment of premiums and fees.

“And guess who will be obliged to comply with all these; no one else but the household employers.

“Even now, the direction seems to complicate compliance with the law. Let’s keep things simple. We are not talking about multi-employee employers here but simple, ordinary housewives and househusbands who do not have anybody but themselves to attend to these.”

Sam Miguel
05-17-2013, 01:10 PM
DepEd seeks specialized high school programs under K-12

By Helen Flores

(The Philippine Star) | Updated May 17, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Education Secretary Armin Luistro urged public and private colleges and universities yesterday to put up “specialized” senior high school programs under the newly signed K to 12 Basic Education Program law to help ease unemployment in the country.

Luistro said public and private colleges and universities that plan to offer programs for senior high school by 2016 should base their programs on the kind of jobs needed in their respective areas.

“If the schools will offer the same courses, the graduates will compete for the same job. But if their programs will be specialized, they can focus on jobs as well as business opportunities available in their areas,” Luistro told reporters.

He cited Batangas where there is high demand for ship repair, and schools can offer welding courses for senior high school students.

“In Siargao, surfing is very popular especially among foreign tourists, we can create a surfing academy,” he said.

Republic Act 10533, or the K to 12 Basic Education Program law, makes it compulsory to enroll children in kindergarten before they can begin six years of primary education.

Two years will also be added to the four-year high school curriculum.

The additional years will serve as a specialization period for senior high school students, whether in vocational skills, music, arts or sports.

Luistro said the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Asian Development Bank are undertaking a mapping of schools planning to put up senior high school in the next three years.

“We hope to finish the mapping by November this year so we will have three years to prepare,” he said.

Prior to the signing of the K to 12 law, private schools expressed willingness to put up 30 percent of the classrooms needed for senior high school programs while the remaining 70 percent will be funded by the government.

“The schools were hesitant to commit to building facilities for senior high school before because they were not sure if the K to 12 program will be signed into law,” he said.

“After the signing of the K to 12 program (last Wednesday), we expect 60-40,” said Luistro.

He said the government would save on expenses if colleges and universities will offer programs for senior high school since this would mean the DepEd will construct less classrooms.

He said the agency is also offering subsidies – amounting to P6,500 – for senior high school students who want to enroll in private schools.

Luistro said this would also address concerns raised by colleges and universities that they would be losing revenues with the implementation of K to 12 since there would be no enrollees for first year in 2016 and 2017.

Around one million students will enter senior high school by 2016.

Private schools laud K to 12

Meanwhile, the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA) lauded the passage of the K to 12 program into law.

Jose Paulo Campos, COCOPEA chairman, said people should not look at K to 12 as a burden to students who would be required to take two more years of basic education.

Sam Miguel
05-17-2013, 01:18 PM
UP naming mahal, mahal patakbohin!


By Boo Chanco

(The Philippine Star) | Updated May 17, 2013 - 12:00am

For anyone from UP, a visit after many years is always nostalgic. I live less than 10 kilometers from the UP Diliman campus, but the occasions to visit are rare. Mostly it is at night to attend someone’s wake at the UP Chapel.

The last time I was at the campus was a few months ago to meet with Alfredo Pascual, UP President and Prospero de Vera, UP vice president, together with Ging Reyes, ABS-CBN News head and a UP alumna to discuss a partnership for the election coverage. It was a good partnership and we managed to get the academic community involved in the public discussions essential for intelligent voting.

The fact checking and the UP Halalan website which had in-depth articles of academics on issues were ground breaking. The UP academics provided perspectives often lost in the busy daily world of mass media.

I was back at UP last Wednesday again to meet with Fred. I was interested to find out more about how UP is using its landholdings to augment its annual budget from Congress. With me was fellow PhilStar columnist Paulo Alcazaren who is an acknowledged expert on land use principles and is also a UP faculty member on leave.

Paulo started the meeting with a map of the original plan for Quezon City’s development prepared during the American colonial days. It was interesting to learn that we actually had a good sensible plan for a capital city. One would never have guessed looking at what we have now.

Congress was supposed to be at the Quezon Memorial Circle and other agencies of government including the Supreme Court were supposed to be in the general area. Interestingly, there was a plan to transfer Malacanang or at least, the official residence of the President to what is now the Veterans Memorial Hospital.

And there was the large expanse of land, more than what it is now today at about 500 hectares, that was allocated for UP. But a succession of UP administrations apparently failed to preserve the campus from the onslaughts of squatters and land grabbers. Now, there is not enough left that could be put to work to earn enough to augment UP’s annual budget needs.

UP officials gave us a presentation that itemized the land holdings of UP all over the country. They also estimated potential income from those that could be set aside for mixed use development. The priority, of course, is academic use.

The number crunching gave a maximum potential of P2.3 billion annual income, assuming the development plans can be carried out. This means, UP is really dependent on an annual outlay from Congress which in the past was in the range of P5-6 billion a year.

The current rules limit what they can do. For example, what can anyone do with 24 hectares of prime UP campus land in Krus na Ligas that is one big squatter colony? That’s almost twice the size of one Rockwell development. The largest portions of UP’s landholdings are in the foothills of the Sierra Madre mountains in Laguna and Quezon. Little or no income can be generated there now.

This year, Fred is confident that through the cooperation of members of Congress and the Budget department, UP will have P10 billion. Maintenance and operating expenses are in the region of P2 billion, and salaries, particularly of the professors, can reach a high of P6 billion. Then, there are capital expenses that must be made to keep facilities up to date. Ang UP naming mahal ay mahal palang patakbohin.

I complained to Fred about how badly maintained the campus seems to be. I drove past the UP Infirmary and it looks like it is ready to be demolished. I was once confined in that infirmary during my college days and it looked a lot better. But that was 40 years ago and it doesn’t seem it was maintained since.

I asked Fred if it is possible to consider a PPP plan to modernize the infirmary. Maybe something could be put to private health services providers that would meet the health needs of the university students and staff at a cost not far from the present.

Fred was interested in such an idea but he explained to me that it is not easy to do anything new at UP. The academe may be cutting edge in terms of acquiring new knowledge, but ultra-conservative in the management of its daily affairs. Worse, UP is also government and covered by bureaucratic rules.

It was mentioned that Smart offered to provide mobile Internet access for the university,even if there is no cost involved other than a small place where they can put a cell site tower. Getting the contract approved through the mill was worse than pulling teeth.

But yes, Fred is interested in using the PPP concept to get the campus infrastructure they need. I suggested that it be considered in building dormitories such as the relatively high end International Center which I noticed looked like it was well past its prime. It used to be the most modern of the dormitories, and most expensive.

Then I complained about how the campus looks like a bad mismatch of architectural styles. There is no consistency in the way the new and old buildings look, nor is there an attempt to make them complement each other. The newer buildings of various colleges are like houses in a gated subdivision… stand-alones with no regard to the surrounding environment.

That is really a pity because the university teaches architecture and environment planning and the best professionals in the field are there. So why can’t they practice in the campus what they teach in the classroom? In the corporate world, we have a style manual that covers everything from stationery to signs and architectural styles.

Fred can only smile. I realize his problem. UP is one ungovernable community populated by people who are extremely jealous of their prerogatives and think highly of their opinions. Every dean, indeed every professor is a republic within the Diliman Republic.

I think Fred has a more difficult job than P-Noy. At least P-Noy gets respect from the bureaucracy. No UP president gets that respect from the wise guys in the UP community who think they know everything.

That was why we observed, during our stay at the university, they always appointed former ambassadors to the United Nations as UP president. We had Carlos P. Romulo and Salvador P. Lopez in succession. Diplomatic skills are essential for the UP president and perhaps, Fred is using a lot of what he learned from his stint at the Asian Development Bank.

Fred asked me to be a little more patient because he is doing a lot of housecleaning first. On top of his list is getting a computer information system that would give them important details of daily operations in real time. There is no such capability now which means they are managing UP on hunches, blind. Unthinkable in the corporate world!

There are big and small things that need attention. There are so many things that can be done to bring the quality of UP operations to the same world class level of its academics. And I think Fred is up to the job.


Herb P sent me this e-mail.

Greetings! Another insightful column on how things work in the Philippines. These insights are so needed if there is to be change. But it is also so disturbing to realize how many Philippine officials are inept.

There was one glaring omission in the column. Where was Cebu Pacific management while their employees were suffering through weeks of heat? Where was Cebu Pacific’s regard for their customers? 5-J has a virtual monopoly at terminal 3 and what was their participation in this fiasco?

Incidentally last month I had my second arrival at Terminal 3 from America on ANA from San Francisco via Tokyo. These were the most civilized arrivals in Manila I have experienced in the past 25 years. Yes the terminal was warm but after all this was NAIA.

But for now the pleasure of no congestion is exceeded only by the joy of meeting friends in a civilized, no hassle manner in a comfortable safe atmosphere.

In San Francisco I look forward to reading your opinions in the Internet Star. Your and Marie Pamintuan’s writing is the best thing about The Star. A grateful thanks to both of you.


Jay Leno was supposed to have once said, “Politics is just show business for ugly people.”

05-19-2013, 08:21 AM
The quest for teacher excellence

By Butch Hernandez

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:10 pm | Friday, May 17th, 2013

When the SMP (service management program) Teachers Camp opened last May 2, Prof. Joel Bawica of Laguna State Polytechnic University (LSPU) remarked that he felt a combination of nervousness and pride: nervousness because he and his peers would be wrestling with new and unfamiliar content, and pride because his institution would be one of the first state universities and colleges to participate in a project that aims to align higher education goals with the competencies demanded by the information technology and business process management (IT-BPM) industry.

For the past three weeks, the LSPU faculty together with instructors and professors of Cavite State University (Cavsu) led by Dr. Roderick Rupido and Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) led by Dr. Teresita Atienza and Henry Prudente waded through the content and recommended teaching strategies for the four domains of the service management specialization track: namely, business communication, principles of systems thinking, fundamentals of the business process management industry, and service culture.

Del Calub, training manager for Asia Pacific College, deftly orchestrated the daily sessions conducted by the young but very competent master trainers from Aegis Philippines—Jackie Gulrajani, Richard Ngo, Neil Norman Littaua, Deng and Mike Lopez, Stephen Genotiva, and their team leader Olive Ybañez.

Likewise, Orly Agawin infused the sessions with advanced English preemployment training concepts while Hector Atendido of Edulynx strengthened communication fundamentals with basic English skills training.

The SMP Teachers Camp evolved, as it should, into a learning experience on what it takes to foster teacher excellence for everyone involved, including the project delivery team of the Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (Ibpap) led by Jopat Lelay and Ella Antonio.

In fact, teacher excellence is a key point in the global education reform agenda. A New York Times opinion piece, appropriately titled “In Search of Excellent Teaching,” says that a critical point in evaluating a teacher’s effectiveness is student achievement.

“Indeed, there are now evaluation systems that take student achievement into account in various ways. These systems are still in their formative stages, but at their best, these evaluation systems are based on the idea that teaching is difficult to master and that high performers tend to get that way through intensive feedback and help from colleagues,” the article points out.

Comprehensive training programs like the SMP Teachers Camp are groundbreaking because they are tailored for a university environment and, at the same time, grounded in industry realities. This is the correct strategic approach to strengthening the public value of higher education institutions vis à vis pressures from global markets.

In her paper on the basic education sector reform agenda and higher education reform, Dr. Ma. Serena Diokno, the noted historian, said the “internationalization process” that higher education institutions are now witnessing is diminishing the hold of higher education over postsecondary learning and the creation of knowledge. Diokno added: “Global credentials for the practice of professions in information technology and human resources training are making college degrees unnecessary. Microsoft exams for its various software, for instance, yield credentials that are recognized worldwide.”

Diokno further warned that the intensified tension among the values of quality, equity and market has a far-reaching impact on the purpose of higher education and how universities are managed.

By quality, Diokno meant the value “that is tethered on merit, that upholds knowledge—not profit—as the university’s enduring purpose, and excellence and integrity as its overriding principles.” By equity, she meant “the belief that education is a public good essential to the individual and the larger society.”

Diokno emphasized that higher education today is conscious of the imperative to produce knowledge and help find solutions to social and global problems. She added, however, that there is a view that treats higher education as a commodity to be traded rather than as a source of learning and public good. “The view has mutated, but the end result is an overemphasis on the instrumental function of education—a means to a job—at the expense of the larger purpose of human and social development.”

This is the challenge that the newly trained faculty at the SMP Teachers Camp will face when they rejoin their respective higher education institutions: With the knowledge they have acquired, they now have the means and motivation to lead their students toward fulfilling careers that affirm their humanity.

The Ibpap embarked on this partnership with the Commission on Higher Education because it wanted to do all it can to help teachers meet this challenge squarely—and prevail.

So stand and be recognized, dear educators from Cavsu, LSPU and PUP. We wish you all the best, and rest assured that we in the IT-BPM industry will be with you every step of the way. We are taking our cue from Bawica, who verbalized a sentiment that was in the mind of every participant at the SMP Teachers Camp: “Being a teacher is not an easy job.”

Sam Miguel
05-21-2013, 08:37 AM
DepEd plans to send more students to private schools

By Dona Z. Pazzibugan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:59 am | Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

The Department of Education (DepEd) is mulling over entering into more service contracting schemes with private schools to absorb more than a third of the expected one million students who will be entering senior high school in 2016.

The two years of senior high school—Grades 11 and 12—that will be added to the 10-year basic education curriculum will be implemented nationwide beginning June 2016.

Education Secretary Armin Luistro said they estimated that about a million students in the public schools would be graduating from Grade 10 or 4th year high school in March 2016.

“If all of them will go on to the public schools (for Grade 11), we need to build classrooms for one million students,” Luistro said.

By 2017, the public school system will again have to find a way to accommodate the same number students—about one million—for Grade 12.

“We have to compute the additional teachers and classrooms needed based on this number,” Luistro said.

The education secretary said that accommodating these students in private schools would be less costly than building new classrooms and facilities, procuring furniture and hiring more teachers.

The DepEd currently subsidizes the tuition of about 700,000 students in private high schools under the education service contracting scheme (ESC).

The ESC is a program under the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE) for students who could not be accommodated in public high schools and are therefore enrolled in private schools with a government subsidy.

The current annual subsidy is P10,000 per student in private schools in Metro Manila and P6,500 per student in participating schools outside Metro Manila.

“We’ll be happier if we have to build fewer classrooms. The government will be able to save more by giving subsidies instead,” Luistro said, explaining that the cost of keeping a student in the public school system is P14,000 a year.

He said that two months ago, they estimated that private schools may be able to absorb about 30 percent, or 300,000, of the incoming one million Grade 11 students.

“I wish the figure in the private schools will increase to 60:40 (60 percent for public schools and 40 percent for private schools),” Luistro said.

Meanwhile, the DepEd on Monday led the annual nationwide school cleanup effort “Brigada Eskwela” at the Philippine School for the Deaf in Pasay City.

The voluntary community effort brings together teachers, parents and various government and private groups and individuals who spruce up the public schools two weeks before the start of classes.

Public elementary and high schools will open on June 3 while many private schools are scheduled to open a week later.

“The brigada is the longest manifestation of people power in the Philippines,” Luistro said, describing how volunteers put in the time to paint classrooms, repair furniture and facilities, and clean up school grounds.

Luistro said the materials and supplies used are donated by the parents or by private businesses and foundations.

Sam Miguel
05-21-2013, 08:42 AM
Center to give research support for K to 12

By Tarra Quismundo

Philippine Daily Inquirer

8:29 pm | Monday, May 20th, 2013

Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Bill Tweddell and Philippine education officials opened recently the Assessment, Curriculum and Technology Research Centre (ACTRC).

Located at the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Education building in Diliman, Quezon City, the facility will focus on research in support of the Philippines’ implementation of the K to 12 program, which is covered by a law recently signed by President Aquino.

Tweddell, Education Secretary Armin Luistro, Commission on Higher Education Commissioner Cynthia Bautista, UP president Alfredo Pascual, other education officials and members of the academe attended ACTRC’s opening.

The Australian government gave the P150-million grant for the establishment of the center in support of the country’s basic education reform program.

ACTRC will focus on curriculum development, school assessment and the application of technology in upgrading the education system.

“Australia strongly supports the Philippine government’s efforts in implementing the K to 12 program. Investing in a quality education system will provide better opportunities for all and a pathway out of poverty for the most disadvantaged,” Tweddell said in a statement.

ACTRC will bring together the Philippines’ and Australia’s top research institutions—the UP College of Education and the University of Melbourne’s Assessment Research Centre— in “grounded research and evaluation activities in the areas of assessment, curriculum and technology as they relate to the implementation of the Philippine government’s K to 12 program.”

Through grant-funding, the Australian Agency for International Development would support the center’s first three years of operation, the Australian embassy said.

“Australia shares the Philippine government’s vision that K to 12, if implemented well, will bring the Philippines’ school system closer to international standards. The interaction of curriculum, assessment and the use of technology are important facets of a successful education program,” Tweddell said.

“The curriculum is the blueprint of an education system. Assessment provides a picture of where we are in that blueprint today. Technology enables the curriculum to respond to the needs of the 21st century,” he added.

K to 12 is the Aquino administration’s flagship education reform program that aims to improve the quality of Philippine high school graduates by spreading the clogged 10-year curriculum over 12 years.

In essence, the program hopes to give Filipino youth longer time to learn and prepare for life after basic education, whether they hope to go on to college or find employment after graduating from high school.

“The University of Melbourne and its Graduate School of Education is proud to be associated with this major initiative to inform the Philippines’ education and research communities. The center will provide an opportunity to put into practice evidence-based research outcomes through its collaborative activities with the Philippines’ Department of Education,” said Professor Field Rickards, dean of the Graduate School of Education of the University of Melbourne.

UP College of Education dean Rosario Alonzo said the facility and the collaboration it allowed would help promote the professional development of the UP faculty.

“This is crucial to the university’s (UP) fulfillment of its mandate as a research university,” she said.

Sam Miguel
05-21-2013, 08:43 AM
LET-ting them be what they want to be

In the top 10

By Dona Z. Pazzibugan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

8:27 pm | Monday, May 20th, 2013

Conrado T. Sotelo, who got the second-highest score (92) among the 15,223 examinees who passed the March Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET) secondary level, is a licensed nurse.

After high school, he said, he did not know what college course to take but his family urged him to take up nursing so he could get a high-paying job abroad.

But even as a third-year nursing student at Manila Tytana Colleges (formerly Manila Doctors College), “I realized I would enjoy … teaching. During lectures … I unconsciously found myself making observation notes and thinking how it would be if I was the one teaching,” he said.

After passing the nursing board examination in 2011, to his family’s dismay, Sotelo, instead of applying for a job in a hospital, became an online English teacher so he could go back to school to complete 18 units of education subjects needed to be able to take the LET.

Enrolling first at the University of the Philippines (UP) Open University, then at St. Paul University Manila, Sotelo completed the requirements and did a two-month practice teaching handling a biology class. Sotelo found the work “challenging, but I enjoyed teaching.”

“I want to do what I enjoy, where I can excel, where my heart is. And, no matter how hard, I will enjoy it,” he said.

Sotelo has been hired by MGC New Life Christian Academy in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City, where he will teach chemistry.

Engineering to teaching

A graduate of Manila Science High School, Alvin John T. Mayor, who got the fifth-highest score (91.20) in the LET secondary level, was in third year of the electronics and communications engineering course in UP Diliman when he had to stop for financial reasons.

Mayor, the eldest of four children, worked in a call center. It was during the two years he was there that he realized what he really wanted to do.

Doing some teaching in a tutorial center at the same time, “I realized I was happy, I felt satisfaction in teaching. I wanted to be a teacher instead of continuing my engineering course,” he said.

Mayor enrolled at National Teachers College (NTC) in Manila where a younger sister was also studying, while keeping his job in the call center.

Although he had to start from scratch as none of the college subjects he had already taken were credited, “I decided it was worth it,” Mayor said.

He eventually resigned from his job as he found it difficult to work at night then go to school in the daytime.

Fortunately, Mayor received financial assistance through NTC executive dean Leonisa del Rosario and Ponciano Menguito, superintendent of the Manila division of city schools.

He has so far applied at two private schools, one in Manila and the other in Caloocan.

“I will not go abroad. That’s not in my plans. I also want to teach at a public school,” Mayor declared.

Reluctant teacher

Janine L. Pogoso, who got the ninth-highest score (87.2) among the 10,310 out of 37,117 examinees who passed the LET for elementary teachers, wanted to become a nurse and go abroad. “But my application papers would somehow get lost at the last minute so I could not submit them,” she said.

Pogoso, who lost both parents when she was in high school, is the eldest of eight children.

With the deadline in college applications nearing, Pogoso decided to enroll at the Philippine Normal University-Manila on the advice of an aunt who, along with her grandparents, helped with her schooling.

Pogoso reviewed for the LET on her own while teaching at a private school. She will be joining Elizabeth Seton School in Las Piñas City this school year to teach Grade 3 Araling Panlipunan.

Dream come true

Devina D. Redillas, who was also ninth in the LET elementary level, said, “It had always been my dream to become a teacher so, after high school, I knew what I would take up in college.”

But financial difficulties made it hard for her to concentrate on her studies in a state university. After three years, she was no longer allowed to enroll because of too many academic deficiencies.

“I was not able to attend classes because I had no money for transportation. I had to drop many subjects. I needed about P100 a day to go to school. We couldn’t afford it,” said Redillas who was overcome by emotion remembering the situation.

After a year doing a series of temporary jobs, Redillas pulled herself together and decided to resume her studies for an education degree.

But she was turned down several times because of her poor transcript of records, until she remembered the school where a student-teacher who taught at her high school had graduated from.

NTC’s Del Rosario allowed her to enroll in 2009.

“She gave me a chance to redeem myself,” Redillas said.

A brother, who by then had graduated and had a job, paid her tuition. With assistance from professors when she was broke and some money she made from tutoring, Redillas graduated in October.

She did not expect much from the LET, much less to be in the Top 10, as she had a part-time teaching job until shortly before the LET.

Redillas credited the refresher courses and battery of tests they took before graduating for her good LET showing.

She would want to teach at a public school. “I [went to] public schools so I know the system. I want to … make a little difference, to make it (the system) better,” she said.

Sam Miguel
05-21-2013, 08:51 AM
After a slight detour, she’s back on track

By Rima Jessamine M. Granali

Philippine Daily Inquirer

8:33 pm | Monday, May 20th, 2013

Although she trained to be a teacher, Aileen Dacasin spent only a year in the classroom after graduation before pursuing another career path.

But it proved to be only a detour and the road she took eventually brought her back to teaching.

“I take my topping the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET) as providential,” said Dacasin, who was No. 1 in the exams for elementary teachers.

“God didn’t place me on top just for me to abandon teaching,” she said. She will continue to believe so “unless, of course, God Himself makes it clear to me that He wants me to be a mongha (nun) at this instant.”

A 2010 graduate of the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman, Dacasin had a rating of 89.8 percent to lead the 10,310 passers out of 37,117 examinees, according to the Professional Regulation Commission which released the results last month.

The topnotcher initially pursued a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics degree before moving to the College of Education to work for a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.

“After graduation, everybody went into teaching, so I told myself, I had to join the bandwagon. But I realized I wasn’t ready,” she said.

“I literally became a bum for a while since I didn’t want any commitment … I did tutoring. Then I decided to go back to my alma mater,” she said.

In 2011, Dacasin began teaching in the nursery-to-high school Mother of Divine Providence School in Marikina City. She left after a year to join a publishing company as a book editor.

The 25-year-old resigned in April but continued to contribute articles to the company’s supplementary educational magazine.

She then decided to go back to teaching. “I missed it,” she said. “Teaching is very fulfilling because you directly see whom you are serving. You directly give yourself to them.”

Dacasin said she hoped to balance writing and teaching as she prepared to start working next week for Paref (Parents for Education Foundation) Rosehill School in Antipolo City.

“I want to give myself a chance to understand how the Paref system works,” she said. “I believe that the parents are the first educators of their children. Teachers are only there to assist the parents.”

The Paref system recognizes parents as the primary educators and emphasizes the importance of parent-teacher collaboration in a child’s education, according to the academic organization’s website.

Dacasin explained that the system was about a community of parents helping each other. “Parenting is not usually everyone’s forte so parents need to learn from and help each other,” she said.

The teacher considers herself a “lifelong learner.” Philosopher Peter Kreeft is one of her heroes. She was still at UP when she first read Kreeft’s “Three Philosophies of Life.”

It was one of the most inspiring books, she said. “It makes you think about your philosophy in life and how you live your life.”

Among her other favorite books are Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree,” Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” and “Other Stories,” and J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings” trilogy and “The Silmarillion.”

Dacasin looks up to teachers like Socrates and Indian toy inventor Arvind Gupta who traveled to schools to share his love of science.

Her advice to those who will be taking the teacher’s board exams? “Look beyond the LET. See yourself as a teacher. How would you like to be? Which theories or principles will you uphold? What do you believe in?”

Sam Miguel
05-23-2013, 08:45 AM
CHEd to decide Monday on tuition hike petitions of 451 schools

By Dona Z. Pazzibugan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

7:30 pm | Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) will formally decide on Monday, May 27, whether to approve the application of 344 private colleges and universities to increase their tuition and other fees this school year.

The various CHEd regional offices have already forwarded their recommendation to the five-member Commission.

Initial reports that came out of the CHED said that of the 451 applications, the regional offices have approved the petitions of 344 and denied those of 107 that were not able to justify their plan to increase fees.

“That’s not yet official. We still have to meet en banc. But over 400 schools applied for tuition increase,” CHEd Chairperson Patricia Licuanan said in a news conference Wednesday during the CHEd anniversary celebration.

She would not say how many applications were endorsed to the CHED.

Classes will resume in June and most students have already enrolled by now.

No public colleges and universities will increase their tuition this school year.

Licuanan said it was understandable that private schools would eventually increase their student fees to keep the school running.

“What we try to do is keep the increase at a single digit, always aligned to the inflation rate, and it should not be on a regular basis. But they do have the right to increase fees, she said.

Under guidelines issued in 2012, CHEd had insisted that school administrators hold a public consultation with their stakeholders to explain the basis of their tuition increases.

The lack of public consultation would be a ground to deny the application.

Licuanan said they were expecting the consultation to be a “genuine dialogue.”

“But whether they should all agree, no; a consultation can be held but there are issues you will never have final agreement on,” she said.

Sam Miguel
05-23-2013, 10:37 AM
The SHS curriculum


By Isagani Cruz

(The Philippine Star) | Updated May 23, 2013 - 12:00am

During his campaign in 2010, Noynoy Aquino promised to take ten steps to upgrade Philippine education. The new K to 12 curriculum fulfils six of the ten points in his education agenda, namely:

• 12-Year Basic Education Cycle

• Universal Pre-Schooling for All

• Technical Vocational Education as an Alternative Stream in Senior High School

• Every Child a Reader by Grade 1

• Science and Math Proficiency, and

• Medium of Instruction Rationalized.

RA 10533 (Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013), which adds Grades 11 and 12 (Senior High School or SHS), fulfils the first promise. RA 10157 (Kindergarten Education Act), which requires all public school students to go through Kindergarten, fulfils the second promise; previously, pre-schooling was available only for some, not all, children. The Technical Education and Skills Development Academy (TESDA) now provides National Certificates (NCs) to students even in Junior High School (JHS), thus more than fulfilling the third promise.

With improved reading strategies in Grade 1, the new curriculum fulfils the fourth promise. The spiralling of science and mathematics education from Kindergarten to Grade 12 ensures that proficiency in these two learning areas will be improved, thus fulfilling the fifth promise.

Section 4 of RA 10533 mandates the use of the Mother Tongue as the primary medium of instruction from Grade 1 (therefore, also Kindergarten) to Grade 6, fulfilling the sixth promise. I shall discuss this provision fully in a future column.

In this column, let me follow the progress of three fictional students (Pedro, Pablo, and Maria) after Grade 10.

Things become very different for the three students when they reach Grade 11. They will still be taking common or “core” subjects, such as Oral Communication in English; Reading and Writing in English; Talastasang Filipino; Pagbasa, Pagsulat, Pananaliksik sa Wika; 21st Century Philippine Literature from the Regions; 21st Century Literatures of the World; Media and Information Literacy; General Mathematics; Statistics and Probability; Introduction to the Philosophy of the Human Person; Physics and Chemistry; Biology and Earth Science; Personal Development; and Understanding Society and Culture.

All three students may even be taking up electives in a foreign language, such as Arabic, French, German, Mandarin, and Spanish.

Unlike the other two students, however, Pedro (who wants to open his own game development company) will be taking subjects that will help him set up a business, program computers, and do storylines for games. That means that he will spend time preparing to get TESDA NC2s in entrepreneurship and computer programming. In addition, he will take electives in creative writing to help him plan out how characters in his games will behave. He will do all of these in Grade 11 and the first half of Grade 12.

During the afternoons or weekends in Grade 11 and in the first half of Grade 12, he will spend some time working in a game development company. (There are several such companies in the Philippines, some of them doing original games, some of them doing outsourced work for foreign companies.) In the last five months of Grade 12, he will immerse himself completely in that company. He will be doing what used to be known as On-the-Job Training (OJT). Because of various government regulations about OJTs, however, his stint in the company will be known simply as Immersion. In other words, he will sometimes not be on campus during Grade 11 and the first half of Grade 12 and will not be on campus at all during the second half of Grade 12.

Pablo (who wants to become a professional football player) will take subjects that will help him understand the physics and medicine of sports. He will also take some management and education subjects, because he will eventually stop being a professional player and start doing coaching or teaching. Of course, he will spend time during Grade 11 and the first half of Grade 12 in the gym or on the field, working under a coach. Like Pedro, he will not be on campus at all during the second half of Grade 12; instead, he will be training and competing full-time in football.

Unlike Pedro and Pablo, Maria (who wants to become an engineer) will be spending all of SHS on campus. She will taking a lot of specialized subjects to prepare for higher-level work in college, such as General Chemistry, Calculus-based General Physics, General Biology, Pre-Calculus, and Basic Calculus. (She looks forward to spending fewer years in college, because she will already have studied what today are studied only in college.)

If we generalize from the three examples, we can see that there are three TRACKS that students in SHS can choose from: Technical-Vocational-Livelihood (TVL for Pedro), Academic (for Maria), and Sports & Arts (for Pablo).

Each of these tracks offers different STRANDS for students. TVL consists of numerous TESDA courses. Students opting for Sports & Arts may specialize in Music, Dance, Film & Media, Visual Arts, Indigenous Art, Theater Writing, and so on.

The Academic track consists of three strands, namely, HESS (Humanities, Education, Social Sciences), STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, including the Health Sciences), and BAM (Business, Accountancy, Management).

In short, all SHS students, like Pedro, Pablo, and Maria, will start to do what they want to do the rest of their lives. (To be continued)

Sam Miguel
05-23-2013, 10:44 AM
^^^ The entry posted here was supposed to have been posted before the above entry.

The curriculum


By Isagani Cruz

(The Philippine Star) | Updated May 16, 2013 - 12:00am

Last week, I gave a general outline of what goes on in the K to 12 curriculum. Let us take three fictional children (Pedro, Pablo, and Maria) and see how each of them will go through the curriculum.

If they go to a private school, Pedro, Pablo, and Maria will most likely be taking Science as a subject in Grade 1. In a public school, science is integrated in all the other subjects. (The reasons for this difference are historical, not pedagogical, but we will tackle that issue – raised during the Senate hearings on the K to 12 bill – in some other column.)

Whether science is explicitly or implicitly taught, however, it will be taught in a spiral manner. That means that, as early as Grade 1, physics, statistics, and so on will be taught, but in such a small dose that pupils and parents will not even know that these are in the curriculum. In Grade 2, exactly the same topics will be taught, but on a little bit deeper level. Every grade level, the same topics will be tackled, but always from a broader or deeper perspective, until by the end of Grade 12, students will have such a sophisticated grasp of science that they will be ready for the research demanded by higher education.

The three children will take exactly the same subjects in exactly the same learning areas until they reach Grade 7. In Junior High School (JHS), they will start discovering what they are really good at (hence the word “Exploratory”). Schools will be very careful not to reinforce harmful societal stereotypes (Pedro and Pablo need not be wandering around the carpentry room while Maria handles the kitchenware). In our fictional story, let us suppose that Pedro wants eventually to open his own game development company, Pablo wants to become a professional football player, and Maria wants to become a mechanical engineer.

In JHS, Pedro will pay a lot of attention to the computer lessons offered by his school. He will be the class whiz when it comes to understanding software. He will be on all the social media. He will be borrowing (if he cannot afford them) all the latest gadgets of his classmates or neighbors. He can be found spending his weekends at an internet café, competing in online games.

He will compete in just about every intramural sport. He might be in one or more of the school teams. He will definitely be the school’s bet to win a medal at the Palarong Pambansa.

Maria will spend time in the workshop of the school or, if the school does not have a workshop, in her neighborhood automotive or electronic shop. She will be reading the textbooks in mathematics and science avidly and will top all the school tests in those areas. She will spend time in the chemistry and physics laboratories of the school, watching older students do experiments.

The three children will not earn any special certificate after they finish Grade 8. When they get to Grade 9, however, they will be seriously pursuing a National Certificate (NC) given by the Technical Education and Skills Development Academy (TESDA). An NC is proof that a person possesses certain job-related skills. The higher the NC, the more advanced the skills. An NC 3, for example, usually qualifies a person for a supervisory or managerial position. The highest NC that can be attained by a Grade 12 graduate is normally only NC 2, which is enough to land a middle-level job in a corporation or even to set up a small business.

In Grade 9 and Grade 10, both Pedro and Maria, who share the same interest in information technology, will probably take subjects such as Basic Computer Operation, Computer Hardware Servicing, and Hardware and Software Troubleshooting. They will not have much time to spend on the computer, however, because they will still have to study the usual academic subjects.

Pablo will not be spending too much time in front of a computer for a different reason. He will be honing his physical abilities. He might even enrol in a Pasibulan clinic held by the Philippine Football Federation in cooperation with the Department of Education (DepEd). He knows that his height is no hindrance to his ambition to become a world-class football player; after all, Pelé is 5’8”, Messi is 5’6”, and Ribery is 5’7”.

Since he will not be playing football forever, however, Pablo will take a TESDA course that will take advantage of his traveling abroad when he does become a professional player. He will take Tourism Promotions Services, Tour Guiding Services, or courses of that type. Like Pedro and Maria, Pablo will earn an NC 1 by the time he finishes Grade 10.

You can see how different the K to 12 curriculum is from the current (or just discarded) curriculum. Today, because President Aquino promised, as one of the ten points in his agenda for education, that there would be “technical education in high school,” DepEd is working closely with TESDA not only in the planning, but also in the implementation of the curriculum. (To be continued)

Sam Miguel
05-23-2013, 10:49 AM
Teaching interns and fresh grads to succeed in the workplace

(The Philippine Star) | Updated May 16, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - For most young adults, the leap from campus life to the workplace is a challenging transition. New graduates fail to realize that it’s not how much they know that is important to an employer. But their understanding of how much they still have to learn -- and their willingness to learn it that employers want to see, according to studies.

Early exposure to real-world situations

For this reason, early exposure to real-world situations in their chosen career paths boost the success of their graduates in the work place, observe professors at St. Paul University Quezon City. While a particular course prepares them to learn the required basic skills, the experience of dealing with “live” clients also instills in them the right learning attitudes early on, according to Guiomar Gutierrez, SPUQC’s Tourism program chairman.

A Tourism undergraduate at SPUQC, for instance, will have arranged and conducted a pilgrimage, a tour to Bohol with air, land and sea transfers as well as a foreign tour for flesh-and-blood customers, and not just case-study subjects, by the time he or she is fourth year. “That kind of experience allows us to show them how to serve clients,” she says. “After all, a service course is not just taught. We succeed in instilling a strong customer orientation among students by illustrating to them how it is done – one set of clients at a time.”

By the second term of their graduating year, tourism students are required to do a practicum for a firm in their industry. Consequently, many of the students usually have job offers by the time they leave school. All that on-the-job training will have taught them how to be realistic about what they can do and to overcome the folly of a false sense of importance and capability common to many graduates. By the time they leave the campus, they would have learned they need to work well with others in any organization to get the right results and that results matter the most.

This kind of orientation to real-life work situations has made the Tourism course, Hotel and Restaurant Management, and other service-oriented courses at SPUQC among the most popular. The students’ education is further supported by a host of learning laboratories in the school such as a mini hotel with rooms, a fully-equipped culinary center with its own function rooms for HRM students, a mock-up of an intensive care unit for nursing students, as well as TV and radio studios for mass communication pupils. All these further facilitate on the job training and learning.

The former all-girls college in the 60’s and ‘70s has not only opened its doors to males but now also offers a wide range of courses drawing from its integration in 2004 into the St. Paul University System consisting of seven campuses nationwide. Sr. Ma. Nilda Masirag, president of the school, explains that the university system allows the sharing of human and other resources among the campuses. This, in addition to all its facilities, has helped the Quezon City campus take on the “vibrance of the bigger St. Paul University campuses in Iloilo, Dumaguete and Tuguegarao.”

Entrepreneurial skills development

But due to its prime location in the biggest business and commercial center of the country, Metro Manila, the Quezon City campus offers students unique experiences. The BS Entrepreneurship Course in the Quezon City university, for instance, has an edge over other campuses because its enrollees get to test their skills in a prime mall with an impressive number of shoppers visiting daily. For the past three years, St. Paul’s fledgling entrepreneurs have been selling their products at a Robinsons Land mall – Galleria in the first two years of the program, and at Robinson’s Magnolia just last February.

Lolita Albit, college faculty of Business Administration, explains that SPUQC third and fourth year students are required not just to source and sell goods but to also undergo the strict screening process all Robinsons’ merchants are subjected to. “The quality and appearance of their products are screened. They must also defend their price points,” she says. After a grueling one month of being on their feet personally to push their products to mall goers, the students are graded. Their score is based on their work attitudes as reflected by their attendance, and also by the net sales. Results, after all, are what matter.

“It’s a good first taste of an entrepreneur’s life for the students,” observes Albit. It’s also a good first step to being a life-long learner, a key trait of most successful entrepreneurs.

Sam Miguel
05-28-2013, 01:09 PM
The richness of learning

By Richard Cohen, Tuesday, May 28, 7:31 AM E-mail the writer

President Jones, members of the faculty, assorted notables, proud parents and financially indebted graduates. I come before you on this auspicious day to say something about the degree you have just been awarded. You have been told it is not worth the papyrus it is printed on. I am here to tell you it is worth a fortune.

In preparing for this commencement speech, I assembled a file of newspaper stories about the cost of college, the burden of student debt and how much you can expect to earn in your first year after graduation — assuming, of course, that you can even find a job. The numbers are daunting. Unless you are graduating from one of those name-brand elite institutions — Harvard, Yale, etc. — you’re probably not going to make much your first year out. In fact, we now have many examples of community college graduates earning more than those with bachelor’s degrees. In Virginia, the difference can be $20,000 a year.

What’s more, people often come out of school burdened with debt — about $24,810 on average, but an astounding $41,230 in Washington, D.C., where many residents have advanced degrees. This is hardly small change, of course, but aside from Washington, we are talking the price of a new car — without the premium package. This is a debt your average young person gladly takes on without whining to Congress. I add that just to provide some perspective and get you riled up.

The figures concerning salaries and debt are not to be dismissed. But they, too, need some perspective. College, after all, is not solely about earning power — although you are forgiven for not knowing this. College, believe it or not, is about education — and that, boys and girls, is not something you can put a number on. Let me give you a word: anthropology.

This is a word I’m not sure I ever heard in high school. But when I got to college, I had to take a year of it to satisfy a science requirement. I did one semester of physical anthropology and one of cultural — and about 40 years of both ever since. I became enthralled with the study of evolution, with paleontology, with my pal Australopithecus africanus and with the “sexing” and “racing” of skulls. Give me a good skull and to this day I can give you the sex and the race of the dearly deceased. I was CSI Cohen before there was CSI anything.

I still keep up with anthropology. I try to stay somewhat current in sociology and psychology, my major and minor before I lost my way and took up journalism — and I do these things not for credit but for fun. College taught me how to have fun with knowledge. It enriched my life in ways that cannot be quantified. I came out of college with a debt, but my real debt was to my professors.

When I wanted to become a writer, I found teachers who showed me how. One of them, John Tebbel, a former newspaperman turned author, took me aside. He praised. He criticized. This is how it’s done, kid. The man changed my life.

See, this is the part of college no one talks about anymore. It’s all about numbers — what it costs and what you can earn. It’s all about a financial investment — how much in and how much out, as if value is always about money. But there’s value in the discovery of fine art or cinema or literature or . . . anthropology. And — very important — you will get an overview of the world, not just your little area but all the rest. This will make you a better citizen, which is nice, and will give you greater control of your life, which is also nice.

About a month ago, a hostess at a dinner party asked the table what college had done for them. Absolutely nothing, one person instantly responded. I braced for a cascade of negativity, but to my surprise it never came. Guest after guest praised their education and how it had made them a richer, happier person. I was gratified.

I know what you’re thinking: It’s fine for you to say, Cohen. You’ve got yours. You’re not poor and scratching for a job. True enough. But you will find truth in the cliche that money cannot buy happiness. This has been the case for thousands of years — or, as I like to put it, since Australopithecus africanus.

You can Google that.

Sam Miguel
05-29-2013, 08:26 AM

By Michael L. Tan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:20 pm | Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

That means senior high school or Grades 11 and 12, the two additional years in our new K to 12 (kindergarten to Grade 12) basic education.

Those who entered Grade 7 last school year (2012-13) will be the first to be required the additional two years of SHS. This means they will do Grade 11 in 2016-17 and Grade 12 in 2017-18. That seems like a long way off, but we all be better prepared for the many challenges.

By “we,” I mean parents and others who will have to put children through SHS, as well as educational institutions. It will not just be high schools but also colleges and universities, which is why the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy at the University of the Philippines Diliman focused on this issue during our faculty conference last week.

We had two resource speakers who oriented us to these new challenges: Dr. Maria Serena Diokno of the UP history department and currently seconded as chair of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, and Dr. Marilou Nicolas, UP Diliman assistant vice president who talked on the Asean integration scheduled in 2015. (I won’t touch on this topic except to say that the proposed integration will include students being able to study in other Asean countries’ schools with reciprocal recognition of credits.)

The K to 12 program is now a law and we have to find ways to make it work. We owe it to the students and their parents to make the additional two years worthwhile.


On their part, parents and guardians will have to set SHS as a horizon, helping their children or wards to plan for the not very distant future. What will happen is that by Grade 10, students and their parents should be prepared to make a decision as to whether they will go on to one of three options: 1) technical/vocational, 2) sports and arts, and 3) academic. The last option is what leads to college, with students having to choose from three streams: 1) humanities/education/social science, 2) science/technology/engineering/math, or 3) business/accounting/management.

There will be differences in SHS subjects, even schools, depending on what options the students take. Some schools will specialize in technical/vocational subjects, which should, in principle, produce graduates who will be ready to work right after SHS. I’ve seen all kinds of proposals for this SHS track, from teachers’ aides to bartenders and tour guides, and I’m hoping the Department of Education will issue clearer guidelines soon on the offerings. We have seen the rise and fall of too many “flavor of the month” short courses—for example, “caregiver” programs—trying to cash in on fleeting demands.

This tech/voc track does carry potential, especially if it can be integrated into ladderized degree programs. For example, someone who finishes teacher’s aide training in SHS may work for a few years, and then decide to go back to college to train as a teacher, with some of the teacher’s aide training in SHS recognized for credit. Some educational institutions, notably the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, already has such programs where someone may start out to train as an office clerk, then go to work, then return to PUP for more units to become an IT operator. All these courses presently require a high school diploma. In the SHS system, we may just see some of the initial steps in the “ladder” incorporated into SHS.

I’ve seen very little information on the sports and arts track, but I suspect what will happen is that this track will be mainly oriented to those who will compete in sporting events or, for the arts, certain crafts. A college degree in the humanities stream will still be an option for those who want to become coaches and performing arts mentors, or who pursue an academic career in universities as researchers and teachers.

The third track, the academic, is an expansion of what we have now in high schools as well as in the first two years of college (for example, history, ethics, sociology, psychology). Note that the course titles will not use these specific tags because the subjects will be integrated or “blended,” meaning one subject will already have elements of sociology and psychology. The natural sciences and math subjects will also be “blended,” so that students will get algebra, geometry, statistics and calculus.

The academic track is quite complicated, with students’ decisions about college determining what they will take in SHS. For example, students who want to go on to engineering in college will have more exposure to math.

At the height of the debates around the proposed K to 12, one of the arguments used for an additional two years was that our students were graduating from high school too young, usually around the age of 16, which meant they would have to make career choices quite early.


In the new system, students will be graduating from senior high school at the age of 18, presumably more mature. But we see, too, that students are still being asked to make even more complicated decisions: tech/voc or sports and arts, or one of the three streams for the academic? The academic track has raised the most concerns among college educators. There is talk about how UP’s entrance exams will have to be modified for the different streams.

Then there’s the problem of the students’ choices. What happens if a student chooses the “humanities/education/social science” option in SHS then decides, in Grade 12, that he or she wants to enter engineering? With less exposure to math, that could affect their ability to get into a college engineering course.

All these concerns will be tackled, together with the even more daunting tasks of crafting the SHS subjects. The universities are also being asked now to revise our courses because the SHS graduates will, we all hope, no longer need basic courses in the social and natural sciences, and in math. Supposedly, the general education courses in college will move from a content focus (memorizing facts) to one that emphasizes skills of analysis and synthesis.

There were all kinds of questions that cropped up at our faculty conference last week—for example, will there be college admissions in 2016 and 2017? The answer there is yes, because some private schools have been on track with 12-year basic education even before it was required. That’s a small number of students, though, and it is not until 2021 that we will go back to having a full complement of students in all years. (In 2018, for example, we will start to get more freshmen, but will still have a tiny number of sophomores.)

But the most urgent challenges are in the formulation of new subjects and in training enough people to teach these subjects. I tend to look at these developments from the perspective of a biologist, the senior high schools forming “ecotones,” or environments that have mixed “ecological” characteristics—that of a high school and that of college. Ecotones are usually zones of opportunities, allowing the emergence of new forms of life. Likewise, our SHS can be environments for innovation, with students allowed to be more independent and linked to the outside world.

* * *

Sam Miguel
05-29-2013, 08:56 AM
Again, the role of sports in education


By Philip Ella Juico

(The Philippine Star) | Updated May 29, 2013 - 12:00am

With classes opening next week, heightened attention is given to our educational system and the implementation of the most radical yet long-delayed innovation in elementary education: the K+12 curriculum.

The introduction of K+12 is one of the major developments in the country’s education sector, the other one, among many, the creation of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). From that point on, CHED was given responsibility for collegiate and graduate education leaving primary and secondary education to the Department of Education Culture and Sports or DECS which became simply Department of Education or DepEd.

While some sectors did not find the creation of the CHED necessary, we are one of those who fully agree with the dichotomy for the simple reason that the two offices have different clients and constituents and needs. One can just imagine the burden on one organization of implementing the K+12 and other equally important initiatives in collegiate and graduate education.

Those of us who are keen observers of school sports view the introduction of K+12 with interest as we observe how it will impact physical education (PE), it being the foundation of all sports and wellness activities in school.

The place of PE in K+12 was hotly debated when the K+12 law was being discussed with PE teachers, scholars and the few practitioners weighing in with their valuable comments and insights. Best practice from all over the world was surfaced as reference points of what other countries are trying to do to ensure that PE becomes imbedded in school curricula and people create a lifelong commitment to physical activity and wellness.

One of the valuable materials that could have been used (if it did not find its way into the debate then) is an article in BBC News UK Politics that quoted London Mayor Boris Johnson urging two hours of PE a day. It will be recalled that London hosted the 2012 Summer Olympics. Just like all hosts of an undertaking of such a magnitude, authorities wanted to ensure that the event would leave a legacy and the positive benefits from hosting the games be institutionalized to justify the millions of British pounds spent on the event.

Johnson said that school children should be made to do two hours of sport a day as part of the Olympic legacy. It was clear that the Mayor wanted to build on the public’s renewed appetite for sports, adding that it would be “wonderful for kids across the country”, according to the BBC News.

Johnson emphasized “(the British) government totally understands people’s appetite for this. They can see the benefits of sport and what it does for young people.”

Johnson said that “They understand very, very clearly the social and economic advantages. I would like to see, frankly, the kind of regime I used to enjoy – compulsory two hours’ sports every day. I’ve no doubt that is the sort of thing that would be wonderful for kids across the country. It is of profound importance for the happiness and success of this country that we have more sport in schools.”

Other credible and authoritative personalities have also voiced their agreement. In the same report, BBC News said that Dane Tess Jowell, Culture Secretary at the time London won the Olympic bid, told BBC Radio 4’s Today program she wanted a “very clear agreement that a chunk of time every week would be set aside for children to play sports. She also urged all parties to sign up to a 10-year school sports plan.”

Jewell reminded British society that it had a commitment to fulfill in exchange for London being entrusted with the huge responsibility of hosting the 2012 Games, “We promised in Singapore, when we won the bid, that we would inspire a generation and that would be creating sport as part of every child’s life; life changing and something we’d never done before in that concerted way.“

Jewell stated that one of the reasons the Olympics have been so successful is that in their planning and execution, all parties have worked together in the national interest and built a national consensus about how to deliver the Olympics. She added, “that sense of unity of purpose should be applied to delivering this legacy.”

The United Kingdom and the Philippines are no exceptions when it comes to the budget for sport being one of the many victims of the pruning knife. The BBC News reported that in 2010, the government faced criticism from teachers and athletes when it cut funding for the School Sports Partnership program.

Certainly, a lot more debate will ensue on the role of sport in the primary curriculum given limited resources and the urgency of adding more emphasis to subjects like science, mathematics and English, if we want to be globally competitive. Let that debate continue with practical experience people taking part.

Sam Miguel
05-30-2013, 09:33 AM
The teacher’s code of ethics and moral responsibility


By Preciosa S. Soliven

(The Philippine Star) | Updated May 30, 2013 - 12:00am

Before the school opens in June we would usually ask school experts to address both old and new teachers. So this time we asked Peter Sing, a financial consultant, and Atty. Ulan Sarmiento, our school legal counsel and member of the board of trustee. Mr. Sing gave tips on setting aside savings instead of spending before saving, discouraging unnecessary use of credit cards and possibility of investments. Atty. Sarmiento reviewed the teacher’s code of ethics and emphasized the importance of preserving one’s integrity.

He started saying, “Often times we hear persons addressing certain individuals as “your honor” or referring to them as “honorable”. But do they really deserve the title or respect? As defined, the term “honorable” is an adjective showing great respect or self-respect. In the United States “honorable” is a courtesy title applied to persons of distinction in legal or civic life. It refers therefore to a person known of high moral integrity. Considering the definition, I have to admit that there is one person whose profession highly entitles him or her to be addressed “your honor” – the teacher.”

“Let me prove to you why. The Code of Ethics for Professional Teachers issued by the Board for Professional Teachers through Resolution No. 435 series of 1997 provides in the PREAMBLE that Teachers are duly licensed professionals who possess dignity and reputation with high moral values as well as technical and professional competence.”

The school inspector general

there comes a time when some teachers’ integrity is seriously questioned so that school lawyers are summoned to establish whether the child’s mentor is guilty or not.

In the ‘80s the former US Clark Air Force Defense Schools would invite Filipino school directors to their annual workshop, “Educators Working Together.” I benefited much attending the workshop where the lead speaker was the Asia Pacific US Defense Department School Inspector General. A lawyer, he would regularly visit the 17 Department of Defense (DOD) schools in the Pacific area to judge the various cases of teachers brought up by parents or school administrators. By then, our 15-year-old O.B. Montessori schools had less than a hundred teachers as compared to the current 400 faculty members/personnel in the four O.B. Montessori Schools.

The Inspector General kindly showed me the basic procedure or “due process” of notifying teachers of their errors. This consists of a maximum of three written notices. The first cites the wrongdoing of the teachers, the day and time this was observed, and how the student‘s right was violated. She is given a chance to respond in writing and a month’s time to correct the error. The second is given when the error persists with three penalty options: a warning of demotion, shift in the job or termination. If the misbehavior still persists, the third notice announces the demotion or termination of the teacher.

My administrative staff and I make sure that the rules and regulations and code of conduct of the school are printed in the O.B. Montessori Center employees’ handbook. The school is guided as well by the Code of Ethics for Professional Teachers. We also have the pink manual for parents. In addition, we have the Environmental Care Office (ECO) manual detailing how to maintain the environment of the school, including the maintenance and order of the school buildings.

School contracts

Using the Montessori system, all teachers, whether they have recently finished college or already experienced, have to be re-trained before being employed at the O.B. Montessori schools. Even then, they must first pass a battery of tests to gauge their IQ, teaching aptitude and maturity.

Before being presented to the school president for final interview, the teachers have to sign a letter of intent that they are willing to undergo the Montessori Teacher Formation Course. This letter states that they must prove their efficiency for two to four weeks before undergoing an intense theoretical and practical training. It is part of a two-year Scholarship Agreement with the school: one year on-the-job-training on Montessori system of education and one more year of service contract. To ensure faithful compliance to this agreement, a scholarship bond will be deducted from their salary for one year. This scholarship bond will be given back to them upon fulfillment of this two-year contract.

Teachers must undergo a three-year probationary period, according to the law. This matches the gradual acquisition of Montessori competence as a Novice on the first year, a junior teacher on the second year, and a senior teacher on the third year, enabling the teacher to rise in the ranks and be compensated according to the merits. Usually, senior teachers have added responsibilities and higher positions. The starting pay of novice teacher inclusive of allowances is being finalized in time for the opening of the school year. Definitely, the compensation package will be more than what our public counterpart is receiving. Their children are also given Montessori scholarships.

A 10-month Teacher’s Contract is signed yearly. The annual renewal of contract, however, is dependent on their proven competence, efficiency and ethical conduct. After finishing three uninterrupted school years of satisfactory service, a teacher can be considered “permanent” or eligible, to be paid for a total of 13 months.

The professional teacher has a lifetime commitment

The school expects a teacher to be faithful in service. Oftentimes some teachers suddenly resign to seek “greener” pastures without sufficient notice to the school administration. To avoid this predicament, OBMC sends out Year-end Questionnaire about each teacher’s short term and long range plan, specifically for coming school year – their willingness to continue to teach or plan not to pursue their teaching in the school. The result of this survey will serve as the basis of the school in its recruitment program for the coming school year. An affirmative answer to the questionnaire includes a Letter of Request to Teach for the coming school year.

After a thorough deliberation, all teachers accepted to teach for the coming year shall be given a Letter of Acceptance wherein their commitment to teach for another school year is acknowledged officially.

Some conflicts between parents and teachers

A protective parent referred a case to her lawyer against Mrs. Maria Ramos (fictitious name), the teacher of her Grade III daughter. She alleged that on so many occasions, Mrs. Maria Ramos traumatized her daughter. This caused her daughter not to report for class for a long period of time, exceeding the 20 percent allowed by the Department of Education. Further investigations revealed that the child was emotionally affected by the death of her grandmother. She became so sensitive that strict guidance and instructions of her teachers would upset her.

The parent insisted that the school management terminate Mrs. Ramos. This was denied since the rights of the teacher must also be protected. If the parent is not happy with the school, they have the option to transfer their child to another school. She did so.

Concerning outings, Romy Romero, a high school teacher, organized a swimming party with the students outside the school premises without the knowledge and permission of school authorities. On the day that the group was to leave the school, the branch coordinator saw them and asked where they were going. When she learned that they are about to leave for a swimming party led by this teacher, the Branch Coordinator stopped them. Instead, she allowed them to “party” inside the school premises. The teacher was given disciplinary warning for his disregard of school policies.

A worse case happened when a PE and Scouting teacher extended a Makiling camping for another day in Nasugbu. The teacher was also reprimanded since all outings require the official approval of the school and permit slips signed by parents.

On tutoring and examinations

Official teacher-tutors usually get a share of the tutorial fee. In our case, that would be eighty percent. School supervision is absolutely needed because tutoring is only a remedial course and therefore should not last longer than a few months.

Ethics, however, is violated when tutoring is privately arranged. First, the parents leave their responsibilities to an outsider – the tutor. Since this is privately arranged, it is not monitored by the guidance personnel who can gauge if the child is already capable of studying by himself. Thus, it can happen that some tutors practically do the child’s homework, consequently crippling the student’s initiative for a lifetime.

Our lawyer was consulted when a head teacher, privy to the quarterly exam papers, gave these to the students she was tutoring. She was terminated. Today, she runs a school. On another occasion, a school janitor assisting at the mimeographing office was caught regularly selling copies of the exam papers to a high school student who was failing. He was incarcerated in the local jail.

Humble admission of a teacher

As a young teacher admitted, in Dr.Haim G. Ginott’s book “Teacher and Child , “ I have come to a frightening conclusion. I am the decisive element in the classroom. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher I possess tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated, and a child humanized or de-humanized.”

Sam Miguel
05-30-2013, 09:34 AM
K to 12 outcomes


By Isagani Cruz (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 30, 2013 - 12:00am

The K to 12 curriculum is outcomes-based. That is the simplest way to describe it. That is how we can view this diagram from the Department of Education (DepEd):

Students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 are being prepared for one or more of the following outcomes: higher education, middle level skills development, entrepreneurship, and employment.
Let us start with the academic outcome.

On October 28, 2011, the Commission on Higher Education promulgated a set of specific standards (competencies, knowledge, skills) that all incoming college students should have. These are called College Readiness Standards (CRS). They cover the following learning areas: English, Filipino, Literature, Humanities, Mathematics, Social Studies, and Science.

Here is an example of a Content Standard in Mathematics: “After 12 years of pre-university education, a student wishing to enter college should know the Measures of Central Tendency.”

Here is an example of a Performance Standard: “After 12 years of pre-university education, a student wishing to enter college should be able to find the mean, median and mode of ungrouped statistical data.”

As a response, DepEd formulated corresponding content and performance standards in the K to 12 curriculum. DepEd wants to ensure that all Senior High School (SHS) graduates are qualified to pursue a college degree. The first outcome of the new curriculum is for all students to be qualified for higher education.

In our example of the three fictional students, Pedro will be prepared to enroll in a bachelor’s degree in animation because he will already have a National Certificate (NC) in Animation by the time he finishes Grade 12.

Pablo will be ready to take a course such as A.B. Sports Management, because he will have personally experienced being a full-time player in SHS.

Maria will be ready to take an engineering course, because she will have taken the necessary preparatory mathematics and science subjects in SHS.

The curriculum also ensures that students who do not foresee going to college immediately (that is, those students that will join the world of work directly after Grade 12) will have the necessary skills to take on, at the very least, middle level tasks. These tasks may be within a company of their own (thus, entrepreneurship) or an established company (thus, employment). The curriculum, therefore, also aims at the other three outcomes.

Pedro, for example, if he does not go to college immediately but decides to spend all his time putting up his game development company, will already have NCs in Animation and Entrepreneurship, both of which will be important for him to run a small enterprise. He will know enough to create a narrative for a game, enough to do animation for a foreign company if he decides to be an outsourcer, and enough to handle the business planning for his three or four employees.

Needless to say, if he wants to expand his company into a big player in the game development industry, he will need to go to college to get more training in IT and perhaps even a business management degree. He can do this after earning enough money to go to college full-time. More likely, in order not to give up his business, he will enroll in evening or weekend college subjects as a part-time student. Either way, he will have taken the subjects in SHS that will give him the CRS to pass college entrance examinations.

Pablo, on the other hand, will have competed in national, perhaps even international competitions. After Grade 12, he can apply immediately to become a member of the Azkals. Once he becomes too old or too slow to be of use to the team, he can return to formal studies. Like Pedro, he will be able to pass college admission tests.

Maria, of course, will go directly to college. Having opted for the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) track in SHS, she will have no problem being admitted into an engineering degree program. If something happens to her family’s finances, however (for example, if her OFW parents have to return to the Philippines due to war or disease), she has the option of postponing college and temporarily earning a living in a middle-level job. For example, she can be a technician in a laboratory, since she will already have spent quite an amount of time being immersed in laboratory work in SHS. If her family has, say, a computer or automotive repair shop, she can take over the management of the shop, because she would have earned an NC1 in Junior High School (JHS).

In other words, all three students will have three options to choose from when they finish Grade 12. They can opt to be employees immediately if they wish or if they are forced to. They can start a company of their own if they have the aptitude and the capital. They can go to college immediately or eventually. (To be continued)

06-01-2013, 12:00 PM
Let SC decide tuition hike issue–CHEd

By Dona Z. Pazzibugan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:51 am | Saturday, June 1st, 2013

The Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) said it would welcome a ruling from the Supreme Court on the extent of government regulation over tuition increases in private schools.

Militant groups’ going to the high court to stop tuition hikes in 354 private colleges and universities should settle the issue of what the legal basis is for private schools to increase their fees, said CHEd Chair Patricia Licuanan.

“It will settle a lot of issues. They seem to question the legality, the legal basis for schools to raise tuition. I would be happy that it will be settled once and for all,” Licuanan said yesterday.

She said that CHEd, the agency that oversees higher education institutions (HEIs) in the country, tries to strike a balance between ensuring access to higher education and the right of private schools to raise fees to sustain operations.

“From our end we have always recognized that it is their (the schools’) right. The law allows them to do that, we cannot stop them as long as they do these consultations,” she said.

“But if the Supreme Court says ‘no, it’s illegal’ or ‘you can stop them,’ then that settles things for us,” she said.

CHEd had approved the application for increases in tuition and school fees of 354 private colleges and universities, out of the 451 schools that asked for them.

This represents 21 percent of the 1,683 higher education institutions in the country, excluding those in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

CHEd said that, on average, the tuition will increase by P37.45 per unit, or 8.5 percent, while other school fees will increase by P194.62, or 7.58 percent.

Section 42 of Batas Pambansa 232, or the Education Act of 1982, provides that “each private school shall determine its rate of tuition and other school fees or charges … subject to rules and regulations” promulgated by the government agencies concerned, in the case of CHEd, for higher education institutions.

CHEd regulations on tuition hikes are spelled out in two memorandum orders, issued in 1998 and 2012, which require HEIs to allocate 70 percent of the incremental increase in tuition to salaries of school personnel, 20 percent to facilities improvement and operations and 10 percent for profit, if the school is a stock corporation.

The CHEd also requires schools to hold a public consultation to justify the fee increases.

In a petition filed last Wednesday, the Kabataan party-list and the National Union of Students of the Philippines asked the high court to issue a temporary restraining order against the latest round of tuition increases.

They questioned the constitutionality of the two CHEd memorandums covering tuition hikes, claiming “both law and regulation do not constitute reasonable regulation and supervision of all educational institutions as required by the 1987 Constitution.”

06-01-2013, 12:01 PM
License to practice

By Edilberto C. de Jesus

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:59 pm | Friday, May 31st, 2013

The midterm elections gave fresh college graduates a momentary distraction from the overriding concern: landing a job. For many still unemployed, finding employment proper to their degrees requires surmounting another hurdle: passing government licensure examinations.

Breaching this barrier, intended to test their professional readiness to serve as lawyers, CPAs, even teachers, is not easy. Bar exams take the most casualties. The 2012 exam recorded the lowest success rate in 13 years, with less than 18 percent of 5,094 takers passing, and only because the Supreme Court dropped the passing rate to 70 percent.

Had the 75-percent hurdle been maintained, only 361 takers would have passed. But the high court decided that a bar success rate below 8 percent was unacceptable. In exercising clemency, the Supreme Court, according to the Inquirer, followed its “tradition of lowering the passing mark every year.” Associate Justice Martin

Villarama Jr., chair of the 2012 exam committee, said that its judicial intervention in fixing a lower passing rate was “following history” and was also made “in the spirit of the Lenten season.”

For a body highly protective of its reputation, the explanation did not enhance its public image. Why is Lent an excuse for lowering the bar for would-be lawyers? And what is the logic in observing a “tradition” of dropping the passing rate? Cynics will see the management of the bar exam as a metaphor for a judicial system open to arbitrary manipulation.

Justice Villarama suggested that the multiple choice questions, which even he found confusing, might have contributed to the lower passing rate. Perhaps the Supreme Court should get some help from professionals who are trained in developing evaluation instruments.

Flaws in the exam design offer only one of the possible explanations for the low passing rate. It should also be the easiest to fix. But addressing the problem will require the assistance of professionals with the proper expertise.

An obvious plausible explanation poses the more challenging concern: Schools are failing miserably to prepare their students for the practice of law. Francis Lim, corporate lawyer and law professor, has concluded in his Inquirer column (Business, 4/22/13) that this accounts for the dismal bar performance.

Looking at the results of bar exams between 2003 and 2012, Lim noted that only one out of the country’s 118 law schools maintained a 75-percent passing rate. In five of the 10 years, 16 schools failed to produce a single bar passer and 45 others recorded a passing rate of between 1 percent and 25 percent.

Closing down substandard schools is not easy, as the Commission on Higher Education discovered when it tried to clean up the nursing education sector. Fortunately, the Legal Education Board (LEB), which now oversees the law schools, appears less vulnerable to legal and political pressures. The LEB has closed down six underperforming law schools. It is awaiting the reply of about 30 more law schools why they deserve to remain open.

The other licensure examinations and the schools that prepare students for them also need review and reassessment. More students take and fail the licensure examination for teachers, which is required for teaching positions in primary and secondary schools, than the bar exam. In the last exam, 50,000 out of 75,550 examinees failed.

The Department of Education recently announced that it needed to field over 61,000 teachers by the opening of schools next month just to fill the shortage from previous years. Most of the 2,000 public and private higher education institutions in the country offer education programs, but the DepEd anticipates problems in finding qualified applicants.

These examinations for professional practice are high-stake events for which young men and women invest substantial funds to support years of classroom sessions, plus six or more months of review courses. The results will permanently mark the career and life of those who fail to make the grade. Consider the waste of resources and the tragic consequences if airlines could safely land less than 50 percent of the planes they send aloft.

Because they are such career game-changers, these tests also exert an inordinate degree of influence on the conduct of the educational process itself. The danger lies in the temptation for schools to teach to the test. We know these tests are hard to pass. Are they testing for the right competencies?

The knowledge economy, the globalized marketplace, and the more comprehensive concept of human security have raised complex social, political and environmental issues that are changing modern-day transactions among peoples and institutions. We need reassurance that the licensure examinations actually promote into the professions those who can function effectively in the 21st-century environment.

This objective requires greater transparency in how licensure examinations are constructed, corrected and scored. Testing becomes meaningful and fair after we ensure that our schools are providing the appropriate curriculum and the pedagogy our professionals need.

06-01-2013, 12:02 PM
Teaching for tomorrow

By Theresita V. Atienza

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:57 pm | Friday, May 31st, 2013

The trainers and facilitators were much younger than the participants. As they were introduced, we craned our necks and did the math: Some were half our age, others as old as our years in teaching. They asked, “How many years have you guys been teaching?” with their American accent. Then we were instructed to go to certain sections of the room based on the length of our teaching experience. Several of us, including myself, were at the farthest end of the room, having taught for over 25 years. We were instructed to shout “weaw” (for wow) from time to time. And, we genially followed. We made fun of our situation.

We were practically “voluntold” to attend the Service Management Program Teachers’ Camp jointly organized by the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) and the Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (Ibpap), and an air of mixed feelings pervaded among the participants from Cavite State University, with 26 representatives of its various campuses, Laguna State Polytechnic University, with 47 delegates, and 16 lean and mean participants from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP). At times we could feel our trainers groping through our inquisitiveness and maneuvering their way around our impatience over the protracted orientations. Yet we soldiered on, eager to be reconfigured through the Service Management Program. It could not just have been our pioneering spirit that motivated us to wake up at 4:30 a.m. every training day and show up at the Asia Pacific College for the duration of the teachers’ camp. Perhaps it was the idea of writing history as the first batch to be certified on service management for business process outsourcing.

We were divided into specialization tracks—BPO Fundamentals, Business Communications, Language Training, Systems Thinking, and Service Culture. In the afternoon of the second day, we went for a site visit to member-organizations of Ibpap. It was a revelation for us to witness how our graduates go through the process of recruitment, the training provided prior to their employment, the company programs and provisions they enjoy, as well as the career path they can traverse.

At the company we visited, an alumna of PUP was recruited fresh from her graduation. While she jovially shared her earlier stories of inexperience, she beamed with pride that after having served the company for almost 10 years, she is now a business development manager. The upward mobility was evident not only in the way she dressed but also in the confidence she exuded.

On the third day, we were ushered into the computer laboratory rooms to take the Global Competitiveness Assessment Tool (GCAT). It could have been the first time that some of us were taking computer-mediated examinations but none of us buckled. The GCAT is one of several tests given to applicants in the IT-BPM (information technology and business process management) industry, and we took the examination to have a firsthand experience of how our graduates are evaluated.

I attended the Service Culture course and I am most certainly glad I did. Well, the other tracks seemed to have a good time, too, what with all the causal loops they had to do and explain in the Systems Thinking track, the practices in English communication by the Business Communication and Language Training tracks, and the theories and exercises in the IT-BPM track.

In the Service Culture track, we drew lots on the module that each of us would micro-teach. We mirthfully played games, role-played, and satirized customer-service situations. Through the laughter and banter, we learned quite a few things. Having been irate customers ourselves at one time or another, we realized that a frontline customer service job is not easy, and thus we should aptly prepare our students. We resolved not only to be better or relevant teachers to our students but to be kind and gracious individuals as well.

The Service Culture track was not just customer-centric training. It was a drill on kindness, generosity and good-naturedness. The track was a reminder of the service nature of the teaching profession as well. It was definitely a refresher course that grounded us once again on the idea that teaching is as much about methodology as it is with the subject matter.

What is our takeaway from our Service Culture track? Several. Young as they were, our facilitators Mike and Deng Lopez were willing to share their proficiency in the IT-BPM industry with us and humbly took note of our teaching experience and expertise. Teachers are most precious for their willingness to do a role-reversal and learn new things to add to their teaching toolbox. Teaching our students to be service-oriented is teaching them on good citizenship—global yet Filipino.

How did we feel about our Level One certification? Excited is an understatement. Euphoric is a bit too much. Empowered is more like it. We are grateful that our universities’ partnership with CHEd and Ibpap will enable us to teach our students to be ready not only for the jobs available today but also for the jobs that will be available tomorrow.

06-02-2013, 08:39 AM

By Randy David

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:36 pm | Saturday, June 1st, 2013

Invited to give the keynote speech at the 7th National Social Science Congress the other day, I welcomed the occasion not as a celebration of the work we have done but as a cue to allow the next generation to shine. The congress had “Generations” for its theme. I spoke about the political oligarchies that rule our country, but prefaced this with a light self-referential reflection on what it means to deal with the burden of genealogy. Below are excerpts of the personal part of these remarks:

Shortly after I retired from full-time teaching in 2011, I began to be introduced as Kara David’s father. In academic circles, on the other hand, young students were wont to ask if I was the father of Dr. CP David, my geologist-son.

Of course, it is with no small amount of ironic pride that I accept this implied demotion, recalling how, not too long ago, my children must have felt annoyed when they were not being acknowledged for what they could do as their own persons, because of the long shadows cast by their elders. It was never easy for them to deal with this inherited identity—just as it was not easy for my wife, Karina, to live with the expectations attached to being the daughter of Renato Constantino. They all had to live with the burden of having to prove themselves not just as competent or qualified students or professionals, but also worthy of a name or a memory. Such can be the tyranny of genealogy.

On the other hand, while opening doors for them, the institutions and organizations in which they sought acceptance tended to be skeptical and guarded against the presumed advantages of a familiar name. I first saw this when, without telling me, my son CP decided to apply for membership in my fraternity. I was happy. I looked upon it as his way of affirming the wisdom (or folly) of his father’s choices as a young man. But some of my younger “brods” in the fraternity did not see it that way. Rather than treat him like any other applicant, they gave him a hard time. I could only suppose that they needed to prove to him that having a dad for a brod would not earn him a free ride.

Pretty much the same thing happened to Kara when, after working for two years as a researcher in the Senate, she decided to pursue a career in the broadcast media. I encouraged her to apply as a reporter at the network where I was presenting the early evening news and hosting a weekly talk show. She went through a grueling application process, only to be told at the end that she did not make the cut. Undeterred, she applied in another station, and was taken in as a part-time production assistant in the election coverage for that year. This is the lowest position in the totem pole of any network’s public affairs department, just a cut above that of an OJT.

The station retained her as a part-time PA after the election. One stormy day, a boat sank somewhere off the Visayan coast, and there was no reporter available to cover this breaking story. It fell on Kara to gather all the details of the disaster as they trickled in. Instead of merely offering these in bullet form, she took the further step of weaving them into a story. The desk thought her script to be good enough to be read by a senior reporter on camera. As a result, she was recommended for a writing position in a show that dealt with disasters and emergencies. It was all she needed in order to show that her skills had little to do with her being my daughter.

Kara’s daughter, 12-year-old Julia, butted in as her mother was recounting how she landed her first broadcasting job. She said she also often found herself unable to shake off the expectations that came with her being her mother’s daughter. Her story made me realize why our four children, who went to UP from grade school to college, grew up shy in an environment where they were expected to be assertive.

One day, in a class in Filipino, Julia tearfully recalls, the teacher told the class to imagine they were journalists assigned to do an interview with a resident in a flood-stricken community. “What is the first and best question you would ask?” The teacher paused as she scanned the room. Seeing no hands raised, she turned to Julia who was seated at the back: “What do you think your mother would have asked?”

The little girl froze as she groped for something to say. Tears welled in her eyes. “My mind went blank because everyone was looking at me, waiting for me to say the right answer. The only thing I felt at that moment was that I had failed Mama.” From then on, Julia resolved to do better. But, she never again raised her hand in class.

In the face of the inevitable comparisons and inflated expectations to which they were subjected, my children learned to adopt certain defenses. Kara said she developed a strong stomach for failure. CP entered the academic life, but stayed away from the social science world of his elders by becoming a natural scientist. Our daughter Nadya also became a teacher but chose the arts as her field. The youngest, Jika, an accountant, spent two years as a volunteer teacher and dorm mother in a rural school in Palawan, but later joined the corporate world—away from anything that remotely smelled socialist. None of them became a political activist. But I think they have done more to change our society. One founded a grade school that focuses on the sciences and the humanities. Two set up foundations devoted to helping young girls from the poorest families get a good education.

Karina and I decided early on never to force our children to become our carbon copies, or to tell them what careers they should pursue. Living under that kind of pressure, many from our generation rebelled. Our children did not, and we trust they are free of any resentment.

* * *

Sam Miguel
06-03-2013, 08:59 AM
‘K + 12’ still struggling

Usual backlog of classrooms, teachers remains, says Luistro

By Dona Z. Pazzibugan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:14 am | Monday, June 3rd, 2013

(First of a series)

The birth pains that marked the launching last year of K + 12—a bold program meant to align the Philippines with the global 12-year basic education cycle—are not going away soon, along with the usual problems encountered at the beginning of each school year.

A quarter of the Philippines’ nearly 100 million population are students—some 21 million of them enrolled in more than 46,000 public schools and the rest in private facilities, according to statistics from the Department of Education (DepEd) for the school year 2011-12. (Figures from the last school year remained unavailable.)

Classes in public schools begin Monday—in some impoverished areas under the trees and still in others under tents, particularly in the Compostela Valley, where buildings were flattened in the devastating onslaught in December by Typhoon “Pablo” and remained unbuilt.

On May 15, President Aquino signed into law the program mandating Filipino pupils to attend kindergarten, six years of elementary school education, four years of junior high school and two years of senior high school. The signing officially ended the country’s 10-year basic education cycle, which now exists only in Angola and Djibouti.

New learning materials under the revised curriculum for Grade 2 and Grade 8 (formerly second year high school) will again be delivered late, as in last year when the K + 12 program was rolled out. As in the previous year, teachers did not have enough time to prepare. They only had a five-day mass training just before the start of classes.

Still, this second year of the program’s implementation should be better as the DepEd gains experience, said Armin Luistro, the education secretary and former president of De La Salle University, in a recent interview.

“It’s not generally understood and quite hard to explain that the K to 12 is a curriculum reform that involves changes in textbooks, changes in classrooms, retooling of teachers, etc.,” said Luistro. “Even if there is no K to 12, we have to address the backlog in classrooms, toilets, teachers, etc.”

The DepEd started revising the basic education curriculum the past school year in Grades 1 and 7.

“In any undertaking the first year of implementation is faced with a lot of glitches, challenges,” said Education Assistant Secretary Jesus Mateo when asked about the rushed training of teachers and the long delays in the delivery of the learning materials.

For the new curriculum for Grades 2 and 8 this year, the learning materials would again be delivered late, although Mateo promised these would reach the teachers and students earlier—“by the end of June or early July.”

“We made (the curriculum change) gradual, so we will improve as we move along the full implementation. This year will not be as problematic as last year,” he said.

A major change this year was the decision to tap the DepEd’s own experts in the field and in the main office to develop and train the teachers for the new curriculum.

The department previously sought the help of mostly university educators as subject area convenors to develop the teachers’ and learners’ materials.


This time, the DepEd’s Bureau of Elementary Education (BEE) took the lead for the Grade 2 curriculum development, while the Bureau of Secondary Education (BSE) handled the Grade 8 curriculum, working with DepEd teacher experts.

“This is a lot better than last year. We learned. The training was better-planned. There was even a chief trainers’ training before the trainers’ training. We learned from the experience last time,” said BEE education program specialist Galileo Go.

The trainers attended a seven-day program in April. The national training for the Grade 8 trainers was held in Baguio City on April 14-20. Three sets of training were held for the Grade 2 trainers: in Quezon City for Luzon, Cebu City for Visayas-Mindanao, and in Iloilo City for a special training session for the province.

The mass teachers’ training started after the May 13 elections.

Leversia Rivera, an English teacher at Manila Science High School for the last 14 years, said the training had improved but it was still not enough.

She took part in the training for Grade 8 teachers from Manila, Caloocan and Pasay City public schools on May 20-24 at Philippine Normal University. She said the teachers who underwent the mass training last year appreciated the exercise this time.

Incomplete materials

However, the teachers were handed only a curriculum guide consisting of a few pages, and teaching modules contained lessons only for the first quarter, Rivera said. “It’s hard to see the continuity when you do not know where you’re supposed to go by the end of the school year,” she said.

“We can’t blame the trainers since these were the same materials given to them. They assured us the lessons up to the fourth quarter period have been completed. Maybe it’s in the production,” she went on.

The teachers nevertheless pooled their resources to get soft copies of all the materials available and reproduced these at their own cost.

Go, who was the lead trainer for the revised Grade 2 English subject, said the teacher’s guides were ready by December last year so the bureau had more time to plan and prepare the training modules.

Unlike in the pilot year when the subject area convenors developed all the Grade 1 learning materials, including those for the various Mother Tongue subjects, the Grade 2 learner’s materials were devolved to the DepEd regional offices.

Using the learner’s guide developed by the BEE in Filipino, the DepEd regional offices tailor-fitted the materials per subject according to their language and cultural context.

K + 12 reverted to a multilingual education with the use of the mother tongue (the language a child uses at home) as a medium of instruction from kinder to Grade 3 and as a separate subject from Grade 1 to Grade 3.

The DepEd is employing 12 major local languages—Tagalog, Kapampangan, Pangasinense, Iloko, Bikol, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Waray, Tausug, Maguindanaoan, Maranao and Chabacano—introduced as a subject in Grades 1 to 3 in select schools.

The teacher’s guides, however, are all written in English.

Not enough training

Five days of training is admittedly not enough, Go said, especially since teachers in the lower grade levels usually handle most if not all of the subjects in their grade level.

The same teachers who underwent the Grade 1 curriculum training also turned up for the Grade 2 curriculum training.

“Grade 1 and 2 teachers can teach all the subjects,” said Go, who had taught all grade school subjects as a teacher and acting principal in Mogpong, Marinduque, before he joined the DepEd in 2004.

BSE education program specialist Marivic Tolitol said the Grade 8 curriculum was completed earlier than last year.

A physical education teacher before she joined the DepEd in 1998, Tolitol said she used to simply follow the lesson outline of the textbook.

“Before, I did not know there was a framework. I did not know why I was teaching these topics. I thought the textbook was it. But in fact you have to adjust the textbook according to the scope and topics you are teaching,” she said.

She said the topics in the new curriculum were arranged to build on skills that had been acquired.

“If you simply follow the textbook, you do not understand the prerequisites,” she said. “There is a very big change (in the new curriculum). Now the focus is to teach for understanding, not for facts or low level information.”

The Grade 8 learner’s guide, or learner’s material, per subject area is a thick pile of loose sheets bound together, Tolitol said. The learner’s material for Filipino has about 500 pages.

Real-life applications

With a revised curriculum, the existing textbooks in schools are no longer the primary source of materials but have instead become supplements to the new learning concepts developed by the DepEd.

“The textbooks are references but the exercises are already included in the materials. There are built-in readings,” Tolitol explained.

The emphasis on real-life applications of learning also opens the door to tapping resources outside the classroom.

“We have very rich resources, like people, parents and the people in the community. The Internet can be a resource. If you depend on the textbook you’re not even sure if it was printed correctly,” she said. “Don’t get me wrong. Textbooks are important. All we’re saying is we should not be limited to the textbook.”

The Grade 2 learner’s materials, on the other hand, are in book form.

Go said the department had taken note of the activities in the existing textbooks that the teachers could still use in the new curriculum.

“If the learners’ materials are not yet there, they make their own on Manila paper,” he said. “If I will teach again, it’s better now because we have a lot of materials. Before, when I was in the mountains, I had no textbook. We were using Manila paper. I did everything.”

Sam Miguel
06-03-2013, 09:01 AM
^ Continued

Spiral approach

Rivera said she appreciated the curriculum framework, including the “spiral approach” in tackling lessons, but believed the new curriculum would work only under ideal school conditions.

“In itself, the spiral approach is good and will ensure understanding so students can apply knowledge and competencies and be lifelong learners. Given favorable conditions, it will really work. But there are the realities. In some schools there are 80 students in a class,” she said.

As a specialized school, Manila Science High School has the ideal class size of 35 students.

Rivera said teachers would cope even if the implementation was in a trial-and-error stage.

“Teachers are inherently creative and resourceful. That’s how it is when you’re a teacher. We’ll do our part. We hope DepEd central [office] would do its job and ensure the basic inputs,” she said.

Mateo said the result of the K-to-12 reform would be known when pupils who entered kindergarten in school year 2011-12 had been through the new curriculum.

“The impact will be seen after six years because for those who will enter kinder, the assessment is when they finish (elementary school),” he said.

Planning senior high

The DepEd, meanwhile, has its eye on the fast-approaching 2016, when the added senior high school kicks in nationwide.

Luistro outlined general plans to give high school graduates viable options other than having to get a college degree to land a good job.

High school education is currently a “one-size-fits-all” program that assumes all graduates are meant for college, the department says. High school graduates who cannot afford college cannot land good jobs.

To help plan for the major infrastructure needs, Luistro said the department tapped the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to map out the capacity of private high schools as well as colleges and universities to absorb senior high students.

The government cannot build all the classrooms and hire all the teachers needed for senior high school, what with the need for classrooms and teachers going up each year in public schools.

Luistro said he was hoping for a 60:40 ratio between public schools and private schools in accommodating the more than 2 million senior high school students expected in 2016 and 2017.

Subsidizing students in private schools is less costly than if these students are in public schools.

“In principle, the government saves more if there are more students absorbed by private schools. But the question is, not all can be absorbed by private schools,” Luistro said.

2-year college vacuum

He said that extending subsidy to private schools would not only address the government’s logistical problem but also the concern of private colleges and universities, which would not have freshman enrollees in 2016 and 2017.

More importantly, the ADB mapping will also look into the senior high school programs that private schools plan to offer, whether in the regular academic track, the technical-vocational programs, entrepreneurial or the sports and arts courses.

Luistro wants senior high school programs to be tailor-fit for the locality in order to afford graduates who will not pursue college a good chance at employment or entrepreneurship.

“What we want in senior high school is specialized. If we will offer the same kind of programs, then all our graduates will compete for the same kind of jobs,” he said.

Senior high schools have to localize their technical-vocational or entrepreneurial programs, Luistro said.

“It will be easy if the province has a development plan, like Batangas has piers so it needs welders. The problem is if the province has no development plan, we have no basis to plan,” he said.

“We do not want a situation where since there is a fad for Tesda (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority) courses in beauty care, cosmetology, manicure and pedicure, you’ll have so many such graduates in a barangay. What will you all do? That’s the problem,” he said.

Luistro has suggested to Tesda the development of courses for scuba diving and surfing and others related to local tourism.

Dive spots in the provinces are a draw for tourists who stay for several weeks, he said, but the country has no diving academy.

23 tech-voc courses

During a recent visit to Siargao, Luistro said he saw three youths aged between 13 and 14 years who were not attending school because they were serving as surfing guides.

Luistro suggested a surfing academy in Siargao where the young guides could gain professional certification while attending school.

“There are core competencies, but the training should result in skills that can land them jobs,” he said.

Tesda said it had developed curriculum for technical-vocational courses, including automotive servicing, mechanical drafting, computer hardware servicing, horticulture, shielded metal arc welding, consumer electronics servicing, aqua culture, dressmaking/tailoring, masonry, care-giving, household services, plumbing, agricrop production, fish capture, handicraft, carpentry, electrical installation and maintenance, bread and pastry production, tile setting, animal production, fish processing and beauty care.

For the specialized technical-vocational courses in senior high school, the DepEd plans to tap practitioners as part-time teachers.

Republic Act No. 10533, or the Enhanced Basic Education law, more popularly referred to as the K to 12 law, allows schools to hire nonlicensed teachers as part-time teachers in high school.

“We can hire a bemedalled surfing coach who can teach surfing, or a Mangyan elder who has not finished college or high school but recognized as one who teaches values. The law allows this Mangyan elder to teach values education in the Mangyan communities,” Luistro said.

Luistro said the DepEd hoped to finish the mapping by November. “We have time to prepare,” he said.

(To be continued Tuesday.)

Sam Miguel
06-04-2013, 07:57 AM
K to 12: Teaching in local language a hit among kids

By Rima Jessamine Granali

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:25 am | Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

(Second in a series)

With a lapel microphone, Marilou Lucas acted more like a variety show host than a Grade 1 teacher as she led her pupils in playing musical native games like “Chimpoy Champoy” (similar to “Jack en Poy”) or singing the popular child’s refrain in Filipino, “Leron, Leron Sinta.”

The classroom was turned into a setting for singing, dancing, playing games, exploring the arts and telling stories in the mother tongue with the implementation of the K-to-12 (Kindergarten to Grade 12) curriculum last year, Lucas said, describing how she handled her Grade 1 class at Krus Na Ligas Elementary School in Quezon City.

A Grade 1 teacher for 16 years, Lucas observed that pupils were more enthusiastic using Tagalog and the learner-centered approach.

“The children were so engrossed that they didn’t want to go home because they were enjoying the activities,” she said. “They were excited to attend classes. For example, if you tell them that we’ll have painting tomorrow, they’ll tell the teacher, let’s have painting today.”

“The pilot year of K to 12 was not perfect,” she conceded. “We will try to address those imperfections. As we go on, we will try to make it perfect.”

Interviews conducted by the Inquirer with teachers and parents in general showed children were enthusiastic in embracing the use of Filipino, at least in Metro Manila.

Aside from establishing a “universal kindergarten” and adding Grades 11 and 12 (senior high school) to basic education, the newly enacted Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013, or the K to 12 Act, mandates the use of mother tongue-based multilingual education.

The program embracing the global 12-year education cycle was rolled out in Grades 1 and 7 in public schools across the country last year, leaving Angola and Djibouti as the only holdouts of the 10-year cycle the Philippines had followed since the Commonwealth era.

Last month, President Aquino signed into law the legislation covering the program.

Based on a Department of Education (DepED) order, the mother tongue (MT), or vernacular in the region, should be taught as a subject from Grades 1 to 3 and used as a medium of instruction from kindergarten to the first three years of grade school.

In Grade 1, subjects in the native language include Math, Araling Panlipunan (AP), Music, Arts, Physical Education and Health (Mapeh) and Edukasyon sa Pagpapakatao (Values Education).

Bahasa Sug, Bikol, Cebuano, Chabacano, Hiligaynon, Iloko, Kapampangan, Maguindanaoan, Maranao, Pangasinense, Tagalog and Waray-Waray were the 12 languages introduced last year.

Citing local and international studies, the DepEd has said that “the use of the learner’s mother tongue or the language used at home is the most effective medium of learning.”

Teaching new skills in an unfamiliar language is a “double burden” for children, because they are “learning both the language and the content all at the same time,” said Mercedes Arzadon, a professor at the University of the Philippines’ College of Education.

Language familiarity

The 2002 Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) followed the bilingual system, or the use of English and Filipino, before the DepEd last year initiated the program to employ local languages as medium of instruction from Grades 1 to 3.

“A new kid in school would not have any problem if any of the two languages is what he uses at home,” Arzadon said in an e-mail interview. “Maybe they know a little English or Filipino, but it is not the language they are most familiar with.”

Around 75 percent of Filipino children speak their native languages, like Kankanaey or Bikol, she said.

Children need to feel secure and comfortable in school because they are faced with new learning tasks, like raising their hands to be allowed to speak, counting and participating in class discussion, she said.

“If you want children to learn such skills and be able to be functional immediately you use the language they know well,” said Arzadon, an advocate of the mother tongue system of instruction.

“What happened then was that everything became a language subject, including Math and Science,” she said of the old system. “No wonder it became rote learning, the teacher asked the class to mimic her and memorize stuff without understanding it at all,” she explained.

Nenita Reyes, another teacher at Krus na Ligas, explained that with the new system, children learned through activities.

“In the old curriculum, children just sat and listened. But now, they are the ones discussing the subject,” Reyes said.

First graders were not hesitant to grab the class microphone and even raced for the opportunity to speak, she recalled. At Krus na Ligas Elementary School, teachers used lapel microphones to be heard by their nearly 60 students. Each class had a microphone. Teachers were equipped with lapel microphones.

Natividad Nacino, the principal, said using the native language as the medium of instruction “erases the notion that being good at English makes you brilliant.”

“If you speak English well, you must do better using your own language,” she said.

Easing pressure

Using the language that children speak at home lessens the “pressure” of being in school, said Joey Ann Tenorio, a Grade 1 teacher at Hen. Pio del Pilar Elementary School.

Because her pupils at the public school in Makati City have been accustomed to speaking in class, they remain confident even when they are required to recite in English, Tenorio said.

“Their oral skills have been developed during the first and second grading period using the mother tongue,” she said.

When the English subject was introduced in the third grading period, they were still able to express their thoughts and were not afraid of making mistakes, Tenorio said.

But some of the public school teachers wondered why the Filipino subject and mother tongue had to be taught as separate subjects when Tagalog, spoken in Metro Manila, is the base of Filipino, the national language.

The school’s principal, Imelda Caravaca-Ferrer, said the teachers told her that the materials in the two subjects were the same.

Beth Madlangbayan, a Grade 1 teacher, said Filipino was more on the parts of speech while the mother tongue focused on reading traditional stories. “Topics in MT and Filipino are basically the same,” she said.

“In my opinion, MT is more applicable in regions with a different mother tongue like Waray-Waray or Bisaya,” she said, suggesting that teaching MT and Filipino as one subject could lengthen the time for discussions.

Madlangbayan said that in the old curriculum, first graders were expected to read and write in English before they started Grade 2. But in K to 12, the children only need to be fluent in the local language.

The time allotment for subjects in the elementary level had been reduced to 30 to 50 minutes from the 40 to 90 minutes in the old curriculum. The recommended time in class for Grade 1 is four hours in the first semester and four hours and 30 minutes in the second semester.

At Krus na Ligas, teacher Lucas said the allotted time was not enough to allow all her 58 pupils to recite or discuss their artworks or assignments so they often extended the class or continued the next day.

Sam Miguel
06-04-2013, 07:58 AM
^^^ (Cont'd )

Communication skills

“Each student should be given a chance to recite,” she said, pointing out that Grade 1 in the K to 12 program was aimed at improving oral communication skills.

Reading and writing are not yet a priority at this grade level.

Reyes said there were only few writing exercises. Most of the time, they worked in groups, sang Filipino songs and played games. “It’s like kindergarten but more advanced,” she added.

Regina Palma, a mother, said the pacing seemed a bit slow for her son, Javen Yestin, who was one of the top pupils in Grade 1 in Krus na Ligas.

Lucas responded to Palma in a group interview with the Inquirer that the program’s philosophy was “slowly but surely.”

“Pupils are able to master the lessons because you build a strong foundation and add to their previous knowledge,” she said.

But teacher Nenita Reyes said: “If you feel your students are intelligent, then give them additional activities. We should learn to go outside the box. You should not limit yourself to what is prescribed by K to 12.”

At the Makati school, the teachers incorporated lessons from the old curriculum to advance the discussion, especially for pupils in the first section, or advance class, who could easily master the topics.

Principal Ferrer said: “In speaking, the skills are being repeated, it has no variety. Students have prior knowledge. The teachers deviated and started complementing using the usual way of teaching because it’s more organized.”

Madlangbayan said there were some topics that were no longer taught in Grade 1 which she deemed important, such as the Philippine national symbols, natural resources of the country, traits of a Filipino and rights of a child.

As early as first grade, she said these should be taught “to instill a sense of pride and nationalism.”

The K to 12 Araling Panlipunan is centered on self, family and community. It is “good, but it needs to be developed,” she added.

Pilot year a struggle

The teachers were optimistic about the new curriculum but admitted that its first year was a struggle because the instructional materials came late and they were only given a weeklong mass training.

But before the start of classes, they were given a Teacher’s Guide and Learner’s Guide, which contained topics and suggested activities for every lesson. The guides had portions in another language so they had to be translated.

“We were not really prepared. We didn’t know what to do. We struggled,” Tenorio said.

Because the materials came late, the teachers had a hard time translating mathematical terms into Tagalog.

Madlangbayan recalled there were times when Grade 1 teachers would debate on the proper translations.

Pupils also found Math difficult because they were more familiar with the English numbers, she said. They often mispronounced the numbers but by counting regularly in class, they managed to memorize them and solve mathematical problems, she added.

On the other hand, Lucas said music and art were the favorite subjects of most pupils because they got introduced to Philippine games, like “sungka” and “chimpoy champoy,” and old songs, like “Ugoy sa Duyan.”

But music was challenging for teachers who were not used to teaching rhythm, tempo and dynamics.

“Music was discussed briefly during the seminar. If you’re an ordinary person, you wouldn’t immediately know the high and low notes. I even drew a ladder to guide them,” Lucas said.

Tales from treasure chest

For the subject mother tongue, the DepEd suggested a list of stories to be read in class.

Most stories were “pulled out from a treasure chest” and not readily available in bookstores, like “Si Gong, Galuglong,” so the teachers had to improvise and create their own books, Lucas said. The constant need to produce materials “sharpened my imagination,” she said.

The teachers either drew the characters or downloaded pictures from the Internet, she said.

Teacher Joey Ann Tenorio said almost every night last year, she stayed up until 11 p.m. to make visual aids for her class the next day.

With the Grade 1 materials now in their hands and with their experiences last year, the teachers hoped this school year would be better.

Arzadon and other educators asked the Senate in an open letter in January to extend the use of the mother tongue as medium of instruction to Grade 6 and as a subject beyond Grade 3.

“I believe that there should not be a law prescribing teachers how to teach. Teachers should be given the freedom to introduce changes when a child is ready,” she said in her e-mail to the Inquirer.

“It should not be seen as a mere bridge to master Filipino or English. If I fell in love with my language, say Ibanag, and I want to continue using it and maybe grow up to be a radio commentator in Ibanag or a novelist in Ibanag, then I should be given the chance to use Ibanag as long as I want to.”

Sam Miguel
06-05-2013, 08:45 AM
Tale of poor cabbie’s son moves principal to action

By DJ Yap

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:54 am | Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Charls Bryan Katipunan was, like any other star student in high school, quiet, diligent, smart.

Classmates enjoyed his company in study groups; teachers had nothing to complain about his grades.

But unknown to most of them, every day in school had been a struggle for the 16-year-old son of a taxi driver.

In March, Katipunan graduated valedictorian of Batasan Hills National High School in a working-class section of Quezon City.

Addressing 3,000 graduates, he told a familiar tale of a bright student straining to meet the demands of school against the constraints of poverty.

In a matter-of-fact, self-deprecatory tone, he talked about how he often spent the little money he had for class projects and homework instead of lunch.

He described how hard it was to study in the cramped garage where he, his parents and seven siblings lived.

“He made us all cry,” recalled Diego Amid, the principal of Batasan Hills High, the second-most populated secondary school in the country with 13,000 students.

Amid said it was not until a few weeks before graduation the teachers learned of Katipunan’s plight.

“We were shocked because he was doing so well in school. We never thought that the money he was spending for printouts was supposed to be his money for food,” Amid said in an interview.

The principal visibly fought back tears as he recalled Katipunan’s speech. “He was not saying it in an emotional way. He was saying it intelligently. But it was so touching,” he said.

Amid said the boy’s story so moved him that at a recent meeting, he urged teachers to be “vigilant” in looking out for cases like Katipunan’s and to provide some form of assistance if needed.

He said he hoped to launch an “adopt a school child” project to identify and provide assistance to those in need.

Most students in Batasan Hills come from low-income families in the densely populated neighborhood.

The tall, slightly built Katipunan said it was not his intention to make others pity him, much less, cry for him when he wrote and delivered his valedictory address, which was in English.

‘Never give up’

“I was only telling the story of my life, my struggles. It was only an introduction to what I wanted to say about what we, the graduates, should do to achieve success, which is to never give up, and to be patient,” he told the Inquirer.

Born on March 4, 1997, Katipunan is the third of the eight children of Charlie Katipunan, a cab driver, and his stay-at-home wife, Cecile.

The family flitted from one rented apartment to another. They never stayed in one place for long, as they would invariably be evicted for not being able to pay the rent. “I think we transferred houses every year since I was born,” Katipunan said.

The worst came in his senior year when the family was forced to stay in a garage at the taxi company that employed Katipunan’s father.

“It was an open space. It didn’t have a door, and we only had curtains for privacy. The condition was so bad, and we couldn’t get a good night’s sleep,” he said.

It wasn’t long before the Katipunans needed to find a new place when the owner of the property decided to renovate the garage for other purposes. “We were asked to leave on my birthday,” Katipunan said.

In school, the boy scrimped on lunch to be able to afford the cost of materials for his assignments, computer shop rentals, and printouts. His father, who worked 24-hour shifts on an every-other-day basis, gave him P20 to P50 on most days, but not regularly.

“My priority was the requirements at school. If I had some money left, I’d buy a burger for P10,” Katipunan said.

Time management

Tuition in public schools like Batasan Hills National High School is free. Textbooks are provided by the Department of Education. Collecting money from the students for any reason is prohibited.

Katipunan belonged to a special engineering and mathematics class that has a more rigorous curriculum, including courses on calculus, advanced chemistry and research, than the one taught in regular sections. Thus, the class, consisting of about 60 students divided in two sections, used more advanced textbooks.

“I borrowed my textbooks from my neighbors or from the upperclassmen,” he said.

For all his troubles at home and school, Katipunan said he was good at managing his time, which would explain his academic performance. In his first year in high school, he ranked ninth in the class. He rose to second the following year, and fell to third the next.

“Senior year was the hardest, with all the other additional subjects, especially calculus. I studied really hard, but I had no expectations. I only wanted to pass. I really did not expect that I would become the valedictorian,” he said.

Upon the recommendation of the principal, Katipunan won a four-year scholarship grant from the Philippine Pediatric Society (PPS). He was chosen, along with five others, for excelling in school and rising above adversity, and for showing the qualities of “a servant leader,” said Dr. Rosemarie Jean Jaucian-Poblete of the PPS.

“I think PPS is very lucky to have Charls because we believe he is really the crème de la crème among public high school students,” she said.

As a scholar, Katipunan will engage in community public school health outreach projects for PPS for the duration of his scholarship, Poblete said.

“What is unique about this scholarship is that it requires the scholars to give back to their school of origin through the outreach program,” she said.

Parents role models

Katipunan is now an incoming freshman at Polytechnic University of the Philippines majoring in Nutrition and Dietetics.

“I want to make it my premedicine course, so I can become a doctor,” he said.

His original dream was to be an engineer or accountant, but the scholarship terms prompted him to take a science course instead.

Katipunan said his hardships as a student seldom caused him to feel sorry for himself.

“I keep an open mind. I just think of others who are in a worse situation. I think of all this as an advantage to make me stronger, rather than wallow in self-pity, considering there are people who have no place to stay and nothing to eat,” he said.

His parents are his role models. “I see how hard they work to raise us. They were never able to finish school, but they’re trying so hard to get us through school. I see myself in them, and I want to finish what they started,” he said.

“I have no clear view where I’d be 10 years from now,” Katipunan said. “What I know is I want to finish my studies, help my brothers and sisters, and buy a house so we don’t have to keep moving.”

Sam Miguel
06-05-2013, 08:47 AM
^^^ Your father is an unbridled idiot for churning out eight children and being unable to care for them, Charls. He's such an idiot he cannot even spell your name correctly.

Sam Miguel
06-05-2013, 08:48 AM
K to 12 offers fresh view of life after high school

By Rima Jessamine Granali

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:25 am | Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

(Third of a series)

Beyond changing labels, K to 12 is transforming teaching methods and providing fresh perspectives on life after high school.

From answering seatwork to doing scientific experiments with indigenous materials, from solving mathematical equations to drawing a butterfly on a Cartesian plane, from theories to job skills, these were among the innovations in the new curriculum observed by teachers interviewed by the Inquirer.

The K to 12 program calling for kindergarten, six years of elementary school, four years of junior high school and two years of senior high school was officially adopted last month when President Aquino signed the Enhanced Basic Education Act.

The law embraced the 12-year basic education program that is now the international norm and eschewed the 10-year cycle enforced in the country since the Commonwealth era. It was launched last year beginning with Grade 1 and Grade 7, the first year of junior high.

Already, the eye is on the two-year senior high school, or grades 11 and 12. Its completion could lead to a college or university degree or gainful employment in any of the vocational skills offered during the final two years of basic education.

Graduates of the program could acquire certificates of competencies to land them jobs as electricians, tailors or cooks or whatever it is that schools in a particular province require to help in its economic development efforts. Surfing, for example, in a surfers’ paradise like Siargao.

Subjects in both the junior and senior high schools are in the exploratory stages, at least in Gen. Pio del Pilar National High School in Makati City.

Allan Abrogar, a teacher in the public high school, said the facility offered courses in electricity, computer and drafting services. Female students have makeup, cooking and sewing, said Abrogar, who handles technology and livelihood education.

Starting Grade 9, students could choose a field of specialization and at Grade 11, a “career pathway,” which would allow them to get competency certificates from the Technical Skills and Development Authority. Other agencies, like the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts, and the Philippine Sports Commission could also issue certifications.

Shortages hobble the implementation of K to 12, as they had even in the old system.

Although education gets the biggest chunk of the national budget, Education Secretary Armin Luistro laments the perennial backlog in almost every department—from classrooms, to teachers, to desks and toilets—accounting for setbacks in attempts to raise the level of literacy of Filipinos.

The New York Times in 2009 cited a World Bank report that said the Philippines spent $138 per student per year. Thailand, it said, spent $853 per student, Singapore $1,800 and Japan $5,000. The figures remain relevant today.

Abrogar said lack of equipment was a challenge, but the school was pushing ahead.

“For learning to take place, teachers have to act and be resourceful,” he said.

In the drafting class at Gen. Pio del Pilar, students used long tables. Because there were not enough of them, boys and girls were divided and the scheduled one-hour session had to be extended to four hours per week to accommodate all students.

Abrogar said he had 28 to 32 students in each class.

In another public facility, Krus na Ligas High School in Quezon City, there was a mismatch in the delivery of materials, said its principal, Janet Dionio.

The school received modules on fisheries, but not only did these arrive late, the campus also does not have a fishpond, Dionio said.

Lilybeth Sagmaquen, the principal at Gen. Pio del Pilar, said the livelihood training offered to students should be based on the skills of the teachers, the locality and the needs of the industry.

‘Learning by doing’

In the enhanced program, teaching is more “student centered.”

“You don’t spoon-feed the students. The answers must come from them,” said Tomasa Maggay, a science teacher in the Makati City school.

The old curriculum was more focused on defining terms, identifying important scientists and memorizing the periodic table while K to 12 required teachers to facilitate activities for students to create their own learning, said Maggay.

“It’s learning by doing. Seeing is believing,” she said.

Indigenous materials like eggplants for the acids and bases topic were used in class as substitute for chemicals and scientific apparatus as suggested in the Teacher’s Guide that were handed to them during a seminar, she added.

But due to limited resources, the “one-is-to-one” rule has not been followed. She handled 50 to 55 students per section. They were grouped into five or more depending on the availability of resources, Maggay said.

Spiral progression

The discipline-based approach was used in teaching Science (General Science for first year, Biology for second year, Chemistry for third year, Physics for fourth year) and Math (Algebra I for first year high school, Algebra II for second year, Geometry for third year, Algebra and Trigonometry for fourth year) in Secondary Education Curriculum 2010, the former educational program.

K to 12 follows the spiral progression approach or from simple to complex, with previous knowledge as the starting point.

Rodora Domingo, a Math teacher at Krus Na Ligas, said the teachers struggled at first because they lacked materials and most of them had specializations, like Geometry or Algebra. Because of the new deal, teachers had to review and familiarize themselves with the other branches of mathematics.

The good thing is, students become well-rounded, she said, adding that K to 12 required activities involving arts, music and social studies.

Students’ verbal reasoning, analytical thinking and creativity were developed. They came up with drawings such as a butterfly when they discussed plotting points on a Cartesian plane.

In the old curriculum, the students would usually solve mathematical problems or do other seatwork, Domingo said.

Bernadette Eramiz-Dingal, a Grade 7 Filipino teacher, said the new curriculum was more fun and lighter for students. It focuses on developing students’ writing and reading with comprehension skills, narrowing to two the four competencies required by the old curriculum—listening, reading, writing and observing, Dingal said.

Aside from Ibong Adarna and other forms of Philippine literature, works of author Bob Ong and rapper Gloc-9 were also discussed in class. Because most of the materials used were current, the children enjoyed the subject and were encouraged to read, she added.

Sam Miguel
06-05-2013, 08:49 AM
^^^ (Cont'd )

Old and new forms

English teacher Maria Teresa Valdez, on the other hand, incorporated lessons from the old curriculum and other books in the new program.

Valdez said she referred to the textbook, “The New Dimensions for Learning English” published by Rex Bookstore, because the organization of lessons there was more suited to her students than the sequence of topics in the K-to-12 guide.

“It starts with speech so the children get to enjoy it because it’s more on storytelling. After speech, reading and then grammar,” she added.

K to 12 immediately begins with subject-verb agreement. It was difficult for students who could not even differentiate nouns from verbs, she said.

Instead of following the DepEd’s Teacher’s Guide, Valdez started with the parts of speech, just like the old curriculum.

The trainers told the teachers they could complement the new curriculum and adjust according to the level of the student’s knowledge, she said.

Valdez also replaced some of the stories in the K-to-12 reading list like Manuel Arguilla’s “How My Brother Leon Brought Home a Wife” with “The Happiest Boy in the World” by Nick Joaquin.

Arguilla’s story was too long and complicated for Grade 7 students, she said. “They cannot relate to it.” Joaquin’s story, on the other hand, “was more parallel to the experiences of the students,” she added.

“Always consider your students first, let them be your guide,” Valdez said. “Do what you think will be best for the students. Don’t force yourself to follow what’s in the Teacher’s Guide.”

K to 12 presents “more advantages than disadvantages,” said Dionio. “The program itself is good but the problem is resources.”

She said that teachers had to surmount challenges to implement the new curriculum last year. Public high school teachers said they were given a five-day mass training seminar, with around 100 participants, on how to go about the new curriculum before the opening of classes.

Not enough classrooms

They were provided with a Teacher’s Guide and Learner’s Guide, which served as their reference because the modules for the different subjects came late.

Melvin Canlas, the property custodian at Gen. Pio del Pilar, said some of the instructional materials for the first and second grading periods were delivered in November and December while those for the third and fourth grading were handed over in February.

“The name of the game for the pilot implementation was resourcefulness,” said Dionio, the principal at Krus Na Ligas.

Dionio expressed fears that some public schools may not have enough room for students once Grade 11 is implemented.

By 2016, the population would increase by 25 percent because of the incoming Grade 11 students and would grow by 50 percent the following year, she projected.

Since 2001, Krus Na Ligas has been requesting the construction of additional classrooms.

“To make the problem worse, since we do not have enough space, classrooms were divided into two. Instead of having 45 to 50 in a standard classroom, we now have 90 to 100 students,” she said.

Last year, they had 2,092 students crammed in 19 classrooms.

The Department of Education received a budget increase for the implementation of K to 12. But Dionio said the problem was “not funds but space.”

Despite this, the principal remained optimistic that their “hiling (request) powers” would work and they would have enough rooms in 2016, among many other things.

Sam Miguel
06-05-2013, 08:54 AM
Ladderized education

By Michael L. Tan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:24 am | Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Last week I wrote about the need to plan ahead for senior high schools or Grades 11 and 12, which will start in the school year 2016-2017.

The senior high schools will have different tracks, of which the technical/vocational one will be particularly important for families that may find it difficult to support their children through college, or whose children may not seem cut out for college professional courses.

I did receive some grumbling from friends who see the tech/voc track as discriminating against the poor, a kind of dead end that limits their potentials for moving upward economically. But this form of “streaming” actually exists in many countries where the state has heavy subsidies of education. Precisely because of these heavy state subsidies, the educational systems in these countries have to be very selective about who gets to universities, which are almost all state institutions. In these countries, you can come from a very rich family but if you can’t pass a battery of exams from one stage to another, you just won’t get into college.

Our system is mixed, with many private educational institutions and extreme variations in the quality of education, all the way up to law, medical and nursing schools. In this system, I think the senior high schools do offer a window of opportunity for improving access to practical educational programs, without closing the doors for universities.

The key to opening those doors is a ladderized system that allows people to finish a short course, go out and work, and then return for a more advanced course, perhaps even moving into a college degree.

My first exposure to this ladderized system was the University of the Philippines’ School of Health Sciences, where barangay-nominated scholars can study for two years to become a midwife, go back to serve their communities, then return to UP for another two years to get a degree in nursing. After another stint of community service, they can then go back and get a degree in medicine.

Last year former UP education dean Dina Ocampo told me about Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) having a ladderized program to train office clerks in various skills, with the option of eventually getting a degree in business.

Early this week I once again stumbled on ladderized programs while trying to help a friend find a child-carer. I remembered some years back that Tesda (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority) had a “supermaid” program with an assortment of certificate courses, mainly with the overseas market in mind. I wrote about the program—which provided all kinds of skills from cooking to pet care—asking why we weren’t offering these skills in high schools, not because we want to produce more domestic helpers for export but because so many of the skills are essential for life.

Reskilling the deskilled

Some years back, when I began to help my mother with managing the household, I had to remind her not to be so harsh on household helpers. She would complain about helpers not knowing how to cook, or fix a bed, or clean the toilet, and I’d tell her about the times I was working in rural communities where cooking basically entailed boiling, where houses were so tiny there wasn’t too much to clean, where there were no beds to fix since people slept on the floor, and where there were no toilets, period.

The situation was worsened through the years, with “culinary” skills reduced further to preparing instant noodles. You have farmers’ children who don’t know a thing about farming, who dream of going to the city to work, but who will have no skills for gainful employment.

To get back to the main topic, I did end up in the Tesda website and was happy to learn that it is implementing many ladderized programs that are linked to college degrees. Go to the Tesda website and click on “List of Institutions with Ladderized Programs” to download a nationwide list of colleges offering certificate courses that can lead to a college degree.

There were many—too many, if you ask me—schools offering certificate courses that can be used toward a college degree in “computer science” and “information technology.” I’ll be frank and say I’m not too keen on these programs, having supported scholars in such programs who are now working as department store clerks.

I was most impressed with programs being offered at New Era College, which is run by the Iglesia ni Cristo. For example, to get a bachelor of science degree in technology and livelihood education, there are several Tesda courses that can be used: housekeeping, household services, commercial cooking, baking/pastry, beauty care, and hairdressing. (Yes, I sighed over the last two, and yet it seems there will never be an oversupply of beauty parlors: The poorest of the poor will go, even when there’s little money left, for a pedicure.)

Even more intriguing, New Era offers a degree program in mechanical engineering, with several ladderized courses: machining, automotive servicing, and welding. For civil engineering, there’s carpentry, plumbing, and masonry.

I was also surprised to find Siena College in the list of institutions with ladderized programs. I’ve written several times about my cynicism with hotel and restaurant management programs, having again seen too many students who go through four years of college but not find a job.

Siena’s ladderized program for a bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant management offers short alternatives along the way: commercial cooking, housekeeping, food and beverage services, bartending, and front office services. It looks like if you have a certificate in one of these courses, you may be able to land a job, perhaps minimum-wage, but a way to earn some money and maybe save to go back to school for that elusive college degree.

Siena also has a BS Travel Management program with these certificate courses: travel services, commercial cooking, and tour guiding.

The Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Pasig’s nursing degree program has the following certificate courses in a ladderized program: caregiving, health care services, massage therapy, household services, and PC operations.

With senior high schools coming up in 2016, the challenge is to get innovative ladderized programs in place. In the meantime, though, the existing ladderized programs already offer options. Employers may want to consider supporting a household helper, or office staffer, through these certificate programs. Besides having a better managed home or office, you open new life opportunities for them as well.


A postscript to my last column, “Aunts,” where I cited a tita, Hilda Sian Presbiterio, who recently passed away: I mentioned that a suitor had written the song “Hindi Kita Malilimutan” for her. An alert reader pointed out that the song was written by Fr. Manoling Francisco. Oh no, I thought, I hope I didn’t get Father Manoling into trouble here. The correct title of the song written for Tita Hilda was “Hindi Kita Malimot,” written by Josefino Cenizal.

Sam Miguel
06-05-2013, 09:15 AM
Beg, steal, or borrow

By Conrado de Quiros

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:25 am | Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

I myself am not a great fan of K to 12. I know it’s now law and is on its second year. The Department of Education says the implementation is getting better, as schools get to iron out the kinks of last year. But whether it is or not, I don’t know that the program will really make a huge dent in the huge problem of education.

Let me be clear: I believe in education, I’m big on education. If there’s one thing I think will bring us out of the rut of poverty, it is education. If there’s one thing I think will make us less desperate, benighted and hopeless, it’s education. If there’s one thing that’s going to stop us from thinking in terms of surviving and climbing out of the pit and start thinking in terms of forging ahead and being better than everybody else, like Singapore, it’s education.

I said yesterday that the challenge for government is going beyond growth to curbing, if not eradicating, poverty, and the only thing I see doing that is education. Not security, not the CCT program, not roads and bridges. You take a bus on Edsa and see the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, and you wonder how they’ll get anywhere. Education is the only way they will. From manual exertion to unleashing brain power, from digging ditches to ditching squalid digs, from subsisting to being human.

Doubtless, adding a couple more years to grade school can improve the quality of education. But probably only at the margins, and probably only at the cost of reducing the number of kids public elementary school will reach. It’s too big a cost for too little a return.

I myself see the problem of education as needing to educate the entire population and not just a portion of it. For that to happen, we need to see what needs to be done and what possibilities exist to do it.

From where I stand, what needs to be done first and foremost is to enlarge the scope of coverage of education rather than to deepen it. For those who can afford the latter, fine. Their kids can have as much schooling as they want, going on to high school and college. For the poor and huddled masses, who are most of us, the agenda should be to cover as much of them as possible to make them as literate and numerate as possible. That is the sine qua non of things. You can’t read and write and count, you won’t have a chance in life. You won’t have drive, you won’t have possibility, you won’t have hope. Worse, you’ll pass that attitude—and fate—on to your children, who will pass it on to their children.

Of course this will require massive expenditure from government, far more massive than it is spending now. I myself don’t care if it nips and cuts and takes from the other departments to do it, it’s money better spent. Indeed, I don’t care if it begs, steals and borrows, not least from abroad, to do it, desperate times call for desperate measures.

But here’s where the public-private partnership should help enormously. Here’s where that partnership ought to be directed to, even if exclusively. By all means give the private sector all sorts of incentives, by all means cajole it, exhort it, twist its arm. But get it to help put the kids to school. Get it to help bring truly universal education to this country.

While at this, why not use the volunteers to help in this as well? The same volunteers that flocked spontaneously to help in P-Noy’s campaign, the same volunteers who believe in Edsa, the same volunteers who constitute People Power. The same volunteers who materialize spontaneously during storms, floods, and earthquakes to help. The same volunteers who are just waiting in the wings, waiting to be unleashed.

Efren Peñaflorida showed how one person’s initiative can have a far-reaching impact in getting the poorest of the poor to read and write and count. His “kariton classroom” is a magnificent and inspiring creation. All we need to do is replicate it throughout the country through the volunteers, quite apart from the DepEd. Don’t wait for the impoverished kids to go to school, bring the school to the impoverished kids.

Beyond this, why stick to formal education to educate this country? The possibilities spawned by the technological revolution are boundless, the possibilities raised by computers, the Internet, electronic reading devices are endless. All you need to do is spread them, and they will detonate learning more powerfully than dynamite. As you can see with the ease with which 5-year-olds use tablets, these things are their language, these things are their world. You make them available or accessible to most everyone, and you can get rid of textbooks and schoolbags and various accessories that cost an arm and a leg for the poor.

In case you don’t know it, most literature books that are sold in bookstores are now public domain and can be downloaded legally in the Internet. In case you don’t know it, too, most books can be downloaded, if illegally, from cyberspace. But if that’s what it will take to get Pinoys to read and write, then I’m all for it. Survival trumps property rights.

Government doesn’t need to foot the bill for all this. Again, there’s the private sector for it. In fact, there are the private citizens for this. Not least the Pinoys in the United States and other countries who can always be inveigled or cajoled into parting with their used or surplus PCs and laptops and tablets and Kindles and shipping them back home. Quite apart from the various donor agencies who can be importuned for aid in this respect. If people can donate all sorts of relief goods after crippling floods, they can donate all sorts of gadgets after crippling lack of learning. Ignorance is the greatest disaster of all.

Beg, steal, or borrow, but educate, educate, educate.

Sam Miguel
06-05-2013, 09:56 AM
Balance between ‘hard skills’ and PE


By Philip Ella Juico

(The Philippine Star) | Updated June 5, 2013 - 12:00am

Our column last week on physical education (PE) and its place and role in the long-delayed K+12 program, elicited reactions, a number of them from parents who take their role in parent-teacher’s associations (PTA) seriously. Another reaction came from “Mr PE” himself, former Philippine Sports Commission chairman, Dr Aparicio Mequi, Dean of the College of Physical Education of Foundation University (FU) in Dumaguete.

It will be recalled that we wrote last week about the proposal of London Mayor, Boris Johnson, just before the 2012. Johnson had stated that introducing the change in the schools’ curriculum would be one of the major legacies of the London Olympics.

One comment we received was that the proposal to make two hours daily of PE mandatory is another good reason for the issuance of the proposed Presidential Proclamation on the “Decade of the Child’s Right to Play” which has been drafted by the DepEd under the leadership of Br. Armin Luistro, FSC, Secretary of Education. The Proclamation could be a shot in the arm for the huge effort to implement the two-hour daily PE policy.

The concern aired by parents revolves around priorities and maintaining the healthy balance between hours to be devoted to “hard” skills like the sciences and the “less practical” PE. The parents stated that the demands of the new world order require skill in both human relations and the sciences, the world being pushed to greater heights by innovations. And very often, such innovations are science- and technology-driven as is obvious in, among others, the electronics, IT, telecommunications and even sports and leisure industries.

PE proponents, on the other hand, insist that physical wellbeing is both essential and necessary in pursuing any endeavor, whether it is academics, laboratory research or in highly physical and manual activities. In fact, maintaining the balance has been an age-old concern dating back from the Olympics as conceptualized in Athens, Greece and is clearly obvious in the adage (which has its equivalent in many languages), “a healthy mind in a healthy body.”

Mequi, as part of his lifelong and continuing advocacy of promoting a healthy and active lifestyle especially among our computer-mesmerized youth, is working on a proposal for college PE to be taken up everyday, instead of the traditional twice a week, at the FU.

There’s nothing magical about where Mequi is coming from: daily PE could engender a habit of daily indulgence in physical activity which is the present-day recommendation of medical and wellness professionals for the maintenance of a healthy lifestyle. The proposal, if accepted by higher FU authorities, could trigger a radical change in higher educational institutions’ policy and practice in tertiary level education.

The proposal to increase PE hours has already been recommended by a Department of Health official in a TV interview. The official recommended to the DepEd to increase PE class periods from the current 40 minutes per week to 150 minutes. The proposal was based on the alarming number of obese Filipino children where eight out of 10 five years old and below are classified as “obese” and six out of 10 among 10 years old and under. It was also revealed that 80 percent of Filipino children are obese, despite the commonly held belief that malnutrition is widespread.

Mequi states that current policy and practices in PE in colleges and universities in the Philippines had their genesis in the University of the Philippines (UP), founded in 1908. The introduction of PE, organized and school sports were introduced by academicians and Protestant missionaries at the turn of the century soon after the Americans ran the Spaniards out of the country (with the help of Filipino forces who were promised some kind of self-rule by the new colonizers). These missionaries and educators were on board the USS St. Thomas, because of which they were collectively called “The Thomasites”.

The evangelical and proselytizing passion of the Thomasites spread far and wide into the northern and southern parts of the country, notably the Mountain Province and Negros Oriental in the South, respectively. Living proof of the work of the Thomasites is seen in, among others, the establishment of the Siliman University.

It is no surprise therefore that early PE teachers in the UP were educated in America, and coming back they brought with them the idea that PE should be required for college students at least twice a week. The educators had hoped that the twice a week routine would serve as a cathartic break from the rigors of “academics”.

Thus, as Mequi continues, “PE was not considered an ‘academic’ subject but just a refreshing break from classes, a perception which through the years relegated PE to a low status in the spectrum of subjects consisting the ‘liberal arts’ curriculum.”

Next week, the World Health Organization speaks out in support of PE.

Sam Miguel
06-06-2013, 08:18 AM
Bankruptcy threatens private colleges, universities

By Dona Z. Pazzibugan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:49 am | Thursday, June 6th, 2013

(Fourth of a series)

For private high schools, colleges and universities, survival is the name of the game when the roll-out of the K to 12 (kindergarten to Grade 12) reform is completed.

The mainstreaming of Grades 11 and 12 come 2016 has schools planning ahead to expand to senior high school while at the same time bracing up for the worst.

“Private schools support the K to 12 because we need it. But the transition can be dangerous if it’s not done properly. There are basic survival issues,” said Dr. Jose Paulo Campos, chairman of the Coordinating Council for Private Educational Associations (Cocopea), one of the country’s largest umbrella organizations of private schools.

Cocopea, which represents more than 2,000 private schools and five educational associations, has supported the K to 12 agenda of the Department of Education (DepEd) to “raise the overall quality” of the basic education system.

But with the reform, many private colleges and universities schools face bankruptcy because of disruptions in enrollment, said Campos, president of the Emilio Aguinaldo College (EAC) in Manila.

Although President Aquino signed the law mandating K to 12, many policy issues remained to be threshed out.

“We are at a crossroads where there has to be a policy decision and it should be done at the soonest possible time,” Campos said.

Since high school students will remain in senior high school for two more years, from 2016 to 2017, there will be no college freshmen enrollees during these years.

The enrollment gap will continue to 2018 and 2019 since there will still be no new enrollees for the third-year and fourth-year level, affecting graduate courses, like medicine and law.

“Private school funding is dependent on student fees. What will private schools do when there are no students?” Campos said.

Cocopea executive director Joseph Noel Estrada said while private schools had no choice but to expand to senior high school, they were also concerned about their viability.

“Their concern is, students might go to government schools instead. That is the biggest concern, how private schools will survive,” he said.

Estrada said the enrollment in private colleges and universities had been falling every year due to the high cost of tertiary education.

Education Secretary Armin Luistro has expressed hopes that private schools will be able to absorb up to 40 percent of the more than 2 million senior high school students.

Luistro has also said that subsidizing students in private schools would be less costly for the government than building more classrooms, procuring more books and hiring more teachers.

Campos said the situation was “a little more complicated” than that, pointing out for one that college faculty were paid higher than high school teachers.

Republic Act No. 10533, the Enhanced Basic Education law referred to as the K to 12 allows the DepEd and private high schools to hire teachers of general education (GE) subjects in college and instructors in technical-vocational schools to teach in senior high school.

“Who will absorb the (pay) differential? What if there’s not enough income? These are sensitive and important matters,” Campos said.

Estrada said the implementing rules and regulations of the K to 12 law had to spell out a separation policy for the college faculty who would ultimately be displaced.

Campos also called for a “more comprehensive analysis” of the education service contracting (ESC) scheme where the government subsidizes students in private schools since they cannot be accommodated in public schools.

Key is subsidy

The annual subsidy is currently P10,000 for every student in a school in Metro Manila, and P6,500 in a school outside Metro Manila. The DepEd says the average cost of keeping a student in a public school is about P14,000 a year.

Campos said private high school tuition costs between P20,000 to P25,000 a year.

“To be effective, we should bring it closer,” said Campos, who also argued for a voucher system that allows students flexibility to choose their school. “The key here is the subsidy,” he said.

The DepEd currently subsidizes the tuition of about 700,000 students in private high schools under the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (Gastpe).

Cocopea officials stressed that the government could not afford to allow private schools to shut down.

“There will be many schools that will close, many that will not survive. But we need the private educational sector because the public school system cannot handle it all. They cannot absorb all the students,” Estrada said.

“There are small private high schools that cannot afford to expand (to senior high school) in terms of faculty, (besides) there is no assurance that students will enroll in their school,” he added.

Estrada said schools were aware that some of their students might stop at Grade 10 (fourth-year high school), and either transfer to a public high school or totally drop out.

With a constitutional mandate for free basic education, public schools dominate the system. There are some 36,000 public elementary schools against 6,000 private elementary schools, and some 7,000 public high schools against some 1,000 private high schools.

Prospects of bankruptcy

The situation is reversed in tertiary education.

Of the 1,683 higher education institutions (HEIs), 643 are public, including 110 state universities and colleges (SUCs), their satellite campuses and local universities and colleges.

Despite having more private HEIs however, the student distribution is not so skewed toward private colleges and universities.

Of the 3.03 million college students in school year 2011-2012, private colleges and universities had 57 percent, or 1.71 million students.

In Metro Manila, 70 percent of the 729,950 college students, or 509,132, were in private HEIs.

“It could be that many private schools will go bankrupt. Will the government be able to fill in and provide for all the needs and expand the public school system?” Campos said.

“At the end of the day the government has to decide whether private schools are their partners in education or just a group that’s just there when needed but not really appreciated,” he said.

Campos said most private schools were barely getting by, “except those at the very top that cater to a segment of society who are willing to pay.”

“But there are more students who are not financially capable. In our school alone we have a lot of promissory notes. They think schools earn a lot. It might be true for a minority, for the very top. But majority of the higher education institutions are hardly getting by,” he said.

Sam Miguel
06-06-2013, 08:20 AM
^^^ (Cont'd )

Curriculum reform

At the other end is the college curriculum reform.

The Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) has issued the new general education curriculum that did away with duplicating subjects that will already be taken up in senior high school.

The CHEd had revised the GE orientation from being mere “remedial or introductory courses” to subjects meant for higher competencies since senior high school graduates who will pursue college are expected to have acquired basic competencies and skills.

It has cut in half the number of GE subjects so that these would only be taken up in two semesters (or a year) instead of the current four semesters (or two years).

A shortened GE curriculum is expected to cut most college courses, which are usually taken for four years.

CHEd Chairperson Patricia Licuanan said technical panels had been per discipline to set their respective curriculum. She said the panels should finalize the revised curriculum by October this year.

Before the implementation of the new curriculum, the commission said the GE faculty should undergo orientation “to orient them toward the philosophy of liberal education away from the disciplinal and remedial thrust of current GE courses (and) enable them to teach the core courses using new material and new material.”

Estrada said reducing the length of the course programs would be like a “double whammy” for colleges and universities facing decreased enrollment.

“We will look at the program. If that’s how it is, we can’t do anything about it,” he said.

Campos said private HEIs would put up senior high schools and choose the tracks according to their current programs and faculty training.

The DepEd’s prescribed senior high school curriculum offers academic, technical-vocational, entrepreneurial and sports and arts tracks. This allowed for more class hours for electives for senior high school students who will pursue the technical-vocational, entrepreneurial, and sports and arts tracks than for those in the regular academic tracks.

Core subjects

Five core subjects were prescribed for Grade 11: English, Filipino (Language), Mathematics, Life/Physical Sciences (Natural Science) and Contemporary Issues (Social Sciences), regardless of the students’ track.

The core subjects for Grade 12 are 21st century Philippine Literature, 21st century World Literature (Literature), Media and Information Literacy (Communication), and Philosophy of the Human Person (Philosophy).

Schools may provide their respective electives or specialized subjects so long as the students complete the required number of hours of instruction.

Those in the academic track who will likely pursue higher education are further subdivided into three categories: humanities, education and social sciences; science, technology, engineering and mathematics; and those pursuing business, accountancy and management.

Students who are pursuing nonacademic tracks will devote the entire second semester of Grade 12 to electives according to their respective track

Campos said Emilio Aguinaldo College would pursue the science academics track. The proposed curriculum has not yet been circulated.

“Our plan is to offer senior high school because that seems to be the lifesaver. If we do not offer that, what will our faculty do? And if our competitor schools offer senior high school, the students might go there and stay there for college,” he said.

The implementing rules and regulations for the K to 12 law will come out in September, along with the final prescribed curriculum for senior high school, according to Estrada who sits in the technical panels.

“We need to come out with the policy as soon as possible,” he said.

Campos said the K to 12 reform required close coordination not only between the government and private education sector but other sectors of society as well.

“Because of the complexity and size of the problem, we should not be idealistic that everything will go smoothly. It won’t be a trouble-free transition. But the attitude should be that if there is a problem, deal with them, work together and fix it,” he said.

“Doing the blame game is unproductive. We should rather be focusing on how to fix the problem,” Campos said.

Sam Miguel
06-13-2013, 07:35 AM
Only 5 in PH make list of Asia’s top universities

1:07 am | Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Only five of the country’s universities, led by the University of the Philippines (UP), made it to this year’s list of top 300 Asian universities ranked by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS).

This was the lowest number of Philippine universities to make the cut since QS began ranking universities in Asia in 2009.

Last year, 14 of the country’s own made it to the list of Asia’s top universities, according to QS.

There were 15 Philippine universities on the 2011 list, 18 in 2010 and 16 in 2009.

UP’s ranking went up by a notch—to 67th—in the 2013 QS University Rankings for Asia released on Tuesday.

It was ranked 68th last year, 62nd in 2011, 78th in 2010 and 63rd in 2009.

This year Ateneo de Manila University was ranked 109th, down from its 86th ranking last year.

The University of Santo Tomas (UST) was ranked 150th, compared to 148th last year.

De La Salle University was ranked in the 151-160th range, down from its 142nd rank last year.

The University of Southeastern Philippines remained in the 251-300 range, where it was last year.

UP, Ateneo, La Salle and UST have consistently made it to the QS list of top Asian universities since the rankings began in 2009.

Missed the cut

The nine Philippine universities that were on last year’s list but did not make the cut this year were Silliman University, Xavier University, Saint Louis University, University of San Carlos, Ateneo de Davao University, Adamson University, Central Mindanao University, Mapua Institute of Technology and the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.

They were in the 301-plus rank last year.

These universities were among the Philippine universities that were consistently included in the QS ranking since 2009.

9 indicators

QS ranks universities worldwide according to nine indicators, mainly based on reputation and research citations.

The indicators are academic reputation, employer reputation, faculty and student population, citations per paper, international faculty, international students, papers per faculty, inbound exchange and outbound exchange.

QS started the ranking among Asian universities in 2009. From 2009 to 2011, it ranked the 200 top universities in the region. Last year it expanded the ranking to cover the top 300 Asian universities.

QS said it used a “slightly different” methodology from the one it used for the annual QS World University Rankings to “reflect the region’s different priorities.”

Top universities

This year’s top Asian universities were the same as last year.

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology once more topped the QS ranking. Once again it was followed by National University of Singapore, University of Hong Kong and Seoul National University.

Last year’s sixth-ranked Peking University rounded up the top five this year.

06-16-2013, 10:03 AM
The roadmap of reform for higher education

By Butch Hernandez

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:46 pm | Friday, June 14th, 2013

The idea that much of what a college graduate learned in school will turn out to be quite irrelevant at work is a prevalent one. Certainly, there may be a lot of anecdotal evidence to support this notion. However, the fact remains that a strong academic foundation is critical to one’s success and continuing upward mobility in the workplace.

Unfortunately, it is also a fact that the job prospects for the 500,000 or so college graduates that come marching out of the hallowed halls of the academe every year are not that bright. The National Statistics Office Labor Force Survey shows that “despite the attainment of a college diploma, college graduates comprised at least 18 percent of the total unemployed, the third highest share in terms of educational attainment from 2006 to 2011.”

College graduates have difficulty getting jobs for a number of reasons. For instance, there simply are not enough job prospects in their field of specialization, or they discover that the pay rate for entry-level positions is rather low. More often than not, however, the average college graduate misses out on a lot of job opportunities simply because he/she lacks the commensurate communication skills and competencies that will get him/her hired.

This is sad because there are actually many job vacancies right now, particularly in the IT BPM (information technology and business process management) industry. Jose Mari Mercado, president of Ibpap (Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines) recently said the IT BPM industry hired 772,000 full-time employees in 2012, and this number is expected to rise to around 1.3 million by 2016.

According to Mercado, the skills and competency levels of job applicants have always been a cause for concern for employers, but the shortfall is rather pronounced in the IT BPM industry where the potential for growth is such that the demand for talent far outstrips the supply coming from our universities and colleges.

To meet the shortfall, Mercado said, Ibpap is working very closely with the Commission on Higher Education to propagate the Service Management Program (SMP) specialization track among SUCs (state universities and colleges) and HEIs (private higher education institutions.) SMP, as defined by CHEd Memorandum Order 6 and 36 series 2012, is made up of 15 units of electives and six units of internship. This specialization track is prescribed for the BSBA or BSBM and BS IT degree programs. The electives (business communication, BPO fundamentals, service culture and systems thinking) are designed to calibrate the BA or IT graduate’s competencies and skills with industry standards.

Of course, the success of any education initiative ultimately rests on the quality of the faculty. Ibpap has been running SMP teacher-training activities precisely to address this issue.

The most recent, organized for selected faculty from the BA, IT and language departments of Cavite State University, Laguna State Polytechnic University and Polytechnic University of the Philippines, was concluded last May 24 at Asia Pacific College.

Carmelita Yadao-Sison, CHEd director for legal affairs, addressed the graduating faculty. Here are excerpts from her remarks:

“Faculty members in the state universities and colleges share the same mission and vision of pursuing philosophies, objectives, thrusts and strategies of higher education as that of their counterparts in the private sector. But what sets you apart is the fact that all SUCs are recipients of so much public funds and government support since you are also expected to provide access to quality education to those less endowed yet deserving members of society.”

“The program of collaboration between academe and industry is made possible through the P500 million for growth area funds that President Benigno S. Aquino III and [Budget] Secretary Florencio Abad made sure included the IT BPM industry among the recipients.”

“No doubt, the IT BPM industry has propelled this country to the heights of phenomenal economic growth at the present time. But we do not want to be complacent so we will continue these programs and initiatives with partner Ibpap and partner [HEIs] like the Asia Pacific College led by its president, the indefatigable Dr. Paulino Tan. He is one of CHEd’s pillars in the ICT program, being the chair of our technical panel in that discipline.”

“So you see, ladies and gentlemen, there is now a leveling of the playing field. Both private and public [HEIs] have responded to the call of President Aquino for a roadmap of reform in higher education. This program you have just completed is a distinct part of that roadmap. You, dear graduates, are the initial fruit that this program has borne.”

“Let me now share with you these simple thoughts of Madame Marie Curie: You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end, each of us must work for his own improvement and at the same time share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to those to whom we can be most useful.”

Sam Miguel
06-17-2013, 09:40 AM
Graduates from low-performing D.C. schools face tough college road

By Emma Brown, Monday, June 17, 6:10 AM E-mail the writer

Johnathon Carrington grew up on the sixth floor of a low-income D.C. apartment complex, a building most recently in the news for a drive-by shooting that injured 13.

His parents told him early on that education could be his escape, and Carrington took them at their word. He graduated Friday as the valedictorian of his neighborhood school, Dunbar High, and against all odds is headed to Georgetown University.

But Carrington, 17, is nervous, and so are his parents. What if Dunbar — where truancy is chronic and fewer than one-quarter of students are proficient in reading — didn’t prepare him for the rigors of college? What if he isn’t ready?

“I don’t think I’m going to fail everything,” Carrington said. “But I think I’m going to be a bit behind.”

It’s a valid concern. Past valedictorians of low-performing District high schools say their own transitions to college were eye-opening and at times ego-shattering, filled with revelations that — despite taking their public schools’ most difficult classes and acing them — they were not equipped to excel at the nation’s top colleges.

When these students arrived on campuses filled with students from high-flying suburban public schools and posh privates, they found a world vastly different from the one they knew in their urban high schools.

For Sache Collier, it meant writing her first research paper. For Darryl Robinson, it meant realizing that professors expected original ideas, not just regurgitated facts. For Angelica Wardell, who grew up going to school almost exclusively with African American students, it meant taking classes with whites and Asians.

And for many top D.C. graduates, it meant discarding the idea that school is easy.

“You can’t make it in college by yourself,” said Wardell, who just finished her junior year at Ohio State University. “You need professors, you need friends, you just need all the help you can get.”

Wardell said she breezed through H.D. Woodson High before graduating in 2010 and heading to Ohio State, where the workload was immediately overwhelming. And the diversity was a social shock. But her lowest point came during sophomore year, when she failed trigonometry despite pouring herself into the course.

She had taken trigonometry in high school and earned a B.

“I basically thought I was stupid,” said Wardell, 21. “I just felt like, ‘What’s wrong with me? Maybe I’m not meant to be here at one of the best schools in the nation.’ I told my mom I wanted to leave.”

It was a temporary impulse, eventually drowned out by a chorus of encouragement from friends and professors. Wardell redoubled her efforts to reach out for help and earned a C-plus on her second try at college trig. She is majoring in public health and plans to continue for a master’s degree in the same field.

“I like to challenge myself, even though sometimes it frustrates me,” Wardell said.

College can be jarring for young people no matter where they’re from or how challenging a high school they attended. But experts and educators say the transition can be particularly difficult for first-generation collegians and students from struggling inner-city schools.

Nearly two-thirds of the District’s high school graduates enroll in college, according to the D.C. College Access Program, a nonprofit organization that offers college counseling and financial assistance to students in the city’s traditional and charter schools. (Washington Post Co. chief executive Donald E. Graham is the chairman of DC CAP’s board of directors.)

Of those D.C. students who enroll in college, 38 percent earn a degree within five years, compared with 54 percent nationwide, according to DC CAP. The Office of the State Superintendent of Education said that 37 percent of D.C. students who go to college complete a four-year degree in the six years after graduating from high school.

District schools officials said they are looking for ways to improve students’ high school experiences. The need for more rigorous academics was one reason the city adopted the national Common Core standards, which demand critical thinking and problem-solving from students starting at a young age, said Melissa Salmanowitz, a schools spokeswoman.

But motivated students said they can get lost in classrooms dominated by disruptive students or students who are years behind and struggling with the basics.

Collier, the 2011 valedictorian at Ballou Senior High in Southeast Washington, said the first thing she noticed when she arrived at Penn State University was how intently her fellow students paid attention during class.

“It was like, ‘Wow, everyone’s on the same page and everyone wants to learn,’ ” Collier said. “At Ballou, it wasn’t like that at all. I was always trying to get the students quiet.”

Collier had been a star at Ballou, where fewer than one-quarter of students are proficient in math and reading. But she said that her classes largely dealt with the basics: summarizing story plots, for example, and learning how to write complete and grammatically correct sentences.

Only in her senior year, in an advanced English course, did a teacher challenge her to think more deeply. “I feel like it was too late,” said Collier, who took two of the three AP classes she said were available to her at Ballou. “It just wasn’t enough to have that kind of teacher for one year.”

In her first semester at Penn State, Collier took seminars in which professors asked her to synthesize ideas, develop arguments and do original research. It was new to her.

“We had to go into the library all the time and research articles and really, really write,” Collier said. “It was difficult for me because I hadn’t done that in high school. I didn’t have to write a lot. I didn’t really research anything.”

The 2.1 grade-point average she earned that first semester devastated her. She visited writing tutors, talked to librarians and sought out professors during office hours. Now a rising junior, her GPA is 3.38.

“I’m not the type of person to give up,” Collier said.

Sam Miguel
06-17-2013, 09:44 AM
^^^ (Cont'd )

Matthew Stuart, an AP English teacher at Dunbar, attributed students’ lack of college preparation in part to the city’s focus on annual standardized tests that demand little by way of critical thinking or problem-solving. Many teachers give students simple strategies for tackling basic essay prompts, he said, but teachers don’t have a chance to venture into more difficult and stimulating intellectual terrain until after 10th grade, the final year of standardized testing.

“They’ll teach them coping mechanisms for essays, but they never teach argument,” Stuart said. “They never teach original ideas.”

Some D.C. neighborhood schools offer more rigorous courses that better prepare their students for higher education. Seth Brown took 11 AP classes on his way to becoming the 2010 valedictorian at Wilson High in Northwest Washington.

That meant he entered Dartmouth College with credit for at least five courses under his belt. Still, he was overwhelmed during his first semester at the New Hampshire Ivy League school because he was assigned two five-page writing assignments — longer than any assignments he’d completed in high school, he said.

“It was the most daunting task,” said Brown, a rising senior at Dartmouth. “I didn’t even know where to start.”

Students almost universally said writing is a significant challenge when they get to college. Darryl Robinson, a Georgetown student and 2011 graduate of Cesar Chavez, a D.C. charter school, said it was his first college writing assignment that taught him how much he had to learn.

Asked to analyze a memoir, Robinson wrote a simple plot summary. He hadn’t known how to develop an argument and back it up. His paper received a D-minus, as he recalled in an opinion piece he wrote for The Washington Post last year.

“Other Georgetown freshmen from better schools had been trained to form original, concise thoughts within a breath, to focus less on remembering every piece of information,” Robinson wrote. “My former teachers simply did not push me to think past a basic level, to apply concepts, to move beyond memorizing facts and figures.”

Robinson went to Georgetown as part of the Community Scholars Program, meant to give low-income and first-generation college students the support they need to succeed at the elite school. He worked hard during that first year, he said, and now feels like he belongs.

Carrington, this year’s Dunbar valedictorian, is participating in the same Georgetown program. He plans to start school this summer, living on campus and taking two courses as he gets to know his new world.

An avid sports fan, he wants to major in business and someday serve as the general manager of the Washington Nationals, or maybe the Redskins. His teachers say they have no doubt that he has the patience, the fortitude and the smarts to make that happen.

They point to his commitment to playing second base for Dunbar’s baseball team, which was winless for three seasons until April, when Carrington hit a home run on the way to a victory.

“He’s extremely driven,” said his coach, Jeffery Anderson. “He has a plan for his life, and he knows what he wants to do.”

His mother, Valerie Carrington, still frets. “For the next four years, you have to do well,” she said to her son days before he graduated. “I’m going to be praying.”

Stuart, the AP English teacher, said that Johnathon Carrington will be playing catchup in college.

“As a teacher, you always wish you could have done more,” Stuart said.

In the valedictory speech to his Dunbar classmates Friday, Carrington acknowledged the challenges ahead.

“Our future will not come easy,” he said. “We achieved a great milestone in our life today, but it’s up to us to continue our road to excellence.”

06-22-2013, 11:48 AM
Reading: not easy to teach or learn

By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:12 pm | Friday, June 21st, 2013

In the June 4 edition of Public Education NewsBlast, an online weekly of the Los Angeles Education Partnership (LAEP), is a link to an article by Motoko Rich that first appeared in the New York Times titled “In Raising Scores, 1 2 3 Is Easier Than A B C.” A title as catchy as that will certainly draw attention.

The article cites classroom examples where teachers are able to help students figure out their math in an easier and more efficient way than they can reading comprehension. With math, teachers can easily diagnose where the students’ weaknesses are and drill them on the necessary skills—and in a few weeks they are fine.

Not so with reading comprehension, which appears to be the larger stumbling block to learning. The teachers are not quite certain of the problem: Can it be vocabulary, a background knowledge issue, a question of sentence length, or level of complexity of the given text? It simply takes longer to develop reading proficiency. Math is described as “close-ended,” and deciphering reading issues is more complex.

One reason offered for the difficulties that reading teachers experience is that students who come from low-income families have such literacy deficits at age four to begin with, bearing the liability of having heard 32 million words fewer from their parents than their peers with professional parents.

To prove the point that math is learned more predominantly in school (something that those who espouse everyday math will dispute, of course), a professor states: “Your mother or father doesn’t come up and tuck you in at night and read you equations. But parents do read kids bedtime stories, and kids do engage in discussions around literacy, and kids are exposed to literacy in all walks of life outside of school.” He contrasts the background knowledge of cultural and historical references that eases the reading of text, with the universality of the language of math and it being culturally neutral. An example he gives is the Pythagorean theorem, which will be as intimidating to any child regardless of social and economic background.

What are the implications for us in the Philippine setting? The link between the literacy deficits and the poverty level seems oversimplified, as affluent families do not necessarily nurture proficient readers and learners, as we all know.

It takes a considerable amount of time to learn and practice reading skills, as research and common sense indicate. But a positive sign is the evidence that “if we can take kids from kindergarten and take them through 12th grade, I think we can get there.” We have a long way to go, but we are at least headed in the right direction now.

The burden remains with the teachers, especially if the parents cannot or have been unable to provide the vocabulary and the background knowledge young readers need. Are our teachers prepared and themselves motivated?

It was a welcome indication of the importance that the current Department of Education leadership places on literacy that three days before school began, two of its undersecretaries, Francisco Varela and newly appointed Dina Ocampo, were plenary speakers at the Little Litfest of the National Book Development Board and the Museo Pambata, which focused on the children’s literature industry.

There could not have been a more apt choice than Ocampo, education undersecretary for programs and projects, as she is an impassioned advocate of reading education and the Mother Tongue-Based Multi-Lingual Education program. That should indicate where her priorities lie. She is a former dean of the University of the Philippines College of Education, where she majored in special education for her undergraduate degree and earned a master’s degree in reading education.

In her talk prepared with Leonor Diaz of the UP College of Education and which highlighted the need for teachers, parents, and students to be travel companions on the road to reading progress, Ocampo pointed out that reading comprehension happens when background knowledge overlaps with the content material. The less the overlap, the more challenging the text becomes.

Books used in classrooms need to be interesting and relevant to the students. Students like books that they are knowledgeable about. The big challenge is to match the reader to the book, to make the book not only a tool for instruction but also for motivating. One becomes a good reader by reading; it is as simple as that.

Introduce laughter and humor in books. Must learning be dour and serious? Literature is there for laughter, releasing tension, reliving different lives, and for the sheer enjoyment of it. We turn off students by making every reading piece something for utilitarian purposes, rather than allowing them to indulge in flights of fancy. Remember and heed Einstein’s words, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

We need to lead the students to see books and reading as pleasurable leisure activities. We need to empower them to make meaning out of their schoolwork and, more important, to make meaning out of their lives. We owe them that.

Sam Miguel
06-24-2013, 10:51 AM
Yale, NYU sacrifice academic freedom

By Jackson Diehl

Monday, June 24, 8:20 AM E-mail the writer

Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng claims he is being booted from his apartment and his fellowship at New York University this month because of NYU’s kowtowing to the Chinese government. The school protests mightily, claiming that it has lavished resources on Chen and never intended for his fellowship — granted after he sought refuge in the U.S. embassy in Beijing — to last for more than a year.

Here’s what’s not in dispute: NYU, as part of the most ambitious international expansion program of any U.S. university, is about to open a satellite campus in Shanghai that is being heavily subsidized by the city government. Chinese authorities haven’t hesitated in the past to punish universities and blacklist professors who cross its political red lines. And NYU already has a record of appeasing the authorities in Abu Dhabi, the site of another satellite campus.

The university is at the forefront of an exploding trend: the expansion of U.S. universities, think tanks and other cultural institutions not just to London and Paris, but to unfree countries whose governments are spending billions of dollars to buy U.S. teaching, U.S. prestige — and, perhaps, U.S. intellectual freedom. China is one of them: In addition to NYU, it is partnering with Duke to build a satellite campus, hosts smaller programs from schools including Harvard, Yale and Princeton and sent 193,000 of its own students to U.S. universities last year.

In September a joint venture between Yale and Singapore will open on a campus built and paid for by that autocracy. Then there are the Persian Gulf states. The United Arab Emirates hosts branches of Paris’s Sorbonne and the Louvre and Guggenheim museums in addition to NYU. While funding jihadists in Syria and Libya, Qatar is on its way to spending $33 billion on an “education city” hosting offshoots of Cornell, Georgetown, Northwestern, Texas A&M and Carnegie Mellon.

Is it possible to accept lucrative subsidies from dictatorships, operate campuses on their territory and still preserve the values that make American universities great, including academic freedom? The schools all say yes, pointing to pieces of paper — some of them undisclosed — that they have signed with their host governments. The real answer is: of course not.

Take Yale-National University of Singapore, a brainchild of recently departed president Richard C. Levin. When Yale’s faculty passed a resolution last year citing the “history of a lack of respect for civil and political rights” in Singapore, Levin called it “unseemly.” But several months later the new school’s governing board adopted a policy of preventing students from creating campus branches of Singaporean political parties, engaging in partisan political campaigning, or “promoting religious strife.” It also said students will be bound by Singapore’s laws, which restrict speech and ban sodomy.

In effect, as professors Seyla Benhabib and Christopher Miller argued in the Yale Daily News, “an institution bearing Yale’s name — headed by professors and staff taken from Yale-New Haven — is in the business of restricting the rights of students.”

As for academic freedom, a key test of the offshore institutions came at the height of the Arab Spring in 2011, when Nasser bin Ghaith, a lecturer at the Sorbonne campus in Abu Dhabi, was arrested and tried with four other activists for supporting democratic elections. As the scholar Alisa Rubin recounts in a forthcoming book, Human Rights Watch called on NYU and the other Western institutions there to speak up for the activists; so did more than 100 NYU faculty members.

Yet NYU joined with the Sorbonne in throwing Bin Ghaith overboard. A Sorbonne statement said the university had “no authorized means to express an opinion” because the charges against the professor were “external to his academic activities.” NYU also declined to make a statement; a spokesman said it fell outside NYU’s “core mission.” Concludes Rubin: “The Western universities . . . were not willing to risk their sweet financial deals and opulent new campuses by speaking up.”

A year later, a reporter for the Chronicle of Higher Education visited Abu Dhabi and reported that professors “use caution in broaching topics such as AIDS and prostitution; the status of migrant laborers; Israel and the Holocaust; and domestic politics and corruption. Any critical discussion of the Emirates’ ruling families is an obvious no-go zone.”

Of course, reaching out to students across the world is a worthy activity for U.S. universities. But as Harvard concluded in deciding not to follow the NYU model, such outreach can be done through innovations like open online courses. Such ventures might not bring in as much cash as NYU is getting from Abu Dhabi or Shanghai. But they also don’t create incentives for throwing dissidents into the street.

Sam Miguel
06-25-2013, 09:25 AM
Plaintiff’s life defined by high court ruling in 2003 affirmative action case

By Manuel Roig-Franzia

Tuesday, June 25, 7:24 AM E-mail the writer

She tried. Oh, she tried.

Jennifer Gratz skittered onto the corporate career track. But, nah.

She fiddled around with a political accountability project, trying to make candidates keep their promises once they got elected. But it didn’t really move her.

Gratz, 35, kept coming back to the defining spark of her life: her role as the plaintiff in a 2003 Supreme Court case challenging affirmative action in college admissions. It was the ruling in her case — combined with another ruling issued the same day — that cleared the way for colleges to continue using affirmative action in admissions.

And that’s what she could never accept. “I have a one-track mind,” she says in an interview.

Her marquee turn stands out in bas-relief on moments such as Monday morning, when the Supreme Court once again delved into affirmative action in college applications, ordering a lower court to take a tougher look at how the University of Texas uses race in admissions decisions. The high court’s anti-climactic decision was issued in the case of Abigail Fisher, a white student who challenged the University of Texas policy that allows administrators to consider race as one of the factors in deciding who is admitted. Fisher, who is white, says she was discriminated against when her 2008 application was rejected.

Gratz called the court’s decision merely “a slap on the hand” for the University of Texas, which had asked the justices to uphold its admissions policy. “The battle goes on,” Gratz said in an interview moments after the decision.

This is what happens when an American life meets an American legal precedent.

A name becomes more than just a name. Gratz becomes synonymous with an idea. Not Jen Gratz, the girl from the Detroit suburbs. But Gratz, of Gratz v. Bollinger, the student against the school president, Lee Bollinger. And even Monday, as the court revisited affirmative action, there was her name again, mentioned in the very first paragraph of the headnote of the court’s ruling in the Fisher case.

For Gratz, it all started one day in the summer of 1997, when she came home to the Detroit suburbs from the Michigan summer camp where she’d been working. Her father had spotted a newspaper article about the use of affirmative action in University of Michigan admissions. He brought it up casually, Gratz recalls. He thought his daughter, who is white, had moved on from the pain of being rejected by the university two years earlier.

Wow, was he wrong.

Gratz, then 18, chased down the author of the article. She dug up contact numbers. She called lawyers and state representatives. She had to do something.

She fell in with attorneys who had been challenging affirmative action policies. “I thought I’d end up stuffing envelopes,” she recalls. She ended up becoming their star plaintiff.

While Gratz worked on a math degree at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, her real passions were directed toward her lawsuit. On campus, all her professors knew that she was at the center of a major legal fight — the camera crews that trailed her around the school might have been a tip-off.

There was a lower court win, but on June 23, 2003 — almost exactly a decade ago — the Supreme Court had its say. And what it said filled her with pique.

Gratz was the winner, whose cause ended up being the loser. The court sided with Gratz, saying that she’d been discriminated against because the University of Michigan’s system of assigning bonus points in its ranking to minority applicants was too “mechanistic.” But Gratz’s case got lumped with another case — filed by Barbara Grutter, an applicant to the university’s law school.

In Grutter’s case, the high court endorsed the use of affirmative action to achieve a “critical mass” of minority-student enrollment. The sum result of Gratz’s and Grutter’s cases amounted to an emphatic endorsement of affirmative action in admissions. The decisions were huge. They not only reaffirmed the use of affirmative action — which had flourished in the quarter-century since the Supreme Court ruled against a rejected white applicant, Allan Bakke, who had sued the regents of the University of California — but also expanded the conditions under which race could be considered.

The defeat rankled Grutter. Two months later, an impassioned column Grutter wrote was published in the National Review Online. In the piece, she called the ruling “neither wise nor just.”

By the time the court had ruled in their cases, Gratz had gotten married, moved to San Diego and launched her career as a computer software expert. Her wedding was just six months before the Supreme Court’s ruling, and she decided to keep her maiden name rather than put her attorneys through the considerable trouble of filing paperwork to reflect a name change. Later, once her name became associated with ballot campaigns against racial preferences in school admissions and government hiring, it made practical sense to retain the familiar moniker. To this day, she says, people sometimes unknowingly call her husband “Mr. Gratz.”

“He barely tolerates it,” she says with a giggle. “Kind of like the Supreme Court with racial preferences. How’s that for tying it all together?”

She never anticipated this cause becoming her life. But it had.

In the days after the court ruled in 2003, the sting of the decision was too much. She told her husband that she was quitting her job and going back to Michigan to work on the issue that consumed her so. Gratz was soon jetting around the country, pushing for state ballot initiatives to accomplish what her lawsuit could not.

She helped win victories in a handful of states, reducing race and gender preferences in education, employment and contracting. From time to time, someone would approach her about running for office. In 2007, she says, a big wheel in Michigan’s Republican Party even gauged her interest in running for the U.S. Senate. Nah, she thought. She’d seen how ugly politics could get.

Even when she thought she’d just blend in, when it felt as if the years had wiped her name from the collective consciousness, her notoriety would follow her. She’d meet an attorney or an activist, and there would be a double-take. “Gratz, Gratz,” people would say. “Why do I know that name?” It happened just few days ago at a cocktail party in Naples, Fla., where a friend introduced her to another guest. She saw that familiar look on his face, that instant when she could tell he was scrolling through reference points in his mind. “Gratz!” he exclaimed. “As in Gratz versus Bollinger?”

“I turn a little pink,” she says.

In the end, though, it wasn’t those bursts of recognition that have steered her. It’s what she recognizes about herself: Affirmative action is her thing. Last year, she set in motion a group to push the issue further, the XIV Foundation, named for the 14th Amendment.

“Universities will hold on to these decisions for as long as they are comfortable,” Gratz says. “Our side has to find ways to make it uncomfortable for university administrators to socially engineer their campuses based on race.”

She’s planning projects related to next year’s 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. “I believe the dream of the 1964 Civil Rights Act was colorblind government,” she says. “I’m not sure we’re on the right path to truly colorblind government.”

It will be easy for her to figure out how to celebrate her victories in years to come: with something cold. She and her husband just opened a new business near their home in Southwest Florida: a micro-brewery.

Sam Miguel
06-25-2013, 09:32 AM
Does a well-off black student deserve affirmative action?

By Negassi Tesfamichael

Tuesday, June 25, 7:37 AM

Negassi Tesfamichael will be a senior at Marquette University High School in Milwaukee.

When I apply to college this fall, I will mark the box labeled “Black or African American” on the Common Application. As the implications of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Fisher v. University of Texas become understood and the nation examines the role race plays in achieving diversity, I wonder whether I should qualify for affirmative action.

I defy many black stereotypes. I grew up in a quiet suburb, where I have never faced a dangerous situation. My parents have been happily married for 18 years. I attend private school, and my standardized test scores rank in the 90th percentile. I never have had an encounter with the law. (My worst offenses are overdue library books.)

I also have never had to worry about where my next meal would come from or whether my family has the resources for me to even consider applying to college. But while my family is well off now, that wasn’t always the case. My parents came to the United States after fleeing war in Eritrea. They had to work very hard to achieve the financial stability we now enjoy.

So, should affirmative-action efforts apply to me?

In 2003, the high court ruled in Grutter v. Bollinger that race could play a limited role in public universities’ admissions policies. Many opponents of affirmative-action programs would say that I have economic advantages and that people who are well off underscore why colleges nationwide should dissolve the kind of race-based considerations that Abigail Fisher, a white student, claimed kept her out of the University of Texas.

Private and public universities seek diverse student bodies under the thinking that multiple and varied perspectives lead to a better classroom experience. Texas’s Top 10 Percent program, by guaranteeing admission to state-funded schools to all who finish at the top of their high school class, helps many minority students from struggling schools gain admission to public colleges. Many top colleges have full-time minority recruitment programs. With only 5 percent of African American high school students meeting all of the ACT college readiness benchmarks in 2012, it’s easy to see why a smart black kid is a rarity whom such recruiters would seek out.

Some aspects to my life are influenced by but not unique to my race: We speak multiple languages in my home, and not all college applicants get to see this country through an immigrant’s lens. I have also had experiences that are only about my being black.

Affirmative action is aimed at promoting diversity, a legitimate principle whose merits are often derided or abused. Many supporters believe that affirmative action is needed for the benefit of minority students who could not otherwise move up in society or to make up for wrongs done to past generations. Yet as President Obama said in May to graduates of historically black Morehouse College, “We’ve got no time for excuses.”

Who today really thinks that they can survive in the 21st-century workforce with no ability to communicate and collaborate with people different from themselves? There should be some appreciation for the diverse backgrounds of all Americans. As a student trying to learn and grow, I appreciate views that help me see the world more clearly.

I understand that many would say that people like me don’t need any sort of affirmative action. Some of us probably could get into a college without efforts to ensure diversity. But I’m glad the holistic admissions process practiced by most colleges remains in place. They give more people the opportunity to contribute and allow others to benefit from and appreciate uniqueness, regardless of whether that is based on race alone.

Sam Miguel
06-25-2013, 09:39 AM
Court ruling continues to stir debate about college admissions

By Nick Anderson

Tuesday, June 25, 8:59 AM E-mail the writer

The Supreme Court’s decision Monday to force another look at the legality of race-conscious admissions at the University of Texas is likely to intensify debate about affirmative action at colleges and universities nationwide.

The high court affirmed its precedents on the use of race in college admissions but ruled that courts reviewing college policies must consider whether “workable race-neutral alternatives would produce the educational benefits of diversity.”

Several states have banned racial preferences in public university admissions since the 1990s, and instead have sought to achieve diversity through other means. Experts said the ruling is likely to spur widespread internal reviews of school policies to ensure that they comply with the law.

Some analysts say that initiatives already in use, on the whole, show that it is possible to assemble a balanced class of incoming students by focusing on factors such as family income and geography instead of skin color and ethnicity. Others say that race remains an essential ingredient for admissions officers seeking to ensure diversity.

At public colleges in Maryland and Virginia, admissions officers have repeatedly defended the use of race in what is known in the field as a “holistic” review of applications. They had been awaiting the ruling in the Texas case to find out whether those policies would be struck down. For now, the court has left them intact.

“We have not been told through this ruling that anything we’re currently doing is contrary to law,” said Henry Broaddus, dean of admission at the public College of William & Mary in Virginia.

Shannon R. Gundy, director of admissions at the University of Maryland, said she was pleased that the ruling continued to allow the consideration of race and ethnicity among 26 factors in U-Md. admissions.

But Gundy predicted that schools everywhere will review their policies.

“Conversations have to be had,” Gundy said. “What are we doing? How are we doing it? And are we doing everything we possibly can to be sure we’re doing it appropriately in the legal framework?”

Richard D. Kahlenberg, an analyst with the left-leaning Century Foundation, contends that viable alternatives to race-based admissions are underway in places such as Florida. Since that state banned the use of race in admissions in 2001, the University of Florida has managed to increase the number of Hispanic students significantly, according to a foundation report. The black share of enrollment has been up and down.

In an effort to maintain diversity without considering race, the report found, the university stepped up outreach to minority high school students and bolstered scholarships for first-generation college students from low-income families. Florida also began a “Talented 20” program to ensure that students in the top 20 percent of their high school graduating class could obtain slots at state universities — regardless of race — and it took steps to consider students’ socioeconomic backgrounds.

Kahlenberg said that, after Monday’s ruling, “universities are going to be really pushed to justify the use of race.” He added, “I think this will push universities toward alternatives: class-based, economic affirmative action.”

Other analysts, contending that racial affirmative action remains necessary, point to the experience of California.

The nation’s most populous state banned racial preferences in public university admissions through a 1996 voter referendum. The share of black and Hispanic students at the University of California’s prestigious Berkeley and Los Angeles campuses fell significantly and has not recovered. The stagnant population of Hispanic students at UCLA and UC-Berkeley stands in sharp contrast to the state’s booming Hispanic population.

The UC system has increased minority outreach, built partnerships with K-12 schools and banned “legacy” preferences for alumni, which are often considered an obstacle to racial diversity. The nine-campus system considers socioeconomic background, and it seeks to guarantee admission for those ranked at or near the top of their class.

But analysts say those steps have not raised the share of black and Hispanic students at the system’s top two schools.

“The record shows we tried pretty much everything that seemed feasible,” said Patricia Gandara, an education professor and co-director of the Civil Rights Project at UCLA. “The university tried to be responsible in this. But the diversity challenge is getting more and more difficult.”

Many public and private universities had urged the Supreme Court to preserve the status quo in admissions.

Monday’s ruling “is a complex one, but it does make clear that colleges and universities will have work to do,” said Molly Corbett Broad, president of the American Council on Education, which represents college presidents. “Each institution will need to show that any process that considers race and ethnicity as part of a holistic admissions review is precisely tailored to meet the goals of achieving the educational benefits that flow from diversity.”

Sam Miguel
06-26-2013, 09:57 AM
Making kids get that ‘A’ in health

By Tessa R. Salazar

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:48 pm | Friday, June 21st, 2013

A month into the beginning of the school year, most parents may be worried not only of their kids’ grades, but about their health as well.

More than just the “conventional” health drives initiated by many other schools, the schools mentioned here have employed a long-term plan to ensure that their students are not only healthy, but also ready to face more health challenges in their adulthood.

A growing number of schools are taking to heart lifestyle-disease prevention and are launching a “revolution” in their cafeterias. For instance, an elementary school in New York City has become the first in the States to go all-vegetarian.

First US public school

The New York Daily News reported that Public School 244 in Flushing has been the first public school in the nation to serve all-vegetarian meals for breakfast and lunch. Among the items in its cafeteria menu are whole grain sunrise carrot bread with hot cereal, roasted organic tofu with cacciatore sauce, whole grain pasta and roasted zucchini, “superhero” spinach wrap with cucumber salad, chickpea falafel in a soft wheat wrap with chopped romaine, fresh diced tomatos and cucumber salad.

The New York Daily News quoted Eric Goldstein, chief executive of the Office of School Support Services for the city Education Department, as saying that city public schools have undergone a “revolution” in their cafeteria fare since Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office.

The Washington Times, in its story “Bloomberg launches vegetarian-only school lunch,” reported that the school’s switch to vegan fare comes amid a years-long drive from Bloomberg to improve the health choices of city residents. He has also compelled restaurants to post calorie counts and ban the use of trans fats.

Recent studies have shown that elevated blood cholesterol levels have been closely related with fatal heart disease. The Washington-based Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine cited that dietary cholesterol comes from animal products like pork, beef, poultry, eggs, milk, cheese and yogurt.

In the Philippines, there are now several school cafeterias that have gone vegetarian, including Adventist-run universities. A small school in Bulacan, however, needs special mention. The Sophia School in Meycauayan, Bulacan, decided in 2012 to offer vegetarian-only meals on Mondays, and vegetarian options Tuesdays to Fridays. Shelving the conventional meat- and dairy-based fare provided Sophia School added revenues from the brisk sales. The canteen began to offer fresh vegetables and vege-meat (or vegetable fiber that tastes like meat), fruits and grains.

Today, Sophia School administrator Lorenzo Abacan (a psychologist), and principal Marie Ann Abacan (a nutritionist-dietician) affirm that their school is quite literally going strong with the vegetarian effort.

Germ hotspots

But there’s more to overall health than diet. Another health challenge that kids face is germs.

During the recent Procter & Gamble (P&G) Germ Academy media event, hygiene advocates pointed to germ “hotspots” which people are constantly in touch with, literally. With a germ-detection device called luminometer (photometric instrument that detects a sample’s level of contamination), the hotspots were found to be cell phones, ballpens, bag straps, wristwatch, identification cards, computer keyboards and computer mouse.

“We have to think holistically and determine all possible germ hotspots, because it can happen at different points and different times of the day,” said Clint Navales, P&G country communications leader.

“We would like to make it clear that no one is exempted from getting germs, whether you’re rich or poor. Whenever you are sick, there is an increased opportunity for germs to spread, especially in homes. You will find germs in different parts of the home such as kitchens and bathrooms, but the most important thing is to be knowledgeable in identifying the places where germs will most likely spread,” Health Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag said.

Sam Miguel
07-12-2013, 09:58 AM
61,510 teaching positions remain unfilled by DepEd

By Dona Z. Pazzibugan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:52 am | Friday, July 12th, 2013

More than a month after the start of the academic year, the Department of Education (DepEd) has yet to fill up all the 61,510 new teacher positions created in its P293.32 billion budget for the year.

Of the available positions, DepEd has hired only 55,848 teachers as of July 11 for the country’s more than 46,000 public schools.

But DepEd said it has hastened the recruitment and hiring process which used to take about eight months.

“By working closely with the Civil Service Commission (CSC) and the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), DepEd was able to reduce the hiring process to five months,” DepEd communications director Patrick Salamat said.

He said the CSC and the PRC have minimized the delays in verifying and certifying the license of the hired teachers.

Since Congress approved the 2013 national budget in November last year and was signed into law by the President the following month, he said DepEd was able to start the recruitment during the first quarter of 2013.

Some divisions and regional offices were even able to fill up more than half of their allotted new teaching positions within three months.

Of the 61,510 new positions, 10,000 are for kindergarten, 17,776 for elementary and 33,734 for high schools.

When classes resumed last June 3, DepEd reported that the shortage of teachers in public schools as of 2010 stood at 145,000.

This represented only the backlog in the number of teachers that should have been hired in the past several years.

As of February, 36,923 teachers have been hired on top of the 61,510 new teachers that were supposed to start teaching last month.

According to DepEd officials, they need to hire more than 10,000 new teachers each year to meet the ever increasing enrollment in public schools where about 2 million new students are added annually.

DepEd officials confirmed that many teachers from private schools have applied in public schools due to the reverse in compensation.

The starting monthly salary in public schools is about P19,000 compared to P8,000 to P14,000 in private schools.

Until the K to 12 law was passed, only education graduates who have passed the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET) may teach in elementary and high school under Republic Act No. 7836.

The new law allows DepEd and private high schools to hire professional practitioners, noneducation graduates and even college faculty members who do not necessarily have to pass the LET to teach in high school.

Sam Miguel
07-12-2013, 10:41 AM
Science against poverty

By Michael L. Tan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:26 pm | Thursday, July 11th, 2013

Medicines from poisonous sea snails? Gasoline substitutes from coconut oil?

These were just two of many local scientific research findings that drew “Ganoon ba (Is that so)?” reactions during the 35th annual meeting of the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) on July 10-11.

NAST is the Philippines’ highest advisory body on science and includes 13 National Scientists and 49 National Academicians from the natural and social sciences, mathematics, agriculture, engineering and medicine. The annual meeting includes many other scientists who are not (yet) NAST members, especially younger ones, presenting papers and getting awards for their research.

This year’s meeting highlighted a very practical application of scientific R&D (research and development): addressing poverty. The first day’s presentations were by economists, a horticulturist, a marine scientist, a chemist, an industrial engineer, and a physician, all showing how science and technology can be harnessed to reverse the decline of the Philippine manufacturing sector, a decline seen as a root cause of widespread and persistent poverty.

The day started with a keynote address delivered by Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan, who is also the director-general of the National Economic and Development Authority. Balisacan is himself a National Academician, and an economist, belonging to the NAST’s tiny social science division (which includes an anthropologist writing for the Inquirer).

Balisacan reminded the audience about how far we’ve lagged behind neighboring countries with our neglect of the manufacturing sector and how this hampers the country’s ability to reduce poverty. Our economy needs to move from being consumption-driven (mainly buying other countries’ manufactured goods) to one driven by investments in the manufacturing sector. These investments catalyze economic growth by creating more jobs.

Just as important is the development of a manufacturing sector that goes for higher value products in a global supply chain. That’s where the scientists can come in. The science and technology sector is also vital for developing new manufacturing technologies, and, through educational institutions, training the succeeding generations to keep moving R&D forward.

After the keynote speech, the papers that followed were recaps of a series of roundtables organized by the NAST last year around this theme of reviving the manufacturing sector. I will focus on two papers that demonstrate how scientists can contribute to this endeavor.

Marine biofactories

One, by Dr. Marie Antonette J. Menez, director of the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute, describes the potentials of marine “biofactories” for manufacturing. It starts out with a reminder that the Philippines is a center of marine biodiversity, and the world’s fifth largest fish producer. Yet, the 6 million Filipinos who depend on fishing are among the poorest of the poor.

Marine biofactories can develop even from fish discards—for example, bangus scales converted into “pearl essence” used for lipstick, nail polish, and ceramic glaze. Tilapia skins, it turns out, can be converted into soft and supple leather. Tuna discards can be used to extract omega-3 oils, good for cardiovascular health.

Fish wastes can also yield stable biofuels. Remember when everyone was talking about biofuel? The idea was to grow more plants that can yield oils to convert into petroleum substitutes. But the problem with plant biofuel production is that it uses up land that can instead be planted with food crops. Converting fish wastes into biofuel will not involve this kind of displacement of arable land.

Menez also cited specific groups of marine species with economic potential, beginning with algae. There’s carrageenan, used for pet food, water gels, meat and dairy fillers. Sargassum, the brown algae you find littering our beaches, can yield anti-inflammatory and anticancer drugs. Seaweeds, like the fish waste products, can also be converted into biofuel.

Marine invertebrates are not just food but also sources of medicines. Venomous marine snails have chemicals that can be substitutes for morphine, which is so important for pain management in patients with cancer. Other marine invertebrates yield chemicals that can be used as antibiotics, anticoagulants, antioxidants. Sea cucumbers (trepang, a culinary favorite among the Chinese) also have potentials as medicines and personal care products.

The potentials seem endless, a point made more dramatic when Menez mentioned that we have 13,100 species of sea snails, which can yield up to 2 million different chemicals.

And what’s most exciting about the potentials of marine biofactories is that there are now mariculture projects involving communities, with some successful projects in the poverty-stricken Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Copra politics

From the marine biofactories, we moved to coconut products in a paper presented by Dr. Fabian Dayrit, dean of the Ateneo de Manila School of Engineering and Science. Like the fishing communities, coconut farmers are among the poorest Filipinos, exploited by coconut landlords and copra-processing businessmen.

Dayrit explained that copra processing dates back to the 19th century and that it’s time we moved to products with higher value. Virgin coconut oil and coco sugar are probably the most familiar to Filipino consumers, but there is an astounding number of other products that can be derived from coconut oil, from glycerine (an important industrial chemical) to medicines, biofuels and bioplastics.

The most impressive chart Dayrit had was one showing what “value added” means. Crude coconut fetches $830 per metric ton, but if this oil can be processed, its value increases, reaching up to $3,900 per metric ton when isopropyl myristate is derived from the oil.

Dayrit talked about how our neighbors, Malaysia and Indonesia, have their oleochemical industries (mainly palm, but also with coconut) are integrated from planting to processing, with government support. In contrast, investors are reluctant about the Philippines because the government has no clear long-term plans for developing our coconut industry.

The government claims that our being a poor country is why we don’t have enough funds for science, not recognizing that unless more support is provided to scientific R&D, we will remain poor.

Then, too, there is politics involved. Dayrit mentioned in passing the controversies around the coconut levy funds. These were mainly squeezed out of the copra farmers from 1973 to 1982, supposedly as “forced savings” for the families so the funds could be used to develop the coconut industry. Instead, Eduardo Cojuangco used levy funds to buy into United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB). Last year the Supreme Court ruled that the levy funds were public money and therefore the UCPB shares bought with those funds are also public property or, more specifically, the coconut farmers’.

Cojuangco appealed the ruling but on Wednesday, the day we were listening to Dayrit’s paper on the coconut industry, the Supreme Court upheld its 2012 ruling.

Let’s see now if some of the coconut farmers’ money will go into R&D that will benefit them.

07-21-2013, 08:09 AM
What academic freedom?

By Romeo F. Quijano

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:04 am | Saturday, July 20th, 2013

The Inquirer ran an advertisement last June 22 titled “Professional Scientific Societies Support Bt Talong Field Trials. UPLB Will Ask the Court of Appeals to Reconsider its Decision to Stop the Field Trials of Bt Talong.”

The signatories in the ad claimed that the CA ruling was “against academic freedom” without explaining what, how and why. They apparently considered restrictions to the conduct of their research on Bt Talong (eggplant), despite the potential likelihood of serious and irreversible harm to health and the environment, as an assault on their “academic freedom.” This claim is utterly preposterous.

Academic freedom is not absolute. The “academic freedom” invoked by the signatories ends where fundamental human rights begin. Considerations of “academic freedom”—in this case, freedom to do field-trial research on Bt eggplant—is nowhere as important as considerations of health and environment. The right to health and a healthful environment are fundamental rights that “academic freedom” cannot supersede. Whatever benefits that may result from the research cannot weigh more than the potential harm it may cause.

The CA ruling applied the precautionary principle stating that “in a human activity, project or program wherein science has not yet arrived at any consensus of its safety, the government, specifically the regulator, must take precautionary … [and] preventive measures so as to avoid or prevent or mitigate threats to health or to the environment.” If the signatories get what they want, the principle of precaution will fall by the wayside and the public will face serious threats to their health and environment.

It is not the CA ruling that violates academic freedom. It is the corporate hijacking of research in the state university that is seriously undermining academic freedom. The field-trial research on Bt Talong is largely directed and funded by the transnational corporation Monsanto, and the faculty and researchers involved in the field trials have become its instruments and are no longer independent researchers. The Bt Talong researchers and the professional societies backing them and blatantly promoting corporate propaganda have actually surrendered their academic freedom to their corporate patron. They serve, not the public interest, but corporate interest.

Academic freedom means the independent pursuit of academic excellence and scholarly work, unbiased promotion and dissemination of knowledge, and freedom to express opinions without undue interference or influence from big business or the authorities, for the benefit of the public and humanity in general. When a researcher, a professor or a student surrenders his/her independence to a corporate sponsor, he/she can no longer claim academic freedom.

The same is true with a public university that allows the intrusion of profit-oriented corporations into its academic and research programs. Corporate donation or investment in a public university such as the University of the Philippines is motivated by profit and “self-interest.” Intellectual property laws allow corporate donors to exercise ownership rights over patentable products despite the fact that the university’s resources (human and otherwise) provide the largest contribution to the discovery or development of a marketable and patentable product. In essence, big business is socializing its research costs and privatizing the profits.

Granting intellectual property rights to the corporate donor also impedes the free flow of critical information necessary for further independent research for the benefit of the people. The corporation has become the custodian of knowledge and, almost always, will not share that knowledge with other researchers, students, or the public.

This process, therefore, results in the privatization of knowledge. Such a situation is clearly against public interest and contrary to the established concepts of academic freedom.

Romeo F. Quijano (romyquij@yahoo.com) is a medical doctor and toxicologist, and a professor at the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology of the University of the Philippines Manila.

Sam Miguel
08-05-2013, 08:09 AM
One school at a time

By Myra Mabugat-Menguito

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:13 pm | Friday, August 2nd, 2013

Education is learning. Learning involves change, which impacts not only the individual but also the community where one thrives. Effective education and learning desire to create an impact on a person, a learning institution, and the community as a whole.

Inspired by the Mentoring the Mentors Program pushed by Eugenia Apostol way back in 2002 and which is still doing great service to several learning institutions, the CFC Educational Foundation Inc. (CFCEFI), likewise guided by its advocacy that education is a right and not a privilege, was led to “adopt” several schools, particularly those under the public education system.

The Eggie Apostol Foundation’s community-driven strategy is called the Education Revolution. It aims to engage the entire community to strategically plan for a sustained education improvement initiative. It is highlighted by a two-pronged approach—anchored on the Department of Education’s Adopt-A-School Program (ASP)—that simultaneously addresses the need to improve teacher quality and heightens the local community’s awareness that good schools are indicators of a vibrant community.

Today, the Mentoring the Mentors Program is fully and independently managed by the Marie Eugenie Foundation, but the familiar faces are still there: Chinit Rufino is still at the helm of things, while Eve Mejillano and Celia Adriano continue to provide academic guidance while inspiring teachers in the process.

Initial discussions with ASP operations manager Merlie J. Asprer revealed the niche where school adoption is maximized. Several partner-institutions of the ASP offer very valuable contributions for school reform. These include infrastructure improvement services, continuing education programs to enhance educators’ teaching skills, curriculum enhancement programs for a more enriched academic program, and other learning packages that truly assist public schools to develop competitive students and graduates.

With all of these programs on school adoption presented to the CFCEFI, the latter brought before the ASP a menu of services it hoped would be a contribution to Philippine education. It crafted modules focusing on enhancing character formation for stakeholders of any given learning institution: its students, their parents, and, of course, the teaching and nonteaching staff. This menu was affirmed by the ASP as our niche. Soon enough, the learning packages were approved and the partnership between CFCEFI and the DepEd was sealed by a memorandum of agreement.

Several public schools in Quezon City have been adopted since 2007: Bagumbayan Elementary School, Libis Elementary School, P. Bernardo Elementary School, Kamuning Elementary School, and Malaya Elementary School. Education reform was initiated through regular values formation programs for the stakeholders. The school heads affirmed how the sessions have helped in terms of creating a healthier school atmosphere beginning with a healthier home environment.

The desire to move from one school to another and the opportunity to adopt more schools must be a shared goal by not only the adopting entity but, more importantly, by key players in education. Of prime value is establishing strong relationships with education officials on the ground (division superintendents, district supervisors, school heads, and even their OICs). The CFCEFI is fortunate enough to have allies not only in the ASP’s Asprer but also in Merucuria F. Ganaden, guidance head of the DepEd Quezon City Division and district supervisor of the Quezon City DepEd. Ganaden was very instrumental in bringing our school adoption program to other schools within and outside of the city.

It has also become apparent how a principal’s openness to link with individual and corporate partnerships spells the success of any undertaking of the institutions they lead. Very notable were the efforts made by Thelma Co (a school principal with whom the CFCEFI has been working since her headship at Bagumbayan Elementary School in 2006, at Libis Elementary School in 2009, and now at Kamuning Elementary School) and Maricris Suarez-Santos (with whom we have been collaborating since her headship at Malaya Elementary School in 2009, at P. Bernardo Elementary School in 2010, and now at Tomas Morato Elementary School).

Likewise, another great realization in education reform through school adoption is the value of knowing the other partner-institutions and their program offerings, as this allows collaboration for the benefit of the adopted institutions, thereby opening the floodgates for linkages.

Motivated by these initial responses from our adopted schools, the CFCEFI has launched a school adoption movement called “ACTS” or Advocating Change Through Schools. The aim is to involve partners from the academe, corporations, and individuals to support character formation programs that will enhance teaching, learning, and family life, thus redounding to healthier communities and a healthier country. This movement will be offered to elementary and secondary schools in the public and private sectors.

Indeed, there is so much promise in school adoption. We simply look beyond the faces of the students, their parents, and the teaching and nonteaching staff. We simply see the hope in each one of them.

08-06-2013, 12:18 PM
From Yahoo ___

The $4 million Teacher

Kim Ki-hoon earns $4 million a year in South Korea, where he is known as a rock-star teacher—a combination of words not typically heard in the rest of the world. Mr. Kim has been teaching for over 20 years, all of them in the country's private, after-school tutoring academies, known as hagwons. Unlike most teachers across the globe, he is paid according to the demand for his skills—and he is in high demand.

Mr. Kim works about 60 hours a week teaching English, although he spends only three of those hours giving lectures. His classes are recorded on video, and the Internet has turned them into commodities, available for purchase online at the rate of $4 an hour. He spends most of his week responding to students' online requests for help, developing lesson plans and writing accompanying textbooks and workbooks (some 200 to date).

"The harder I work, the more I make," he says matter of factly. "I like that."

I traveled to South Korea to see what a free market for teaching talent looks like—one stop in a global tour to discover what the U.S. can learn from the world's other education superpowers. Thanks in part to such tutoring services, South Korea has dramatically improved its education system over the past several decades and now routinely outperforms the U.S. Sixty years ago, most South Koreans were illiterate; today, South Korean 15-year-olds rank No. 2 in the world in reading, behind Shanghai. The country now has a 93% high-school graduation rate, compared with 77% in the U.S.

Tutoring services are growing all over the globe, from Ireland to Hong Kong and even in suburban strip malls in California and New Jersey. Sometimes called shadow education systems, they mirror the mainstream system, offering after-hours classes in every subject—for a fee. But nowhere have they achieved the market penetration and sophistication of hagwons in South Korea, where private tutors now outnumber schoolteachers.

Viewed up close, this shadow system is both exciting and troubling. It promotes striving and innovation among students and teachers alike, and it has helped South Korea become an academic superpower. But it also creates a bidding war for education, delivering the best services to the richest families, to say nothing of its psychological toll on students. Under this system, students essentially go to school twice—once during the day and then again at night at the tutoring academies. It is a relentless grind.

The bulk of Mr. Kim's earnings come from the 150,000 kids who watch his lectures online each year. (Most are high-school students looking to boost their scores on South Korea's version of the SAT.) He is a brand name, with all the overhead that such prominence in the market entails. He employs 30 people to help him manage his teaching empire and runs a publishing company to produce his books.

To call this mere tutoring is to understate its scale and sophistication. Megastudy, the online hagwon that Mr. Kim works for, is listed on the South Korean stock exchange. (A Megastudy official confirmed Mr. Kim's annual earnings.) Nearly three of every four South Korean kids participate in the private market. In 2012, their parents spent more than $17 billion on these services. That is more than the $15 billion spent by Americans on videogames that year, according to the NPD Group, a research firm. The South Korean education market is so profitable that it attracts investments from firms like Goldman Sachs, the Carlyle Group and A.I.G.

It was thrilling to meet Mr. Kim—a teacher who earns the kind of money that professional athletes make in the U.S. An American with his ambition and abilities might have to become a banker or a lawyer, but in South Korea, he had become a teacher, and he was rich anyway.

The idea is seductive: Teaching well is hard, so why not make it lucrative? Even if American schools will never make teachers millionaires, there are lessons to be learned from this booming educational bazaar, lessons about how to motivate teachers, how to captivate parents and students and how to adapt to a changing world.

To find rock-star teachers like Mr. Kim, hagwon directors scour the Internet, reading parents' reviews and watching teachers' lectures. Competing hagwons routinely try to poach one another's celebrity tutors. "The really good teachers are hard to retain—and hard to manage. You need to protect their egos," says Lee Chae-yun, who owns a chain of five hagwons in Seoul called Myungin Academy.

The most radical difference between traditional schools and hagwons is that students sign up for specific teachers, so the most respected teachers get the most students. Mr. Kim has about 120 live, in-person students per lecture, but a typical teacher's hagwon classes are much smaller. The Korean private market has reduced education to the one in-school variable that matters most: the teacher.

It is about as close to a pure meritocracy as it can be, and just as ruthless. In hagwons, teachers are free agents. They don't need to be certified. They don't have benefits or even a guaranteed base salary; their pay is based on their performance, and most of them work long hours and earn less than public school teachers.

Performance evaluations are typically based on how many students sign up for their classes, their students' test-score growth and satisfaction surveys given to students and parents. "How passionate is the teacher?" asks one hagwon's student survey—the results of which determine 60% of the instructor's evaluation. "How well-prepared is the teacher?" (In 2010, researchers funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation found classroom-level surveys like this to be surprisingly reliable and predictive of effective teaching in the U.S., yet the vast majority of our schools still don't use them.)

08-06-2013, 12:19 PM
^ (Continued)

"Students are the customers," Ms. Lee says. To recruit students, hagwons advertise their results aggressively. They post their graduates' test scores and university acceptance figures online and outside their entrances on giant posters. It was startling to see such openness; in the U.S., despite our fetish for standardized testing, the results remain confusing and hard to interpret for parents.

Once students enroll, the hagwon embeds itself in families' lives. Parents get text messages when their children arrive at the academies each afternoon; then they get another message relaying students' progress. Two to three times a month, teachers call home with feedback. Every few months, the head of the hagwon telephones, too. In South Korea, if parents aren't engaged, that is considered a failure of the educators, not the family.

If tutors get low survey marks or attract too few students, they generally get placed on probation. Each year, Ms. Lee fires about 10% of her instructors. (By comparison, U.S. schools dismiss about 2% of public school teachers annually for poor performance.)

All of this pressure creates real incentives for teachers, at least according to the kids. In a 2010 survey of 6,600 students at 116 high schools conducted by the Korean Educational Development Institute, Korean teenagers gave their hagwon teachers higher scores across the board than their regular schoolteachers: Hagwon teachers were better prepared, more devoted to teaching and more respectful of students' opinions, the teenagers said. Interestingly, the hagwon teachers rated best of all when it came to treating all students fairly, regardless of the students' academic performance.

Private tutors are also more likely to experiment with new technology and nontraditional forms of teaching. In a 2009 book on the subject, University of Hong Kong professor Mark Bray urged officials to pay attention to the strengths of the shadow markets, in addition to the perils. "Policy makers and planners should…ask why parents are willing to invest considerable sums of money to supplement the schooling received from the mainstream," he writes. "At least in some cultures, the private tutors are more adventurous and client-oriented."

But are students actually learning more in hagwons? That is a surprisingly hard question to answer. World-wide, the research is mixed, suggesting that the quality of after-school lessons matters more than the quantity. And price is at least loosely related to quality, which is precisely the problem. The most affluent kids can afford one-on-one tutoring with the most popular instructors, while others attend inferior hagwons with huge class sizes and less reliable instruction—or after-hours sessions offered free by their public schools. Eight out of 10 South Korean parents say they feel financial pressure from hagwon tuition costs. Still, most keep paying the fees, convinced that the more they pay, the more their children will learn.

For decades, the South Korean government has been trying to tame the country's private-education market. Politicians have imposed curfews and all manner of regulations on hagwons, even going so far as to ban them altogether during the 1980s, when the country was under military rule. Each time the hagwons have come back stronger.

"The only solution is to improve public education," says Mr. Kim, the millionaire teacher, echoing what the country's education minister and dozens of other Korean educators told me. If parents trusted the system, the theory goes, they wouldn't resort to paying high fees for extra tutoring.

To create such trust, Mr. Kim suggests paying public-school teachers significantly more money according to their performance—as hagwons do. Then the profession could attract the most skilled, accomplished candidates, and parents would know that the best teachers were the ones in their children's schools—not in the strip mall down the street.

Schools can also build trust by aggressively communicating with parents and students, the way businesses already do to great effect in the U.S. They could routinely survey students about their teachers—in ways designed to help teachers improve and not simply to demoralize them. Principals could make their results far more transparent, as hagwons do, and demand more rigorous work from students and parents at home in exchange. And teacher-training programs could become far more selective and serious, as they are in every high-performing education system in the world—injecting trust and prestige into the profession before a teacher even enters the classroom.

No country has all the answers. But in an information-driven global economy, a few truths are becoming universal: Children need to know how to think critically in math, reading and science; they must be driven; and they must learn how to adapt, since they will be doing it all their lives. These demands require that schools change, too—or the free market may do it for them.

The author, Ms. Ripley, is an Emerson Fellow at the New America Foundation.

Sam Miguel
08-08-2013, 08:35 AM
Philippine history


By Isagani Cruz (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 8, 2013 - 12:00am

The second of the eight required core courses mandated by CMO 20, series of 2013, is “Readings in Philippine History / Mga Babasahin hinggil sa Kasaysayan ng Pilipinas.”

“Not again?” I can almost hear students groan.

Not really. This core course in the new General Education Curriculum (GEC) is not like the history subjects offered in elementary and secondary school, nor is it at all like the Philippine History subject that was in the old GEC.

The description tells it all: “Philippine History viewed from the lens of selected primary sources in different periods, analysis and interpretation. / Mga piling primaryang sanggunian ukol sa iba’t ibang yugto ng kasaysayan ng Pilipinas, pagsusuri at interpretasyon.”

(By the way, for the sake of neatness, I will use “Pilipinas” rather than “Filipinas,” the official recommendation of the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino, which is the only government body tasked with standardizing spelling in the national language. Let it be known, however, that I am for changing the name of the country to “Filipinas,” for reasons that have to do with linguistics rather than history. But that will be another column.)

In all the history subjects taught so far in our country, except possibly for those taken by history majors in graduate school, students read historians. There is nothing wrong with historians. In fact, if we did not have historians, we would not know much about history.

In the new K to 12 curriculum, however, students will have their fill of historians. In college, students should read primary sources, which are texts that were created, written, and/or published during the times that we now consider to be history.

Let us take a simple example. Instead of reading a biography of Rizal to find out if he retracted, students will now read Rizal’s own letter of retraction. Students will then have to learn enough Spanish to read this: “Me retracto de todo corazon de cuanto en mis palabras, escritos, impresos y conducta ha habido contrario á mi cualidad de hijo de la Iglesia Católica.” That will not be hard, because several of the words in this sentence are familiar to speakers of Tagalog (todo, corazon, palabras, escritos, hijo, Iglesia, Catolica) or English (retracto, impresos, conducta, contrario, cualidad).

Instead of trying to figure out who is more believable (Austin Coates or Austin Craig, just to take historians with the same first names), they should study what Rizal himself and people who were actually there at that time wrote.

This is the way the course is described in Appendix A:

“The course aims to expose students to different facets of Philippine history through the lens of eyewitnesses. Rather than rely on secondary material such as textbooks, which is the usual approach in teaching Philippine history, different types of primary sources will be used – written (qualitative and quantitative), oral, visual, audio-visual, digital – covering various aspects of Philippine life (political, economic, social, cultural). Students are expected to analyze the selected readings contextually and in terms of content (stated and implied). The end goal is to enable students to understand and appreciate our rich past by deriving insights from those who were actually present at the time of the event.

“Contextual analysis considers the following: (i) the historical context of the source (time and place it was written and the situation at the time), (ii) the author’s background, intent (to the extent discernible), and authority on the subject; and (iii) the source’s relevance and meaning today.

“Content analysis, on the other hand, applies appropriate techniques depending on the type of source (written, oral, visual). In the process students will be asked, for example, to identify the author’s main argument or thesis, compare points of view, identify bias, and evaluate the author’s claims based on the evidence presented or other available evidence at the time. The course will guide students through their reading and analysis of the texts and require them to write reaction essays of varied length and present their ideas in other ways (debate format, PowerPoint presentation, letter to the author of the source, etc.).

“The instructor may arrange the readings chronologically or thematically, and start with the present (more familiar) and go back to the earlier periods or vice-versa.”

In the case of Rizal’s so-called retraction, we have at least one relevant document, a notarized declaration by the head of the Spanish Supreme Court during Rizal’s time. There were also the seven newspapers that carried the story at that time. College students will now be asked to read these documents and to decide for themselves whether these are credible or not, based on how they view justices and newspapers.

We can imagine lively classes where college students are presenting their own views about historical documents and not depending on what scholars have written about those. The idea, as we know from the general objectives of the new GEC, is to have students think for themselves, to give them the kind of critical minds that the country and the world need, to teach them how to think and not what to think. At the same time, because they will be steeped in historical texts, they will understand and appreciate what it means to be Filipino. (To be continued)

Sam Miguel
08-15-2013, 09:50 AM
The contemporary world


By Isagani Cruz

(The Philippine Star) | Updated August 15, 2013 - 12:00am

The third of eight required core courses in the new General Education Curriculum (GEC) for all Philippine colleges and universities is “The Contemporary World / Ang Kasalukuyang Daigdig.”

This particular course best exemplifies the interdisciplinary character of the new GEC. No one particular discipline or specialization can claim to be the most appropriate for the course. Look at the course description: “Globalization and its impact on individuals, communities and nations, challenges and responses. / Globalisasyon at ang epekto nito sa mga indibiduwal, mga komunidad, at mga nasyon; mga hamon at mga tugon.”

We cannot say that social scientists can teach this course best, because it is not only society that has been globalized, but everything else (such as literature, art, culture, technology, business, politics, food, and education). By the same token, what can an internationally-published poet teach students about the globalized stock market (which one cannot play without knowing what the markets in other countries are doing)? Neither can business teachers teach students about stem cell treatment, which a number of wealthy Filipinos are going to Germany for. We cannot even imagine having a computer teacher helping students understand what Wikileaks has to do with our current word war with China or with the latest prizewinning creative nonfiction text.

In other words, the teacher who teaches this course has to be a generalist, not a specialist. The teacher has to have insatiable curiosity. Moreover, because the present cannot be understood without a solid knowledge of the past, the teacher must have the history of civilization at his or her fingertips.

Fortunately, in today’s classroom, the teacher is no longer expected to be a fount of information and wisdom. Instead, the teacher is expected to be an excellent facilitator, able to bring out of students what Plato once theorized to be already in each and every human being at birth.

Now, the question obviously is this: who will teach this course?

Each Higher Education Institution (HEI) has one or two teachers who have a broad grasp of several fields of knowledge. (Sadly, such teachers are looked down upon by most administrators because they appear to be jacks of all disciplines and masters of none.)

Of course, there are HEIs where there are no such teachers. What shall we do with these HEIs? Fortunately, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) is now working on a program to train GEC teachers. All that HEIs have to do is to identify the teachers of this particular course and then send them to the training seminars that will be held sometime next year.

Most HEIs, I predict, will recommend teachers in the social sciences. This is probably the easiest, though not the ideal way to solve the staffing problem, if we take into account the detailed description of the course. Appendix A to CMO 20, series of 2013, says:

“The course aims to introduce students to the state of the world today and the new global order. What does globalization mean both theoretically and from the perspectives of individuals and societies affected by global firms, processes, and movements? The phenomenon of globalization is thus examined from a variety of perspectives as well as its effects on traditional cultures and communities, nations and political institutions, and local, national and regional economies.

“Students will be asked to identify the challenges posed by globalization and consider responses to these challenges as demonstrated by experiences on the ground. For this purpose, students will produce case studies of communities (in the Philippines and other countries) experiencing the impact of globalization and their respective responses to issues that arise. There are global civil societies engaged in advocacies relating to climate and environmental protection, for example, human trafficking across borders, the application of advances in science and technology to serve some of the world’s poorest communities, and so on. There are, too, communities that have managed, with varying degrees of success, to deal with the effects, good and bad, of globalization.

“The course will focus on contemporary global conditions from a Filipino perspective primarily and also as a member of the global community. Through a combination of readings, class discussions, writing, and group presentations, the students are expected to formulate an understanding of globalization that is theoretically informed and rooted in the experiences of communities and nations.”

From the general pedagogical principle that you cannot teach what you do not know, it is clear that the teacher of this course must be familiar with the major issues confronting environmental protection, human trafficking, technological solutions to poverty, the diaspora, the Philippine economy, and so on. Even if the teacher need not be a walking encyclopedia or fast Googler, s/he still needs to know what the students are talking about.

The new GEC has raised the bar on college teaching.

Sam Miguel
08-27-2013, 10:25 AM
Mareng Winnie on subsidizing UP millionaires: Are you crazy?

by Voltaire Tupaz

Posted on 07/13/2013 4:10 PM | Updated 07/13/2013 10:28 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Prof Winnie Monsod, popularly known as "Mareng Winnie" on television, came to a forum on the controversial socialized tuition and financial assistance program (STFAP) of the University of the Philippines (UP), unaware that it was a debate. But among the speakers who argued for and against the controversial STFAP, she was the one in fighting form.

Monsod began by sharing the historical context of the STFAP: A product of almost a decade of discussions, it was introduced in the university recognizing the very highly unequal access to education in the country.

But since its implementation in 1989, STFAP has constantly been scrutinized by the university community due to various complaints. This year, UP is set to revise the STFAP.

On Friday, July 12, UP professors and students debated whether it should be scrapped or reformed in a forum dubbed, "Surveying the Financial Affair Policy of UP." Attended by more than 500 students, the forum was held at the School of Economics in Diliman campus as part of #Kapekonomiya, a series of semestral talks on issues organized by the UP Economics Towards Consciousness (UP-ETC) and the School of Economics Student Council (SESC).

'UP education is a privilege'

Although she admitted that its implementation has been flawed, Monsod, a UPSE professor emeritus, called STFAP an "excellent concept," arguing that it should be continued as it redistributes wealth.

Monsod said, "It's helping the poorest of the poor, and making sure that the rich don't get a free ride. They should not."

The current STFAP follows an alphabetic bracketing scheme that includes the millionaires' bracket A for those who can pay the full cost of education in UP and brackets E1 and E2 that offer free tuition and other benefits. Students assigned to other brackets (B,C, and D) enjoy a range of discounts.

"I have absolutely no sympathy for A, B and C. They should pay using their own money," Monsod emphatically said.

"Are these the people you want to subsidize? Are you crazy?" Monsod added.

Monsod proposed a tuition hike for those under bracket A because they can afford the cost of UP education which is about P100,000 annually per student or about P3,000 per unit. At present, the maximum tuition is P1,500 per unit, which means at least 50% of the tuition of all UP students is subsidized.

"Education is a right, but education in UP is a privilege," Monsod stressed.

Public good or commodity?

But any talk on increasing tuition does not sit well with students, particularly the militant ones. Unintimidated by the authoritative economics professor, Sarah Torres, chair of the student political party STAND-UP, insisted that even rich students in UP should be covered by STFAP.

"Kahit milyonaryo ka o mahirap, pantay-pantay dapat ang tuition. (Tuition should be the same for both millionaire or poor students). It's the character of a public university," Torres argued. Her main points included:

That higher education itself is a good which should be provided to the people as an inherent right and not as a commodity for sale.

That higher education fulfills functions such as research, teaching, extension services and social criticism which do not further private gain but social welfare.

Torres reminded the audience that STFAP was first promoted as a program that would democratize access to UP education. But according to her, it reduced UP education into a commodity "to be bought at full cost by those who can afford it."

"STFAP is nothing but a cover-up, a smokescreen for tuition increase which, in turn, allows government to justify reducing its funding for state universities like UP," Torres said.

Propaganda or solution?

But another student panelist, Juan Carlo Tejano of the Bukluran ng mga Progresibong Iskolar
, dismissed Torres' arguments as propaganda.

"Scrap STFAP now, and then what? Do not merely oppose, propose. Calling for its scrapping is mere propaganda. Calling for reform is an advocacy," Tejano said in mixed English and Filipino.

Tejano enumerated a list of proposals that included institutional annual reviews of existing tuition policies and programs.

Meanwhile, Monsod suggested that the STFAP should be reviewed after every 3 years, noting that for 16 years — from 1989 to 2005 — the brackets were neither monitored nor modified even if prices had already increased thrice within the period.

But there's another way to fix the problem — full state subsidy of UP education, according to Bea Achacoso, chairperson of the student government of National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG).

The student leader pushed for the lobbying of a legislation called "Six Will Fix Bill" or the incremental increase of the education budget until it reaches 6% of the gross domestic product (GDP), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO) target for the education sector.

Public expenditure on education in the country is way below the international standard - merely 2.45% of the GDP.

But Monsod only had this to say about attempts to demand 100% state subsidy: "In your dreams."

Sam Miguel
09-04-2013, 09:37 AM
Aquino signs law against compulsory licensure exam reviews

By Kristine Angeli Sabillo


11:20 am | Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

MANILA, Philippine—Schools can no longer force students to enroll in review centers before taking professional licensure examinations, according to a bill signed into law by President Benigno Aquino III.

The government must protect students against abuses of higher educational institutions over their right to choose review centers, Aquino said in a statement released on Tuesday.

Under Republic Act no. 10609, or the “Protection of Students’ Right to Enroll in Review Centers Act,” public and private colleges and universities can no longer compel students about to take professional licensure tests to enroll in a prescribed review center.

In the past years, there have been reports of schools requiring students to enroll with their partner review centers. The students were compelled to pay not only fees for the review but also packages for transportation, board and lodging.

The new law prohibits higher educational institutions from making review classes a prerequisite for graduation or completion of the course and withholding the transcript of scholastic records, diploma, certification or any essential document of the student.

Those violating the law will be suspended from office and their professional license revoked.

Liable school officials or employees such as deans, advisers or professors found guilty of violating any of the law’s provisions shall be imprisoned from six months and one day to six years and will be fined of P750,000.

The Commission on Higher Education may also impose disciplinary sanctions against involved individuals.

Sam Miguel
09-04-2013, 09:53 AM

By Michael L. Tan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

8:37 pm | Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

Reading about Ateneo de Manila’s 40th anniversary of being coeducational reminded me of how old I am. On a play of the phrase “east is east and west is west,” at the time my sister and I were in the schools on Katipunan, it was “Ateneo is for boys and Maryknoll is for girls, and never shall the twain meet” (at least not openly).

Forty years after Ateneo opened its university to women, their high school and grade school still remain exclusively male. Maryknoll, now Miriam, also opened its college to men although I understand the women still greatly outnumber the men. But Miriam is going to outdo Ateneo soon with a new campus in Nuvali (Canlubang, Laguna) with coed campuses for grade and high school, not too far from another Jesuit school, Xavier, which is also coed or rather co-divisional (more on this later) for its grade school. (Xavier San Juan remains for boys only.)

The debates over coeducation have revolved around different issues from moral ones (a fear of combustible raging hormones) to learning styles and academic achievement.

Gender divide

The gender divide in learning goes way back in time. In pre-industrial societies, learning tends to be sex-segregated, following the gender division of labor. You still see that in our rural agrarian areas—where the boys go off with older boys and men to the fields, while very young girls learn to care for their siblings and help with household chores.

That gender divide is still found in our urban areas, and is reflected in school curricula, especially if the schools are exclusively male or female. Boys’ schools for example rarely offer opportunities to learn a musical instrument, while girls’ schools might have limited sports. Even in coed systems, such as in our public schools, there will be some segregation for subjects following the “boy-girl” stereotypes.

The gender divide is coming down slowly, mainly in terms of allowing girls to “intrude” into male domains like playing football. I see less progress moving in the other direction, sometimes with more complicated gender configurations. For example, boys (and their parents) stay away from volleyball, which they see as a sport only for girls—and male gays.

I looked at education journals and found that in developed countries, the debates have centered on academic achievement, with the assumption that girls are at a disadvantage in mixed-sex schools because boys are more aggressive or assertive in class, and because teachers themselves tend to favor the males. The result is that males tend to do better in various subjects, particularly Math and Science.

Because of those findings, there have been many experiments in these coed schools where certain classes, especially for Math, would be segregated by sexes. The terms used for this system include “SSI” (single sex instruction) and co-divisional. These experiments have been monitored and analyzed carefully and generally, the results do show that girls do better in Math with SSI or co-divisional systems.

But these findings have only led to more debates on whether the extra effort is worth it because the improvements are not usually that significant, and yet require added expenses because of the need for added classrooms and teachers.

It has also been pointed out that if boys do better than girls in Math, it is not because of a biological difference but because of differences in the school and teaching culture.

That point about school culture could not be better proven than in the Philippines, where in our public schools, all of which are coed, girls outperform the boys in all subjects: Reading, Math, Science. That does not mean Filipino boys have inferior intelligence “genes”; the problem again is with the teaching culture. Unlike western schools, our schools favor girls for many reasons: Most teachers are female, subjects have very little content that appeals to boys, and our broader culture undervalues academic achievement as “unmanly.” It’s not surprising that drop-out rates are higher for boys than for girls, and we now face a serious crisis where nationwide, males have lower educational attainment than females. (There is, incidentally, a similar trend in the United States, especially in low-income communities.)

Coed or not, the education of boys needs to be improved by tackling culture itself, in terms of the way we raise our sons to appreciate reading and academic life. That means revisiting many of our textbooks and curricula. I was close to despair seeing my son’s social studies book with several pages devoted to Manny Pacquiao as a great Filipino.


What about sex and the sexes? Opponents of coeducation paint dire pictures of boys pawing the girls. Opponents of same-sex schools on the other hand claim the boys end up pawing the boys, and girls, girls.

Let’s learn from Plato, who centuries ago advocated coeducational systems, saying this was the best environment for boys and girls to end up as “comrades.” I couldn’t agree more. Generally, in coeducational systems the classmates often end up more like brothers and sisters, developing a kind of “incest taboo” and not courting each other. The “other sex” is demystified, and relationships are more respectful.

Coed schools do not operate on the assumption that boys and girls are exactly the same. There are real differences that have to be taken into account, some of which sometimes translate into parental fears. For example, won’t boys be too rough and bully the girls? I doubt it; in fact, in public schools I sometimes see girls ganging up to bully the boys they find rather dumb.

Seriously, there’s something about coeducational systems where both sexes do challenge each other to do better. That can mean boys reining themselves in, sometimes because they do want to impress the girls (or a girl). And for all the talk about boys being rowdy, they do have a more philosophical and relaxed attitude to life, which can be good for their female classmates.

The tide is changing and exclusively boys or exclusively girls schools will dwindle and as that happens, it is important to document the experiences of the different types of schools, and to pick up the strong points.

09-10-2013, 09:35 AM
Top PH universities slip in world rankings

By Dona Z. Pazzibugan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

4:31 am | Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—The country’s leading universities remain highly regarded in international academic circles, but most of them slipped in the latest ranking of the world’s top 800 universities by the ratings firm Quacquarelli Symonds (QS).

The University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University and the University of Santo Tomas dropped in the 2013 QS World University Rankings, while De La Salle University maintained its place from last year.

UP still led Philippine universities on the list, but the premier state university was down to 380th this year from 348th last year.

Ateneo was also down to ranks 501-550 from 451-500 last year, while UST was down to rank 701+ from 601+ last year.

DLSU ranked at 601-650, basically the same as its 601+ rank last year.

QS, a major firm engaged in ranking universities worldwide, attributed the drop in the rankings of Philippine universities to their not having enough research citations and international faculty, two of the indicators QS uses in coming out with its annual list of top universities.

The indicators are academic reputation, employer reputation, faculty/student ratio, citations per faculty, international faculty and international students.

“The reputation of the leading universities in the Philippines remains highly regarded among international academics and it has actually grown compared to last year,” QS head of research Ben Sowter said in a statement Monday after QS released its 10th edition of the World University Rankings.

“But in the rest of the indicators, they have dropped considerably. To improve their competitiveness in the global scene, Filipino institutions have to increase their influence in research and in their ability to attract international faculty,” he said.

“As one of the emerging Asian Tigers, the Philippines should invest in knowledge creation to fuel and sustain its rapid growth,” he added.

The QS World University Rankings differs from its ranking of the top 300 Asian universities.

Its 2013 list of top Asian universities released in June only had on it five of the country’s universities led by UP, the smallest number of Philippine universities to make the cut since QS began ranking universities in Asia in 2009.

UP’s ranking went up a notch to 67th in the 2013 QS University Rankings for Asia, from 68th last year, 62nd in 2011, 78th in 2010 and 63rd in 2009.

Ateneo ranked 109th, down from 86th last year; UST ranked 150th, from 148th last year; while La Salle ranked in the 151-160th range, down from 142 last year.

The University of Southeastern Philippines remained in the same 251-300 range as last year.

QS ranks Asian universities on the following indicators: academic reputation; employer reputation; faculty/student ratio; papers per faculty; citations per paper; international faculty review; international student review; and student exchange inbound and outbound.

In the 2013 QS World University Rankings, the National University of Singapore was highest among Asian universities at 24th, ahead of the University of Hong Kong, which was ranked 26th.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) took the top spot in this year’s top universities worldwide, edging out Harvard University and the University of Cambridge.

QS said that while US universities continued to dominate the top 20, they had lost ground due to the financial crisis.

Of the 83 US universities in the top 400, 64 of them ranked lower than they did in the 2007 list.

Meanwhile, the 43 US public universities in the top 400 have lost an average of 20 places since 2007 due to successive government funding cuts.

Austerity measures in the wake of the recession have placed higher education institutions in the United States beyond the reach of students, QS said.

09-14-2013, 10:20 AM
‘Castrated’ MTB-MLE

By Ricardo Ma. Duran Nolasco

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:22 pm | Friday, September 13th, 2013

The term “castration” refers to the removal, by surgical or other means, of the reproductive organ of an animal. The intention is to prevent the animal from spreading an “undesired” genetic trait in succeeding populations.

This is precisely what the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act No. 10533 (otherwise known as the K-to-12 Law) appear to be doing to the Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE) provisions of the original law.

The IRR provide, albeit illegally, foreign and local lobbyists of the discredited bilingual-education policy with enough escape clauses for them to continue defying the law.

This introductory clause in Rule II, 10.4 circumscribes all the other language provisions: “The curriculum shall develop proficiency in Filipino and English, provided that the learners’ first and dominant language shall serve as the fundamental language of education.”

This provision, absent in the original law, confirms suspicions that the government’s language-in-education policy is MTB-MLE in name but L2 bilingual education in practice.

A genuine MTB-MLE policy, applied to Philippine conditions, develops L1 proficiency among learners, bridges to the two L2s (Filipino and English), and promotes the L1 and L2s throughout basic and higher education. The formulation in the IRR views the L1 merely as a bridge toward learning the two L2s, with L2 learning as the ultimate goal.

The next sentence in Rule II, 104 states: “For Kindergarten and the first three years of elementary education, instruction, teaching materials, and assessment shall be in the regional or native language of the learners.”

This rule repeats an actual provision in RA 10533. Taken out of context, this rule may be twisted to mean that only a few regional languages will be used as LOI (language of instruction) to the exclusion of other Philippine languages. Moreover, these favored regional languages can be used up to Grade 3 only.

Fortunately, our MTB-MLE friends in Congress—mindful of the sinister motivation that some interest groups may have had—successfully included the following provision into the original law:

“The DepEd shall formulate a mother language transition program from Grade 4 to Grade 6 so that Filipino and English shall be gradually introduced as languages of instruction until such time when these two (2) languages can become the primary languages of instruction at the secondary level.”

The added stipulation clarifies many ambiguities in the language provisions under RA 10533. First, that the L1 is the “regional or native language of the learners” can be surmised from the phrase “a mother language transition program.” Second, L2 transition begins only in Grade 4. And third, L2 transition shall be gradual and not abrupt, which means that the L1 continues to be the LOI beyond Grade 3, up to Grade 6 and possibly even at the secondary level.

In the IRR, this L1 transition provision was watered down to: “The DepEd shall formulate a mother language transition program from the mother/first language to the subsequent languages of the curriculum that is appropriate to the language capacity and needs of learners from Grade 4 to Grade 6. Filipino and English shall be gradually introduced as languages of instruction until such time when these two (2) languages can become the primary languages of instruction at the secondary level.”

Under RA 10533, the gradual shift to the L2s as LOI and the proviso on the L2s becoming the primary LOI at the secondary level were clearly connected to, and conditioned on, each other. But because these two ideas were divided into separate clauses in the IRR, the original semantics appears to have changed radically. A school can now introduce an L2 as LOI even before Grade 4, provided the same is “appropriate to the language and needs of the learners.”

The castration procedure on MTB-MLE was completed by tampering with other sections of the original law pertaining to the bottom-up approach in the design of the basic education curriculum and materials production.

Section 5 of RA 10533 provides that the Department of Education curriculum shall adhere “to the principles and framework of MTB-MLE,” that schools can localize, indigenize, and enhance the curriculum “based on their respective educational and social contexts,” and that the development and approval of locally produced teaching materials shall “devolve to the regional and division education units.”

In the IRR, escape clauses like “when appropriate” and “in accordance with national policies and standards” were inserted to remove the obligatory nature of these MTB-MLE provisions and further mangle them.

Other questions on the language provisions left unanswered by the IRR include: (1) What are the requisites before the L2s can become the primary LOI in high school? (2) What does “primary LOI” mean? (3) Does “primary LOI” imply that there is an auxiliary LOI? (4) Is the L1 the auxiliary LOI? (5) Will a 60-40 instructional time for English and an L1 (like Ilocano) in high school be substantial compliance with the “primary LOI” provision of the law?

The MTB-MLE provisions in RA 10533 were intended by our legislators to reform basic education in this country. But if these provisions continue to be opposed, distorted and diluted by the very authorities tasked to implement them, then a change in leadership may be in order.

Sam Miguel
09-20-2013, 02:54 PM
Coming soon: High schools for athletes?

by Jee Y. Geronimo

Posted on 09/19/2013 8:03 PM | Updated 09/19/2013 11:55 PM

Sen Pia Cayetano and Sen Sonny Angara asks whether a sports academy system will be better than the proposed Philippine High School for Sports

MANILA, Philippines – “We should stop producing athletes who are not educated.”

For Department of Education (DepEd) consultant Fr Carmelo Caluag, it's time to stop stereotyping athletes as jocks.

The solution? A national high school system dedicated to sports-inclined students.

During a Senate hearing on Thursday, September 19, Caluag and fellow consultant Sebastian Ripoll said a sports academy system will be more effective than a Philippine High School for Sports (PHSS) that lawmakers are proposing.

The measure to establish a PHSS was proposed in the previous Congress and refiled this time by 3 senators: Sen Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara, Sen Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada, and Sen Pia Cayetano.

“If we are to put up an effective sports academy, it has to be a system because one thing with sports is that you have to start as soon as possible. eyeing talents, DepEd is the main structure for that,” Calauag said.

Three high schools have been identified as pilot regional campuses should a Philippine Academy for Sports System be established:

Rizal High School in Pasig, Metro Manila
Abellana National High School in Cebu
General Santos City High School in South Cotabato

The proposal comes amid DepEd's preparations the additional senior high school level, where students may choose Sports and Arts as a track of specialization.

Currently, DepEd has a special sports program in every region which Caluag said may be the foundation of the proposed system.

"You need to take young people with what their passion is, and with that passion, lead them in academics," he said.

Provide support system

Philippine Sports Commission chairman Ricardo Garcia said many talents are spotted in high school, but a lack of specialized support system keeps them from pursuing their sport.

“Even if you find sponsors for all these kids, you really need a holistic system to support them,” Cayetano added.

When Angara asked Garcia about the situation of high school athletes in the country, the PSC chairman said it is getting worse.

“Before, we had a lot of college students in sports, but because of economics or some [personal] problems, we have more and more athletes who are not even high school graduates.”

Palarong Pambansa deputy secretary general Cesar Abalon noted that private school athletes “have more edge” than those from public schools in the Palaro.

“The more we need a Philippine High School for Sports: to produce athletes who will be the pride of the public school system,” Angara said.

The proposed system hopes to produce not only athletes but also sports practitioners after the curriculum, faculty development, and standards have been agreed upon.

Cayetano asked DepEd to give their official stand on the proposal next hearing in October. – [I]Rappler.com

Sam Miguel
09-25-2013, 09:32 AM
‘K to 12’ lessons from Australia

By Rina Jimenez-David

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:39 pm | Monday, September 23rd, 2013

“International” is appended to many educational institutions here these days, although it isn’t immediately clear how a school or college got to carry that appellation. Is it because the student body is a mix of Filipino and foreign nationalities? Is it because some teachers or administrators are foreigners? Or is the term a mere marketing ploy, to justify exorbitant tuition and other fees?

The Australian International School (AIS) acquired its name by way of accreditation with both the Philippine and Australian governments, and offering an Australian high school diploma based on an Australian curriculum while following the basic requirements of the Philippines’ Department of Education. It also caters to both Filipino and expatriate students.

Making it truly “international” is the fact that AIS offers an international curriculum “based on the inquiry method, particularly in the primary and middle school years.” At the senior secondary level, Grades 11-12, students strive to earn the Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE), and take the Australian National Exam before graduation. Thus, graduates earn an internationally recognized diploma and are “equipped to enter any school system in the world.”

Throughout the school year, Australian educational authorities check with not just the school administrators but also with individual teachers to monitor their performance and standards.

Remarkable, then, is the fact that AIS began life as a preschool, opening in 1964 as the Eleanor Esteban Learning Center. Esteban had been a teacher at the International School but decided to open her own school that would be “nontraditional, more analytical” in its approach.

“It grew one year at a time,” recalls David, Esteban’s youngest child who, like his siblings, was educated in his mother’s school and is now AIS director for marketing and projects. After opening its elementary department in the 1990s, the school, which became AIS three years ago, produced its first Grade 12 graduates last year. Another Esteban child, Christine Esteban Norton, now serves as administrative director.

* * *

The transformation of the “Esteban School” into AIS came around the same time that Philippine educational authorities began considering the adoption of the “K to 12” system, which is in place in most countries worldwide.

Since Australia is getting global recognition as having one of the best educational systems in the world (“education is one of the top three exports,” remarks David), Philippine educational authorities, with support from AusAid, began consulting with Australian experts on the transformation of the old curriculum into K to 12. “We have worked closely with the DepEd,” remarks Christine, who believes their experience can prove valuable particularly for private schools left groping for ways to adjust their practices and restructure their curricula to conform with the K to 12 paradigm.

At AIS, students in Grades 11-12, known as “university prep levels,” get what Christine calls “some breathing room” as they transition to college. As in college, students are free to choose their subjects, subject to WACE guidelines, and can engage in subjects like applied information technology, accounting, integrated science and economics.

But Christine emphasizes that the AIS curriculum is geared toward college preparation, whereas under the DepEd’s K to 12 system, more emphasis is given toward equipping students with technical and vocational training to enable them to find jobs or engage in business even without a college degree.

* * *

With students from six continents and of 18 nationalities, AIS is still keenly aware of its roots in the Philippines.

Over lunch, Christine seems immensely excited about the sports festival the school is holding the next day, featuring “Pinoy” games, like tumbang preso and piko. And in accordance with DepEd requirements, Filipino classes are also held, with the “Noli” and “Fili” studied in high school.

More than fulfilling the curricular requirements of the Philippine and Australian governments, says Christine, what AIS ultimately wishes to convey to its students is “learning how to learn,” to be self-motivated, and to manage their time well—traits necessary for success in college.

Starting in the seventh grade, adds Christine, each student is expected to work on a “thesis,” an independent project undertaken from July to February, in which the student chooses his/her area of research, posits a central theory, conducts the needed research, and then defends the paper before a panel. The experience not only provides basic preparation for college but also develops in the student a spirit of independence and discipline, says Christine.

* * *

Even as it provides basic education from preschool, high school to precollege, AIS also offers a three-year Bachelor of Commerce (accounting) degree accredited with the Australian Catholic University, in the Philippines.

The school also has links with the University of Bradford, offering its MBA program which the Financial Times counts among the Top 10 MBAs in the United Kingdom and Top 100 in the world. Bradford faculty fly to Manila to personally conduct classes, with local “tutors” helping to bring “local relevance and application.”

Indeed, with the world shrinking due to communications technology and the globalization of trade, business, media and even popular culture, borders need not stand as barriers to a truly international education.

“World-class” is yet another appellation used much too indiscriminately. But with thoughtful preparation and application, the term can very well apply to graduates of schools like AIS.

Sam Miguel
09-25-2013, 09:35 AM
Education for entrepreneurship

By Cielito F. Habito

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:38 pm | Monday, September 23rd, 2013

We constantly lament how millions of our compatriots have had to go abroad to seek gainful employment, lacking opportunities for decent work here at home. While overseas employment has brought billions of dollars into the country (now amounting to about $28 billion a year), this has come at great cost borne by millions of Filipinos suffering the ill effects of fragmented if not altogether broken families. This is not to mention the physical and emotional hardship, and occasional abuse, that overseas Filipino workers must put up with where they work.

A foreign writer once described us as “one nation, overseas”—noting our seemingly peculiar situation of having a much more substantial portion of our population than usual working in foreign lands. One finds many explanations for this phenomenon, including our traditionally poor economic performance with the consequent lack of employment opportunities here at home, and a natural wanderlust among our people that has led Filipinos to establish a presence in virtually every corner of the globe. There is also our proficiency in the English language, coupled with our cultural adaptability owing to our colonial history, which makes it so easy for Filipinos to fit in anywhere in the world—more, it would seem, than most other Asians do. And so on.

My own favorite theory is that our educational system has traditionally failed to foster enough entrepreneurship among our citizens. That is, our schools have been training our people too much to become employees, rather than employers. Surveys have shown that most of our young people aspire, once they finish schooling, to work for others rather than work for themselves and create work for others. I have always argued that if only more Filipinos were of the latter kind, then jobs wouldn’t be as scarce as they have been in our country over the years.

What is entrepreneurship-oriented education like?

First, it drives students to be creators, not mere replicators. One gets the sense that too many of our teachers think of education simply as a process of transferring information, which is good for turning out trivia quiz contest champions, but will not produce problem-solvers. Others see it a level higher—i.e., as imparting knowledge, which is of a higher order than information. Information pertains to facts, while knowledge pertains to concepts. But this is not enough. True education imparts not merely knowledge but wisdom, or the ability to organize and make good use of knowledge toward improving people’s lives.

I believe that the emphasis on teaching science and mathematics in our schools can be carried too far, particularly if it’s at the expense of teaching the liberal arts, humanities and social studies including history. It is these latter disciplines that impart deeper wisdom to students, and must not be neglected in the pursuit of competitiveness in science and mathematics. As we pursue the K to 12 curriculum, our education planners would do well to keep this in mind.

One may even argue that in this age of information and communication technology, teachers should be less concerned about providing information, which students can readily access by themselves from books and electronic media including the Internet. But effective education stimulates in students the hunger for information and knowledge, and provokes them to seek these on their own. More importantly, it trains them to make good use of information and knowledge toward solving everyday problems and meeting society’s challenges.

Second, entrepreneurship-oriented education trains students for effective social interaction, which is key to successful entrepreneurship. This will not be achieved in a teacher-centered classroom where communication proceeds largely one-way from the teacher to some 40-60 students preoccupied with taking notes. More advanced educational systems promote student-centered classrooms where they are encouraged to interact and work as teams. The effectiveness of the educational system hinges not only on the content but, equally important, on the manner and process by which education takes place, whether in or out of the classroom.

Teacher training, then, involves far more than equipping them with technical competence (i.e., more information and knowledge). More importantly, it should also train them to be effective facilitators of gaining wisdom.

Third, entrepreneurship-oriented education encourages students to discover, experiment and take risks. Risk-taking is second nature to good entrepreneurs. A nation of seguristas cannot be a progressive nation. Many of us like to lament how too many Filipino businessmen seem content with imitating and copying others’ successful businesses, rather than creating and pursuing new business ideas. Our history of an import-substituting industrial policy derives from this attitude, and has led us to a tradition of protectionism whose continuing vestiges still slow us down today in the face of the impending Asean Economic Community. Risk-taking and innovation are not something one learns from books, but are fostered through the approach and manner by which education is delivered by our schools and teachers.

Most of us now recognize that our educational system is the first place we should look in seeking the key to inclusive economic development. As we constantly strive to improve the way we educate our children, it is well worth remembering that our objective is to create a new generation of Filipinos who will not merely be earners of incomes, but creators of wealth.

* * *

09-27-2013, 01:20 PM
Science’s Humanities Gap


In his recent sermon to humanists, “Science Is Not Your Enemy,” the psychologist Steven Pinker makes an impressive plea for humanists to pay more attention to science and urges them to an interdisciplinary approach that he thinks has been sadly lacking. His general point is surely right: specialists in any area are likely to benefit from acquaintance with relevant work beyond their disciplinary boundaries. But it seems to me that Pinker mistakes his audience. On this issue, it’s humanists who are the choir and scientists who need a call to grace.

Consider my home discipline of philosophy. Pinker himself mentions the strong recent connections of philosophy of mind to cognitive science and neuroscience. What he doesn’t note is that philosophers of mind — David Chalmers is a striking example — who work in cognitive science are typically highly trained in that discipline. Few cognitive scientists and neuroscientists have comparably strong backgrounds in philosophy of mind. As I’ve argued in previous Stone columns, this is a major disadvantage when scientists try, as they often do, to interpret the bearing of their results on philosophical issues such as free will and happiness.

Similarly, epistemologists like Stephen Stich, Philip Kitcher and Hilary Kornblith have integrated empirical psychological studies of cognition and error into their work on “naturalized epistemology.” Likewise, experimental philosophers interested in areas like epistemology, philosophy of mind and ethics have employed the survey methods of the social sciences to enrich their philosophical reflections.

The disparity between philosophers’ knowledge of science and scientists’ knowledge of philosophy is even greater in the areas of philosophy of physics and philosophy of biology. In the early 20th century, most of the major philosophers of science (Morris Schlick, Hans Reichenbach and Rudolf Carnap, for example) had done advanced work in physics. Current philosophers of physics continue to have a high professional level of training in physics, with many even publishing in physics journals. Philosophers of biology like David Hull have been similarly well versed in that discipline.

Historians of science are also immersed in the areas of science they study. Graduate programs in the discipline typically expect strong undergraduate majors or even a master’s degree in a particular science, and often require further advanced scientific work. Thomas Kuhn, the most influential historian of science ever, had a doctorate in physics from Harvard. By contrast, few current scientists do serious work in the histories of their discipline.

Social scientists have also been far more open than natural scientists to history and other humanistic disciplines, and there are many examples of fruitful interdisciplinary interactions in the area of social science history. Geography, in particular, has emerged as a thoroughly interdisciplinary study, combining natural science with both social scientific and humanistic studies.

Pinker notes the antiscientific tendencies of what he calls “the disaster of postmodernism, with its defiant obscurantism, dogmatic relativism, and suffocating political correctness.” But literary studies, the bastion of these tendencies, have long been moving in other directions, including a strong trend toward applying scientific ideas and methods. There is, for example, the evolutionary and neurological study of literature and, most recently, the use of computer data-mining.

There is, then good reason to think that the greater problem is scientists’ failure to attend to what’s going on in the humanities. Even Pinker himself, who is obviously well versed in many areas of the humanities, could have profited in this article from a deeper acquaintance with philosophy and its history.

For example, Pinker opens with the claim that “the great thinkers of the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment were scientists,” mentioning, in particular, Descartes, Spinoza, Hobbes, Locke, Hume, Rousseau, Leibniz, Kant and Adam Smith. These thinkers were, of course, all interested in scientific questions, but they all quite correctly viewed themselves as philosophers and readily combined empirical or formal mathematical accounts with philosophical arguments, historical facts, or introspective observations. (Pinker’s claim that they “crafted their ideas in the absence of formal theory and empirical data” ignores Descartes’ and Leibniz’s work in mathematics, Spinoza’s geometric method and Hume’s “History of England.”) They were, in fact, models of the broadly and deeply educated intellectual that today’s typical scientist is not.

The problem of disciplinary narrowness became critical only with the advent of “scientists” — a term invented in the 19th century — whose work became so technical that it was hard to avoid the perils of overspecialization. Pinker’s ideal of interdisciplinary integration was from the beginning a humanistic project — and, as we have seen, was continued into the present by humanists much more than scientists.

Pinker also claims that science has shown that all traditional religious accounts of “the origins of life, humans, and societies — are factually mistaken,” since “we know. . . that humans belong to a single species of African primate that developed agriculture, government, and writing late in its history.” Here Pinker ignores the numerous religious thinkers, from Augustine to John Paul II, who have accepted an evolutionary account of human origins, maintaining that the process itself is the work of a creative God.

Finally, Pinker confidently asserts that, given merely the “unexceptionable convictions” that “all of us value our own welfare and that we are social beings who impinge on each other and can negotiate codes of conduct,” science can lead us to “a defensible morality.” “This morality, he says, derives from the injunction to “maximize the flourishing of humans and other sentient beings.” But this claim runs into trouble if we raise the philosophical questions of what Pinker means by “our welfare” and “the flourishing of humans.” A utilitarian morality will understand these terms in one way, a deontological (for example, Kantian) morality in quite another way, an Aristotelian virtue morality in yet another way. These differences derive from conflicting normative judgments about what ought to be the ethical ideal, something not determinable by scientific observation.

Pinker is looking for a new meaning of scientism. But, despite the best intentions, he winds up something close to the old meaning: a scientific attitude that underrates the achievements of the humanities.


Sam Miguel
09-30-2013, 10:40 AM
Writers, scholars protest DepEd’s downgrading of literature curriculum

By Lito B. Zulueta

Philippine Daily Inquirer

3:38 am | Monday, September 30th, 2013

Writers and literature educators are protesting the decision of Department of Education (DepEd) functionaries to drastically downscale the literature and humanities in the new “K to 12” program, which is supposed to add two years to basic education so as to better prepare Filipinos for higher education.

Specifically they are protesting the decision of the DepEd to downgrade the core literature subjects in basic education.

The decision involves collapsing the two core subjects in Grades 11 and 12—21st-Century Regional Literature and World Literature—and combining them into one.

The two courses had been approved for inclusion in Senior High, under the K+12 renovation program, signed and issued in a circular by Education Secretary Armin Luistro last February.

Tasked to design the curricula was the Commission on Higher Education’s (CHEd) technical panel on literature headed by literature scholar Lulu Torres Reyes of the Ateneo de Manila University.

But a decision to collapse the two subjects into one was unilaterally made by DepEd functionaries apparently during its Senior High School Core Curriculum Finalization Workshop last Sept 23-27 in Tagaytay City.

As a result, the functionaries appear to have overruled Luistro himself.

Pedagogically impossible

The decision was made without consultation with literature and humanities teachers and scholars and educational planners.

“It is ironic that while K+12, as the K to 12 program used to be known, seeks two more years to basic education, literature and the humanities have been subtracted from the new curriculum,” the Philippine PEN writers group said.

PEN said DepEd obviously made the decision “out of ignorance.” It added that DepEd planners showed their ignorance and “contempt of the humanities” since collapsing Regional Literature and World Literature “is pedagogically impossible.”

Regional Literature is a survey of Philippine literature written in the regional languages while World Literature is a survey of the works of Nobel laureates and other representative writers of other nations.

In its 2012 Congress, in fact, the Philippine PEN passed a resolution submitted by novelist Rony V. Diaz expressing alarm at the downgrading of literature and humanities in the proposed K to 12 curriculum.

Meanwhile, the Unyon ng Mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (Umpil) has asked DepEd Undersecretary Dina Ocampo to defer the decision to downgrade literature in the new curriculum.

The request was contained in a letter dated Sept. 27 sent by Mike Coroza, Umpil secretary general, to Ocampo.

Umpil urged DepEd to consult with experts in literature and humanities education.

CHEd panel protest

The Technical Panel for Literature Education of Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) has warned DepEd that reducing literature subjects in basic education would weaken the college readiness of high-school graduates.

In a Sept. 24 letter to Ocampo, the CHEd literature panel said it was protesting the decision of the DepEd for the following reasons:

1. There was no consultation done with the Technical Committee for Literature on the reduction and “integration” of the two subjects;

2. The reduction will weaken the college readiness standards of graduates;

3. The reduction will undermine the core values of critical citizenship and creative imagination that Literature fosters;

4. The reduction is a midnight decision.

“We demand the restoration of the original number of hours from 80 hours to 160 hours,” the CHEd panel wrote. “We request for a meeting with you and Bro. Armin Luistro to find ways to resolve this issue immediately.”

Aside from Reyes, the letter was signed by all members of the CHEd panel on literature education, all of them leading writers and scholars: Victor Emmanuel Carmelo Nadera Jr. of the University of the Philippines; Joyce Arriola of the University of Santo Tomas; and Charlie Samuya Veric of Ateneo.

Surprising news

Earlier, Ocampo had e-mailed Reyes denying that there was no consultation. She said she had asked Luz Vilchez of Ateneo, head of the CHEd Technical Panel on the Humanities, about the matter, thinking that her panel and that of literature education were one and the same thing.

(But electronic communications by Vilches informing the technical committees, like education under the Humanities panel, never mentioned that DepEd had asked for the collapse of the two subjects.)

Therefore, no consultation with the CHEd panel on literature education and other literature-education planners took place.

The news was surprising especially since Luisto had already approved the curriculum as of February 2013. The approval is contained in Memorandum Circular No. 20s2013.

Moreover, in the countless meetings attended by the literature technical panel and CHEd about the K to 12 curriculum, the reduction and integration of the literature-courses was never presented on the table.

Communications by Vilches showed that she had never discussed it with the panel in any of its meetings, and, in fact, the panel members were all caught by surprise by the news.

After many months of working on the formulation of the literature curriculum for senior high school, the CHEd literature panel said it was “shocked” by the development.

09-30-2013, 01:21 PM
The Glass-Floor Problem


The Great Divide is a series about inequality.

WHEN it comes to the economic malaise facing America, the biggest problem is not the widening gap between rich and poor, but the stagnation of social mobility. When the income gap of one generation becomes an opportunity gap for the next, inequality hardens into social stratification.

Eliminating the income gap is relatively straightforward (if politically fraught): raise taxes and expand government assistance for lower-income workers. Kick-starting social mobility, once it has slowed, is much more difficult.

It is important to be clear what we are talking about. There are two distinct kinds of intergenerational mobility. Absolute mobility is a measure of whether a person is financially better off than his or her parents were at the same age.

Relative mobility, in contrast, is a measure of which rung of the income ladder a person lands on, compared with his or her parents’ position. If everyone made twice what their parents did, everyone is upwardly mobile, in absolute terms — but since their rank position on the income ladder is the same as their parents’, relative mobility would be zero.

We can improve rates of upward absolute mobility by simply expanding the economy. But improving rates of upward relative mobility from the bottom comes with a sting in the tail: it requires more downward mobility from the top.

It is well known that in the United States, income distribution has a “sticky floor.” Two-fifths of children born into the poorest fifth of households remain there as adults.

But it is sticky at the top, too: the same odds apply to those born into the richest fifth.

It is a stubborn mathematical fact that the top fifth of the income distribution can accommodate only 20 percent of the population. If we want more poor kids climbing the ladder of relative mobility, we need more rich kids sliding down the chutes.

Even the most liberal parents are unlikely to be comfortable with the idea that their own children should fall down the scale in the name of making room for a smarter kid from a poorer home. They invest large amounts of economic, social and cultural capital to keep their own children high up the social scale. As they should: there is nothing wrong with parents doing the best by their children.

The problem comes if institutional frameworks in, say, the higher education system or the labor market are distorted in favor of the powerful — a process the sociologist Charles Tilly labeled “opportunity hoarding.” The less talented children of the affluent are able to defy social gravity and remain at the top of the ladder, reducing the number of places open to those from less fortunate backgrounds.

One potential danger zone for opportunity hoarding is access to higher education. College matters a lot for social mobility. For someone from a poor background, getting a four-year degree virtually guarantees upward mobility. Elite colleges act as gateways to the best career paths. Getting more poor kids into colleges, and getting the brightest into the best colleges, ought to be a national mission.

As part of his move to increase the accountability of colleges, President Obama has proposed a financial “bonus” for institutions that graduate more students whose lower income makes them eligible for Pell Grants. And that’s a good start. But colleges themselves need to be much more aggressive.

There are tens of thousands of high-schoolers smart enough to go to selective colleges, who don’t even apply. Those who do, and who get in, graduate at high rates.

Elite colleges should also get rid of one aspect of affirmative action: the bias in favor of applicants who are children of alumni. Harvard accepts 30 percent of these “legacy” applicants, compared to a 6 percent overall rate.

Of course, most graduates of schools like Harvard feed into the affluent strata of society, and are able to immerse their children in extracurricular activities and test prep classes. So their children will be clustered among the top end of the applicant pool.

But the enormous discrepancy between legacy and average acceptance rates indicates that there is something else at work: namely, opportunity hoarding that impedes relative social mobility.

At the very least, schools like Harvard should try much harder to keep their legacy-admission rates in line with their overall admission rates.

Opportunity hoarding can also occur in the allocation of workplace positions. Half of all jobs are found through family or friends, and these informal networks are likely to perpetuate existing inequalities.

It is hard to do much about the paid side of the job market. But we can do something about unpaid internships. These have become more commonplace and, in many cases, an important first step on a lucrative career ladder. As they are unpaid, they automatically favor the affluent. Effectively unregulated, they can also be handed out to the children of clients or friends.

One step would be to expand and more stringently enforce minimum wage laws, so that fewer positions were unpaid and thus off limits to young people who needed to work for a living.

Firms should allocate internships through an open, competitive process, and should pay a levy for every unpaid internship position, with the proceeds going into a national or state pool to provide living expenses to lower-income interns.

These opportunities — an undergraduate degree from Harvard or Yale, an internship at a senator’s office — are valuable precisely because of their scarcity. They are therefore the ones at most risk of being hoarded.

These solutions may sound easy, but they are not. While politicians discuss social mobility as a pain-free goal, the unspoken, uncomfortable truth is that relative mobility is a zero-sum game. Opening more doors to applicants from low-income backgrounds often means closing more doors to affluent applicants.

This is delicate territory. Nobody wants parents to stop trying hard for their children. But nor do we want a society in which the social market is rigged in favor of those born into affluence. If we want a competitive economy and an open society, we need the best and brightest to succeed. This means some of the children of the affluent must fail.


Sam Miguel
10-02-2013, 09:53 AM
The value of technical education

By Mario Guariña III

10:46 pm | Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Probably one of the most intriguing questions in history is why some nations are rich and others poor. There is no single determining factor, but one lesson stands out in our study of the individual histories of nations. This is the rise of technological innovation in human society, a process that saw man emerging from his crudest beginnings to make the tools and machines that brought civilization to the level it is now.

Human development has been very uneven. It is generally recognized that most underdeveloped countries are located in the tropical zone between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn, while the developed nations lie in the area known as the Northern Hemisphere. Until our age, human progress has been largely dictated by the countries of this hemisphere, and as we can see from history, growth in this region was spearheaded by two nations—England and America. Why?

China and India were ancient civilizations, more ancient, in fact, than England or America, but since the Middle Ages, something happened that made England and America and, to a lesser degree, the other countries of Europe, surge forward. One thing is certain. In these two countries, science and technology grew by leaps and bounds, in contrast to the situation in China where centuries-long official repression stopped the spread of Chinese genius.

Human progress has its roots in human knowledge, in particular scientific knowledge. What is striking is that as scientific knowledge spreads, invention and innovation follow. Invention may be the talent of a few, but its rewards benefit all mankind. It is said that the machines and processes that built America may be attributed to only 20 or more scientists and innovators, and this is probably the case also in the other countries.

Innovation, as the product of the minds of a small percentage of the human population, is a psychological fact that involves two very rare mental qualities—inspiration and inventiveness. An Englishman named James Hargreaves in the 18th century invented the spinning jenny which revolutionized textile manufacturing and started England on the road to the Industrial Revolution. And it all happened because one day Hargreaves’ wife Jenny accidentally tipped over her spinning wheel. The wheel continued to revolve, but the spindle was now in a vertical rather than a horizontal position. It occurred to Hargreaves that a large number of spindles put side by side could be turned by the same wheel and spin thread many times more. The spinning jenny he invented served that purpose.

Oliver Evans, a farm boy in Delaware during the US Revolution era, was fascinated by the work in the flour mills where wheat was being turned into flour. The millers would carry the grain on their backs, walk up the stairs to the top floor, and had it fall through devices that regulated its flow to the millstones. Once the meal was ground, it was carried again to the top floor where it was dried and sifted through cloth to make flour. Evans was shocked at the human labor involved and saw in his mind’s eye the need to do away with this wasteful labor. Over the years he invented a machine that utilized conveyors to carry the grain and meal to their destination. Thus was born the conveyor belt which introduced the system of mass production in America.

Yet the great inventions were not born, like Minerva in the head of Zeus, full-grown. They were the result of years of study and meditation by their inventors. Evans used to study late into the night and made his drawings by the light of the hearth. They were inspired by their work, but before they can achieve any progress, they had to endeavor to improve their understanding of the mechanical arts, facing a lot of heartaches and disappointments along the way.

Why only a few are gifted with the ability to invent and innovate is beyond logical explanation. I would say that it is a gift from God, and the few to whom He has given it are scattered among all the races. Genius knows no national boundaries. But the fact that we find most of scientific geniuses in certain countries only tells us one important truth. The possession of an inventive mind—that which gives a man the ability to form new ideas—is only a part of the story. His genius will actually work for him only if he is prepared for it, and preparation comes from a lifetime of study and work. There is no free lunch in nature.

The explanation is, therefore, sociological. It is rooted in the social environment. Europe in the Middle Ages became one of the most inventive societies in history, because it came to develop what one writer calls the cultivation of invention. A spirit of free inquiry generally ruled the land which the Inquisition and other forms of repression could not stop. There were political fragmentation and free enterprise eventually leading to a democracy of ideas. Men began to think, study and innovate, with encouragement from the state, but fundamentally because their genius was no longer interfered with.

Indeed, we cannot create genius, but we can prepare the ground for it to emerge and be nourished. We can provide the environment that will draw out the natural talents of man. If it is true to say that preparation is the key to genius, then what can do the job better than providing a solid scientific and technical education to the general population and encouraging science and technology in the popular mind?

In our day and age, it is the state more than any other social institution that can do what is truly imperative—produce a scientific climate in our society. That is why government must make it a top priority to develop technical education in the country, and any administration that puts this goal on the back burner does not deserve support.

In large measure, the economic progress of a nation and its wealth and welfare will depend on the genius of a people cultivated by a scientific tradition. A respected academician once said: The awakening of permanent interests will always be the great miracle of education.

Mario Guariña III is a former associate justice of the Court of Appeals.

Sam Miguel
10-02-2013, 10:01 AM
The pork barrel: What science says

By Queena N. Lee-Chua

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:09 pm | Monday, September 30th, 2013

To abolish or not to abolish the pork barrel?

In 2006, psychologists Katherine Vohs of the University of Minnesota, Nicole Mead of Florida State University and Miranda Goode of the University of British Columbia asked people to think about having big amounts of money.

Other participants thought about things other than money.

Results were troubling, but not surprising. Participants who thought about big money helped out less in small ways (they picked up spilled pencils less often) and big (they donated less to charity).

They were also less cooperative, sat farther away from others and worked on their own rather than with a team.

“People view money as both the greatest good and evil,” the researchers say in the journal Science. “Money enhanced individualism but diminished communal motivations, an effect that is still apparent in people’s responses to money today.”

The more people fixate on wealth and power, the less they tend to care about others and the world. In 2007, psychologists Tim Kasser and Steve Cohn of Knox College in Illinois, Allan Kanner of Wright Institute in California and Richard Ryan of the University of Rochester in New York studied responses of people from 15 countries about what they valued most.

Money and community seem to be incompatible. Amassing wealth satisfies external needs of praise and power; helping others satisfies internal needs of love and belonging.

Money and community can coexist, but often awkwardly.

“Of course we can care about community and money,” Kasser tells the American Psychological Association. “But as money becomes important … the desire to help other people tends to become less important.”

Valuing money to a huge extent makes people less inclined to “helping the world be a better place; having committed, intimate relationships; feeling worthy and autonomous,” say the researchers in the journal Psychological Inquiry.

Greed, not generosity

In 2012, psychologists Kurt Gray of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and Adrian Ward and Michael Norton of Harvard University tested the concept of paying it forward.

Based on the popular movie, the concept held that if people received kindness, they would be more inclined to be kind to others.

A hundred people played a money game. They were told that an anonymous person had split $6 with them, giving them either the entire $6 (generous split), $3 (half-split) or nothing (greedy split).

Participants checked an envelope with the share they got.

Afterward, they were provided another envelope and an additional $6. They were asked to split this second amount with a future recipient, paying it forward.

Receiving a generous share would prompt people to be more generous, wouldn’t it? Not quite. There was no difference in the actions of those who got a generous or an equal share.

But those who got nothing the first time decided to exact revenge the second time: They paid forward either very little or nothing.

Women responded the same as men.

“We [have] highlighted a more sinister side of paying it forward—and hence human nature—that previous research and media attention … have ignored,” say the researchers in the Journal of Experimental Psychology.

Greed is more powerful than generosity. However heartwarming the movie might have been, “people should focus less on performing random acts of kindness and more on treating others equally,” say the researchers, “while refraining from random acts of cruelty.”

In October 2012 in Psychology Today, US clinical psychologist Leon Seltzer wrote the article “Greed: The Ultimate Addiction.” Although he targeted speculators who triggered the US and European financial crisis, he could just as easily have been talking about Napoles et al.

Tops in audacity

“Of all the things one might be addicted to, nothing tops the greed-laden pursuit of wealth in its audacity, manipulativeness and gross insensitivity to the needs and feelings of others,” says Seltzer. “Not to mention its extreme, shortsighted, irresponsible covetousness.”

Ten billion boggles the mind. How can people steal that much money?

“Their ‘mega-fortune quest’ really has no end point,” says Seltzer. “They won’t be able to name the definitive ‘millionth’ or ‘billionth’ that, finally, will do it for them. They can’t because the means by which they reap their riches has itself become the end.”

What is the use of wealth if no one knows about it? The need to flaunt is irresistible, ergo the online posts of shopping sprees, sprawling mansions, lavish celebrations.

Particularly, psychology says, if deep down, people have a poor image of themselves.

“Material acquisitions can wondrously mask (both from others and from themselves) woeful deficits in their core self-image,” says Seltzer. “Ultimately, their heart’s desire—tragically unknown to them—isn’t for wealth at all, but for love, emotional intimacy, unconditional acceptance [and self-acceptance], and ‘rich,’ satisfying relationships. No matter how obscenely wealthy they may become, these … cannot be purchased with money.”

“The final debacle … isn’t simply that their monetary accomplishments can’t ever bring them the lasting happiness and peace of mind they secretly crave,” says Seltzer. “It’s that their futile quest generally causes all sorts of misfortune to others … and to our nation.”

So science says: Abolish the pork barrel now.

10-08-2013, 10:40 AM
Flowers for the living: five special teachers

By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:55 am | Saturday, October 5th, 2013

What does one remember of one’s teachers? Certainly not the lectures they made for these were not always brilliant or memorable, not the tedious rote drills for these were meaningless and mechanical, but, rather, the sundry incidents, even mere fleeting encounters with them, that showed how valued they made you feel. How they empowered you as a learner, the glimpses of their humanity and frailties they allowed you to discover, the life lessons they did not directly mean to teach but left you richer and wiser, nonetheless.

I am embarrassed that it has taken a National Teacher’s Month declaration again for me to remember all the tireless high school teachers who made a difference in this student’s life. It is never too late, and yet this does come rather late, 50 years after. I have resolved to express this today while these Benedictine mentors are still around to read what I am saying.

It is hard to believe that Sr. Frideswida Ick, OSB, has just celebrated her 80th birthday, considering her youthful countenance and the physical setback she is successfully battling, which has prevented her from returning to Peramiho, Tanzania, where she had been happily doing missionary work after she left Manila. Who remembers anything from her chemistry classes? But I remember the work ethic, her gentleness, and the caring and nurturing ways that I always associated with her—and, these days, her fearless and optimistic attitude toward life, her gratefulness for every day, and her openness to what tomorrow brings.

Sr. Josefina Nepomuceno, OSB, was a young and pretty Sister Lourdes when she was my literature teacher. I do not remember much of what I learned but distinctly remember how she taught the Charles Lamb essay, “A Dissertation Upon Roast Pig,” which details how the delicacy of pig crackling was an accidental discovery. We were not a class to remember as far as she was concerned—I hope that means we were relatively well-behaved—and I am sure she does not know how she impressed the class with an early love for well-written words.

To this day, we tease Sr. Andy Collantes, OSB, our Filipino (Pilipino it was then) teacher, for allowing us to write our compositions partially in English whenever our Filipino vocabulary faltered, which was more often than permissible. We like to tell her that no thanks to her leniency, we never gained fluency in a national language we have rediscovered and been proud of long after school. Over the years, as we achieved peer status as comfortable old friends rather than the distinct hierarchy of teacher-student, she would confess that although she hails from Tanauan, Batangas, she was a novice teacher then, a true neophyte who was herself uncertain of her own Filipino.

Sister Andy would also reveal, before her mind began to play tricks on her, that because of our demanding to spend after-class time with her on the campus grounds, she was always reprimanded by her superior for returning to the clausura frequently tardy. She redeemed herself in the other subject she taught—history of western civilization. She left us in awe about “the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome,” so that on our early trips to Europe, she was the one teacher we had in mind.

Sr. Mary Bernard Lansang, OSB, was our teacher in biology, a subject we adolescents were curious about. How she disappointed us by not going beyond the life cycle and reproductive system of the frog. And we got “curiouser and curiouser” by the intensity of her blush with every leading question that the more daring among us asked. Of course, it was also virgin (pun deliberate) territory for her, again on a new assignment as a greenhorn nun-teacher.

Today, when we visit Sister Berns at St. Benedict Home in St. Scholastica Marikina, despite her difficulty with walking she actively plays the organ, takes the lead in singing our favorite Scholastican hymns, and even facilitates meditation sessions for our class. It is a class that made her initial years of teaching and cloistered life particularly trying, but one that has endeared itself to her. She has outlived her “frog” reputation for, she says, going by the population growth statistics of our class, we have not done too badly. And perhaps neither has she as biology teacher.

Sr. Angelica Leviste, OSB, was never my teacher, but what a constant presence in my life she was, a keeper of my girlhood secrets and sentimental memorabilia. We hero-worshipped her as a campus figure and stage actress in the school’s anticommunist drama of the 1950s, “Bamboo Cross,” directed by Daisy H. Avellana. So, we felt we had known her forever even as a young nun. We loved the melodious way she spoke, the gentleness and warmth she always exuded. And what strength and grace she demonstrated in adversity, especially with the recent losses of three brothers, one after another, leaving her the only surviving sibling.

What a singular blessing to have known these five women who fortunately continue to be part of my world.

Sam Miguel
10-14-2013, 09:30 AM
UST holds ‘The Role of Translation in the K-12 Curriculum’ on World Translation Day

(The Philippine Star) | Updated October 14, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The UST Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies (CCWLS) and Ang Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL) held a National Seminar on Translation, titled “The Role of Translation in the K-12 Curriculum” on Sept. 28 at the Thomas Aquinas Research Complex Auditorium. The seminar was in celebration of World Translation Day.

Dr. Isagani Cruz, Professor Emeritus of De La Salle University and President of De La Salle College, gave the keynote address, on “The Monther Tongue Policy in Grade School”; and National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera, special guest speaker, spoke on “Not Language Alone: Translation and Culture.”

Other speakers were former SEA Write awardees Marne Kilates (who, aside from writing lovely books of his own and editing an online literary magazine, has more than 30 years of experience as a literary translator), CWLS Associate Michael M. Coroza, and CCWLS Associate Rebecca Añonuevo, this year’s SEA Write awardee. Kilates, Añonuevo and Corroza are among the few Filipino writers, who, besides producing excellent poetry themselves, use their considerable gifts to translate the works of other writers.

Technical translation was discussed by Dr. Imelda de Castro of UST’s Faculty of Arts & Letters, and Minda Limbo, officer-in-charge of the Translation Division of the Komisyon ng Wika.

In her welcome remarks, CCWLS Director and Professor Emeritus Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo said that “since ours is a nation of many languages and cultures, translation is not an option, but a necessity.” “Our literatures will accomplish more effectively than anything else the task of explaining ourselves to each other,” she added, “and this we must do before we can even think of explaining ourselves to other peoples, or becoming globally competitive, which is what the new K-12 Curriculum hopes to accomplish.”

A special feature of the seminar was the launching of Volume 2, Issue 2 of Tomas, the CCWLS’s peer-reviewed, bi-lingual, literary journal. Tomas 2 includes contributions by Cirilo F. Bautista, Oscar V. Campomanes, Alma Anonas-Carpio, Paul Alcoseba Castillo, Albert B. Casuga, Michael M. Coroza, Carlomanh Arcangel Daoana, Kat del Rosario, Nerisa del Carmen Guevara, Bienvenido Lumbera, Jose Victor Torres, Recah A. Trinidad, and Sooey Valencia.

Another special feature was a short poetry reading by Kilates, Añonuevo and Corroza And Ralph Galan, Senior Resident Fellow of poems that they had translated either from English to Filipino or Filipino to English, as well as a short poetry reading by Kilates, Añonuevo and Corroza and Ralph Galan, Senior Resident Fellow, of poems that they had translated either from English to Filipino or Filipino to English.

Sam Miguel
11-04-2013, 07:58 AM
Teach for All advocates from 32 countries, 6 continents

By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:18 am | Saturday, November 2nd, 2013

When I was invited to join the Teach for All conference held on Oct. 18-24 in Shanghai and then Tenchong in Yunnan province by Teach for the Philippines founders and top officials Margarita Delgado, Lizzie Zobel, and Clarissa Delgado, I thought my only involvement would be to interview two former Beijing political exiles—my brother and former ABC News Beijing bureau chief Chito Sta. Romana and Jaime FlorCruz, the current CNN Beijing bureau chief. Their unusual experiences and life journeys were to acquaint the participants with the China mystique and, more important, inspire them on how challenges and hardships can be opportunities for unimaginable worlds awaiting to be explored.

However, two prominent names stood out in the conference program that provided the greatest incentive for all participants: Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for America, and Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times foreign affairs columnist, recipient of three Pulitzer Prizes, and internationally renowned author best known for “The World is Flat,” “Hot, Flat, and Crowded,” and “The Lexus and the Olive Tree.” With such a roster of speakers, how can one not find time for a seven-day gathering?

Kopp, as cofounder and CEO of the Teach for All network, played official host. Teach for All is the global version of Teach for America, an education-reform program that was the subject of Kopp’s undergraduate thesis at Princeton University. She was fired up with the idea of providing educational equity to all students, no matter their background. She also knew that there must be many college graduates and career-switchers in search of more meaningful jobs than what the predictable Wall Street and big corporations route offered.

Through its advocacy of hiring these individuals to teach for two years in poor public schools across the United States, Teach for All now has a roster of 11,000 teachers.

What Kopp discovered as the inadequacies of American public education—schools with limited funding, poorly trained teachers, a “disconnect between private-sector needs and public-sector performance,” and skills not adequate for gainful employment—were no different from those elsewhere in the world.

Teach for America has gained such a high degree of credibility over the years that with its acceptance rate of 14 percent, it is said to be tougher to enter than Georgetown and Cornell.

It was inevitable for the 24-year-old Teach for America model to turn global, and for Teach for All to happen. It began as a response to like-minded and concerned individuals from India to Chile to Lebanon, as detailed in the Oct. 28, 2013, issue of Fortune featuring Kopp among the business world’s “50 most powerful women.”

There were others similarly concerned about improving the quality of public education in their countries. At about the same time, Brett Wigdortz, chief strategy adviser and cofounder of Teach for All, was drawing similar inquiries from European neighbors. Wigdortz had also initiated an education-reform program in England called Teach First. It has emerged as the No. 1 recruiter of university graduates in England this year.

It is to the Teach for All network that Teach for the Philippines (TFP) proudly belongs. The obsession with educational equity for all students and the desire for transformative changes in our public school system are much in evidence. As one of the newer members, TFP presently has its first cohort of 53 fellows assigned by the Department of Education in 10 Quezon City public schools where they teach Grade 3 classes. It is the grade level that the DepEd has identified as critical, where the highest number of dropouts take place. Truly, this initiative has only been realized with the tremendous support of the Quezon City government and the DepEd, which has always considered TFP from its previous life as the 11-year-old Sa Aklat Sisikat Foundation as a partner.

Teach for All has been present though TFP’s baby steps, though it runs independently, as do all 32 members of the network across six continents. The TFP fellows, who live in the neighborhood of their schools and make frequent home visits, have just completed a first semester of their two-year teaching contracts. They are neither discouraged that many of their students cannot as yet read nor intimidated by the large class sizes they have. This crop of teachers, for whom education degrees are not a prerequisite, were recruited for the kind of leadership they offer and their desire to truly leave a mark, as the TFP mantra goes.

From 2,000+ applicants last year, only 53 were selected. As TFP prepares to recruit its second cohort for schoolyear 2014-15, we smile at the story that Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala was initially aghast but later amused and rather pleased that a keen rival for new graduates is TFP, his wife Lizzie’s organization. Apparently, more and more graduates are interested in teaching instead of corporate jobs.

And this is just to put the Teach for All conference in proper context—with more stories to come.

Sam Miguel
11-07-2013, 08:44 AM
Education, education, education


By Guy Ledoux

(The Philippine Star) | Updated November 7, 2013 - 12:00am

Ask a European to name one of the most successful EU programme and you may be surprised when the answer is not about consumer protection or the environment but the Erasmus scholarship programme.

For 25 years the Erasmus programme has allowed students from across the EU to pursue part of their studies in one or more other universities across the continent. At an age when our minds are perhaps most receptive to new ideas, students can immerse themselves in the extraordinary diversity that is Europe, often learning a new language in the bargain. Thus the value of the scholarships went far beyond the academic allowing students to grasp the life perspective of their fellow Europeans, crushing some stereotypes — and occasionally confirming others.

Under the name of Erasmus Mundus the generous scholarships are now available to students across the globe including of course to the Philippines. Just last month 26 Filipino students left for universities across Europe, but not before an enthusiastic send off by many of the 200 Filipino Erasmus Mundus Alumni at the EU Delegation. The alumni are now back in the Philippines, using their European experience to the benefit of their country’s public and private sector, while nurturing a special bond with the European countries that hosted them.

Erasmus Mundus also supports partnerships amongst academic staff. One can point to the Visayas State University in Bay Bay, Leyte where many senior academic staff pursued their masters and doctorate studies in Europe and participate in a network of Southeast Asian and European universities. While carrying out research to eradicate a pest that attacks the valuable abaca plant they have patented a machine for the extraction of its fibre – the toughest in nature – and receive research funding from Mercedes Benz aiming to use the fibre in their world famous vehicles.

Apart from the EU Erasmus Mundus scholarship several individual EU member States provide scholarship to Filipinos. In total, more than 1200 scholarship have been granted in the last decade.

Building more of these mutually beneficial partnerships in education was the driving force behind October’s highly successful European Higher Education Fair organised with EU member State embassies. Filipino academics had the opportunity to meet representatives of 31 European universities who came to the Philippines from ten EU countries. They were here to tap the surging demand amongst many young Filipinos looking to complete their studies at one of Europe’s great universities. The word is out that when it comes to studying abroad there really is no place quite like Europe.

But the sharing and learning is two way. The number of European students in Filipino universities is also growing.

“More and better jobs” has long been a battle cry for the European Union finding today its mirror in the Philippine government’s drive for job creation and inclusive growth. We all recognize that education is a key, so as the Philippines pursues its K-12 initiative, Europe also encourages young people to continue studying beyond high school.

As the search for the tools that will allow young people to thrive and prosper in a changing world the answer is the same for both Europe and the Philippines: education, education, education.

* * *

(Guy Ledoux is the Ambassador of the European Union)

11-12-2013, 09:12 AM
Students get preliminary injunction vs PSBA closure

By Janvic Mateo

(philstar.com) | Updated November 7, 2013 - 3:02pm

MANILA, Philippines - A local court has ordered the issuance of a preliminary injunction stopping the implementation of a notice announcing the closure of the Philippine School of Business Administration in Quezon City (PSBA-QC).

In a 12-page order dated Nov. 6 and was released to the media on Wednesday, QC Regional Trial Court Branch 104 Judge Catherine Manodon said that there is an urgent necessity to restrain the implementation of the school’s closure last Oct. 18.

“The petitioners, as students of PSBA-QC, have the right to enroll until graduation, in recognition of the Constitutional guarantee of institutional academic freedom, as provided under Section 83 of the MORPHE (Manual of Regulations for Private Higher Education)” said the judge.

“Closure will adversely affect scholars and employees who will lose their jobs,” she added.

Manodon explained that while the closure of a program or a school is an exception to the right of the students to enroll until graduation, the MORPHE “still requires that the termination or closure of a higher education institution should be effected at the end of the academic year.”

The judge added that the PSBA-QC has not proven its claim that it suffered serious business losses, which is among the grounds for the closure as stated in the notice released on the school’s website on Sept. 23, and was published in The STAR in the following week.

The notice – signed by stockholders Juan Lim as chairman and Ramon Peralta as president – said that the school’s board of directors and stockholders representing at least 98.99 percent of the outstanding capital stock of PSBA-QC has unanimously approved the closure of the school effective Oct. 18.

It also notified the termination of all academic personnel effective Nov. 8, and all non-academic personnel effective Nov. 29.

Students Mary Plet Paguio, Charlene Zape, and Patrick Lloret – represented by former QC councilor and PSBA-QC alumnus Antonio Inton, as well as lawyers VJ Topacio and Daniel Adeva III – filed a petition seeking to stop the school’s closure.

“The closure of the school and the non-acceptance of students for enrollment will certainly be to the damage and prejudice of respondents who have the proprietary right to continue their course up to graduation,” read the petition.

Named respondents in the petition were Lim, Peralta, listed stockholder Antonio Magtalas, Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chairperson Patricia Licuanan, and CHED National Capital Region Director Catherine Castañeda.

It noted that the legal personality of Magtalas to sit in the school’s board of directors is currently being questioned by sitting president Benjamin Paulino.

Manodon said what is clear from the evidence presented was that the closure is primarily due to the intra-corporate dispute between Paulino and the other respondents.

“The Court believes that the students should not be made to suffer due to the said intra-corporate dispute among the stockholders and officers of the school,” read the order.

“The dispute which is related to this case, being the primary reason for the closure, should be resolved first, pending which there is a need to preserve the status quo through a writ of injunction to avoid unnecessary damage to the students as well as the faculty, staff, and other employees of the school,” it added.

In a notice published in The STAR on Oct. 11, Lim and Peralta accused Paulino of running the school without authority from PSBA Inc. – QC and certification from CHED.

“He alone is responsible for any and all acts, contracts, transactions and/or liabilities of whatever kind, nature or purpose, that had arisen or may yet arise as a consequence of his acts,” read the notice.

“PSBA Inc. – QC hereby asserts its rights to the land, building, facilities and equipment situated at 1029 Aurora Boulevard, Quezon City 1109,” it added.

Paulino, meanwhile, wrote a letter to Licuanan and asked CHED not to give due course on the application for the voluntary closure of the school. He identified himself as president of PSBA-QC, and said that he was belatedly informed of the meeting where the closure was decided upon by the other stockholders.

In a manifestation and motion on Nov. 8, the PSBA-QC asked the court to dismiss the application for preliminary injunction on the ground that the “act sought to be enjoined is completed.”

It noted that the earlier 20-day temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the court in Oct 17 was not served on the day of the closure, and that the P200,000-bond required by the court was not posted as of Oct. 24.

But Manodon said the respondents were already aware that the TRO was already issued and that the issuance of a notice of the stoppage of operation of PSBA-QC “indicates bad faith.”

The judge noted that the petitioners were able to post the cash bond on Oct. 24.

Manodon ordered the petitioners to post another P200,000-bond “to answer for damages that may be suffered by the respondents as a result of the issuance” of the preliminary injunction.

11-18-2013, 02:51 PM
What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland's School Success

Anu Partanen Dec 29 2011, 3:00 PM ET

The Scandinavian country is an education superpower because it values equality more than excellence.

Everyone agrees the United States needs to improve its education system dramatically, but how? One of the hottest trends in education reform lately is looking at the stunning success of the West's reigning education superpower, Finland. Trouble is, when it comes to the lessons that Finnish schools have to offer, most of the discussion seems to be missing the point.

The small Nordic country of Finland used to be known -- if it was known for anything at all -- as the home of Nokia, the mobile phone giant. But lately Finland has been attracting attention on global surveys of quality of life -- Newsweek ranked it number one last year -- and Finland's national education system has been receiving particular praise, because in recent years Finnish students have been turning in some of the highest test scores in the world.

Finland's schools owe their newfound fame primarily to one study: the PISA survey, conducted every three years by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The survey compares 15-year-olds in different countries in reading, math, and science. Finland has ranked at or near the top in all three competencies on every survey since 2000, neck and neck with superachievers such as South Korea and Singapore. In the most recent survey in 2009 Finland slipped slightly, with students in Shanghai, China, taking the best scores, but the Finns are still near the very top. Throughout the same period, the PISA performance of the United States has been middling, at best.

Compared with the stereotype of the East Asian model -- long hours of exhaustive cramming and rote memorization -- Finland's success is especially intriguing because Finnish schools assign less homework and engage children in more creative play. All this has led to a continuous stream of foreign delegations making the pilgrimage to Finland to visit schools and talk with the nation's education experts, and constant coverage in the worldwide media marveling at the Finnish miracle.

So there was considerable interest in a recent visit to the U.S. by one of the leading Finnish authorities on education reform, Pasi Sahlberg, director of the Finnish Ministry of Education's Center for International Mobility and author of the new book Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland? Earlier this month, Sahlberg stopped by the Dwight School in New York City to speak with educators and students, and his visit received national media attention and generated much discussion.

And yet it wasn't clear that Sahlberg's message was actually getting through. As Sahlberg put it to me later, there are certain things nobody in America really wants to talk about.

* * *

During the afternoon that Sahlberg spent at the Dwight School, a photographer from the New York Times jockeyed for position with Dan Rather's TV crew as Sahlberg participated in a roundtable chat with students. The subsequent article in the Times about the event would focus on Finland as an "intriguing school-reform model."

Yet one of the most significant things Sahlberg said passed practically unnoticed. "Oh," he mentioned at one point, "and there are no private schools in Finland."

This notion may seem difficult for an American to digest, but it's true. Only a small number of independent schools exist in Finland, and even they are all publicly financed. None is allowed to charge tuition fees. There are no private universities, either. This means that practically every person in Finland attends public school, whether for pre-K or a Ph.D.

The irony of Sahlberg's making this comment during a talk at the Dwight School seemed obvious. Like many of America's best schools, Dwight is a private institution that costs high-school students upward of $35,000 a year to attend -- not to mention that Dwight, in particular, is run for profit, an increasing trend in the U.S. Yet no one in the room commented on Sahlberg's statement. I found this surprising. Sahlberg himself did not.

Sahlberg knows what Americans like to talk about when it comes to education, because he's become their go-to guy in Finland. The son of two teachers, he grew up in a Finnish school. He taught mathematics and physics in a junior high school in Helsinki, worked his way through a variety of positions in the Finnish Ministry of Education, and spent years as an education expert at the OECD, the World Bank, and other international organizations.

Now, in addition to his other duties, Sahlberg hosts about a hundred visits a year by foreign educators, including many Americans, who want to know the secret of Finland's success. Sahlberg's new book is partly an attempt to help answer the questions he always gets asked.

From his point of view, Americans are consistently obsessed with certain questions: How can you keep track of students' performance if you don't test them constantly? How can you improve teaching if you have no accountability for bad teachers or merit pay for good teachers? How do you foster competition and engage the private sector? How do you provide school choice?

The answers Finland provides seem to run counter to just about everything America's school reformers are trying to do.

For starters, Finland has no standardized tests. The only exception is what's called the National Matriculation Exam, which everyone takes at the end of a voluntary upper-secondary school, roughly the equivalent of American high school.

Instead, the public school system's teachers are trained to assess children in classrooms using independent tests they create themselves. All children receive a report card at the end of each semester, but these reports are based on individualized grading by each teacher. Periodically, the Ministry of Education tracks national progress by testing a few sample groups across a range of different schools.

As for accountability of teachers and administrators, Sahlberg shrugs. "There's no word for accountability in Finnish," he later told an audience at the Teachers College of Columbia University. "Accountability is something that is left when responsibility has been subtracted."

For Sahlberg what matters is that in Finland all teachers and administrators are given prestige, decent pay, and a lot of responsibility. A master's degree is required to enter the profession, and teacher training programs are among the most selective professional schools in the country. If a teacher is bad, it is the principal's responsibility to notice and deal with it.

And while Americans love to talk about competition, Sahlberg points out that nothing makes Finns more uncomfortable. In his book Sahlberg quotes a line from Finnish writer named Samuli Paronen: "Real winners do not compete." It's hard to think of a more un-American idea, but when it comes to education, Finland's success shows that the Finnish attitude might have merits. There are no lists of best schools or teachers in Finland. The main driver of education policy is not competition between teachers and between schools, but cooperation.

Finally, in Finland, school choice is noticeably not a priority, nor is engaging the private sector at all. Which brings us back to the silence after Sahlberg's comment at the Dwight School that schools like Dwight don't exist in Finland.

"Here in America," Sahlberg said at the Teachers College, "parents can choose to take their kids to private schools. It's the same idea of a marketplace that applies to, say, shops. Schools are a shop and parents can buy what ever they want. In Finland parents can also choose. But the options are all the same."

Herein lay the real shocker. As Sahlberg continued, his core message emerged, whether or not anyone in his American audience heard it.

Decades ago, when the Finnish school system was badly in need of reform, the goal of the program that Finland instituted, resulting in so much success today, was never excellence. It was equity.

* * *

11-18-2013, 02:52 PM
^ (Continued)

Since the 1980s, the main driver of Finnish education policy has been the idea that every child should have exactly the same opportunity to learn, regardless of family background, income, or geographic location. Education has been seen first and foremost not as a way to produce star performers, but as an instrument to even out social inequality.

In the Finnish view, as Sahlberg describes it, this means that schools should be healthy, safe environments for children. This starts with the basics. Finland offers all pupils free school meals, easy access to health care, psychological counseling, and individualized student guidance.

In fact, since academic excellence wasn't a particular priority on the Finnish to-do list, when Finland's students scored so high on the first PISA survey in 2001, many Finns thought the results must be a mistake. But subsequent PISA tests confirmed that Finland -- unlike, say, very similar countries such as Norway -- was producing academic excellence through its particular policy focus on equity.

That this point is almost always ignored or brushed aside in the U.S. seems especially poignant at the moment, after the financial crisis and Occupy Wall Street movement have brought the problems of inequality in America into such sharp focus. The chasm between those who can afford $35,000 in tuition per child per year -- or even just the price of a house in a good public school district -- and the other "99 percent" is painfully plain to see.

* * *

Pasi Sahlberg goes out of his way to emphasize that his book Finnish Lessons is not meant as a how-to guide for fixing the education systems of other countries. All countries are different, and as many Americans point out, Finland is a small nation with a much more homogeneous population than the United States.

Yet Sahlberg doesn't think that questions of size or homogeneity should give Americans reason to dismiss the Finnish example. Finland is a relatively homogeneous country -- as of 2010, just 4.6 percent of Finnish residents had been born in another country, compared with 12.7 percent in the United States. But the number of foreign-born residents in Finland doubled during the decade leading up to 2010, and the country didn't lose its edge in education. Immigrants tended to concentrate in certain areas, causing some schools to become much more mixed than others, yet there has not been much change in the remarkable lack of variation between Finnish schools in the PISA surveys across the same period.

Samuel Abrams, a visiting scholar at Columbia University's Teachers College, has addressed the effects of size and homogeneity on a nation's education performance by comparing Finland with another Nordic country: Norway. Like Finland, Norway is small and not especially diverse overall, but unlike Finland it has taken an approach to education that is more American than Finnish. The result? Mediocre performance in the PISA survey. Educational policy, Abrams suggests, is probably more important to the success of a country's school system than the nation's size or ethnic makeup.

Indeed, Finland's population of 5.4 million can be compared to many an American state -- after all, most American education is managed at the state level. According to the Migration Policy Institute, a research organization in Washington, there were 18 states in the U.S. in 2010 with an identical or significantly smaller percentage of foreign-born residents than Finland.

What's more, despite their many differences, Finland and the U.S. have an educational goal in common. When Finnish policymakers decided to reform the country's education system in the 1970s, they did so because they realized that to be competitive, Finland couldn't rely on manufacturing or its scant natural resources and instead had to invest in a knowledge-based economy.

With America's manufacturing industries now in decline, the goal of educational policy in the U.S. -- as articulated by most everyone from President Obama on down -- is to preserve American competitiveness by doing the same thing. Finland's experience suggests that to win at that game, a country has to prepare not just some of its population well, but all of its population well, for the new economy. To possess some of the best schools in the world might still not be good enough if there are children being left behind.

Is that an impossible goal? Sahlberg says that while his book isn't meant to be a how-to manual, it is meant to be a "pamphlet of hope."

"When President Kennedy was making his appeal for advancing American science and technology by putting a man on the moon by the end of the 1960's, many said it couldn't be done," Sahlberg said during his visit to New York. "But he had a dream. Just like Martin Luther King a few years later had a dream. Those dreams came true. Finland's dream was that we want to have a good public education for every child regardless of where they go to school or what kind of families they come from, and many even in Finland said it couldn't be done."

Clearly, many were wrong. It is possible to create equality. And perhaps even more important -- as a challenge to the American way of thinking about education reform -- Finland's experience shows that it is possible to achieve excellence by focusing not on competition, but on cooperation, and not on choice, but on equity.

The problem facing education in America isn't the ethnic diversity of the population but the economic inequality of society, and this is precisely the problem that Finnish education reform addressed. More equity at home might just be what America needs to be more competitive abroad.

11-18-2013, 03:58 PM
Paris Was My Middle-School Classroom

What I learned from two years of homeschooling in Europe

Tara Isabella Burton Nov 14 2013, 12:32 PM ET

When it comes to homeschooling, public perception is largely limited to a few, all-pervasive tropes. The first is that of the religious homeschooler–those who, like David d'Escoto of Christian website Crosswalk.com, see public schools as the “biggest morality corrupters and worldview warpers” in America. Less common, but still prevalent, is that of the self-proclaimed “hippie homeschooler,” inspired by texts like Grace Llewellyn's The Teenage Liberation handbook to practice an extreme version of free-range parenting, in which children are encouraged to determine their own curriculum in accordance with their passions. Yet, even as a full three percent of the school-age population in America embraces homeschooling, according to a 2012 New York Magazine article by Lisa Miller, homeschooling is all too often treated as a monolith: Homeschoolers are either fundamentalists or anarchists, religious extremists or hippies. Rarely, if ever, is it explored as a potential educational setting for so-called “gifted” children–those looking for an academic challenge beyond that which their local educational facilities can provide.

Yet, during the two years I spent on-and-off as a homeschooled middle-schooler (spanning what would have been the seventh and eighth grades), the opportunity to work at my own pace and largely develop my own curriculum provided me with a level of academic intensity and emotional as well as intellectual independence unavailable (and, indeed, unaffordable) through more traditional means. Part of the decision to homeschool was pragmatic—my mother's work took us to France, then Italy, in quick succession. Yet no less influential was my—and my mother's—desire to offer me a degree of challenge beyond that which the schools I had attended could provide.

My experience was not quite “unschooling”—a philosophy of homeschooling that allows the student complete autonomy in the development of her curriculum. My mother made sure I had a certain degree of structure. I took math, along with a basic essay-writing program, as a series of online courses through Johns Hopkins' Center for Talented Youth, which allowed me to move as quickly or as slowly through the material as I chose. I had a private Latin tutor once a week. I followed part of an AP physics course through a Stanford University program. My mother encouraged me to go chapter-by-chapter through an AP World History textbook, to write up my answers to questions and discuss them with her. The freedom to work at my own pace allowed me to work above grade level, as well as to explore subjects in a less conventional way. After a few weeks of translating Cicero's speeches, my Latin teacher had me print out and go through George Bush's 2004 State of the Union Address for examples of the rhetorical devices I had learned: combining the traditional, textbook-led Oxford Latin syllabus with a more nuanced, interdisciplinary approach.

Yet the majority of my learning took place outside the bounds of the curriculum. Language learning happened by default—we were living in Paris, then Rome. I was encouraged to spend as much time as possible outside on my bicycle, visiting the historical sites that interested me most, teaching myself to communicate out of sheer necessity. I was given free rein to explore the household bookshelves—to craft a humanities course according to my own interests. Textbooks and popular history books were readily available; my mother encouraged me to “read them like novels”—in other words, to visualize the vast panorama of human history not as a series of facts to be memorized, but as the stories: vivid and gripping, of real people, people I could care about and remember.

For me, novels—and the freedom to spend my days reading as many as I liked—formed the backbone of my education. My mother had filled my bookshelves with classics. I read them all—missing nuance, no doubt, but internalizing from early on the possibilities of the form. I developed my own, curious, not always age-appropriate obsessions—the poetry and novels of fin de siecle Paris, the scandals of Ancient Rome—and allowed them to guide me ever deeper down the educational rabbit hole. In Paris, I spent hours walking through Montmartre with a marked-up copy of the “late nineteenth century” chapter of Alistair Horne's Seven Ages of Paris and the entire macabre output of Dedalus European Classics, visiting the streets where my literary idols had lived. In Rome, I read Orlando Figes' Natasha's Dance—a cultural history of Russia—and promptly taught myself a serviceable amount of Russian and started on Anna Karenina in translation. I learned about romanticism from Goethe and modern Egyptian history from the novels of Naguib Mahfouz. Sex education came courtesy of D.H. Lawrence, Henry Miller, and the diaries of Anais Nin.

Most importantly of all, I learned to trust my own instincts. It's all too easy, as a child raised in the hothousing-heavy environment of New York City, to associate self-worth with grades, external standards, whether or not a teacher approved of my stance, whether or not my sixth-grade geography test would get me into Harvard six years later. As Dr. Carlo Ricci, unschooling advocate and professor of alternative learning at Nipissing University, put it in a telephone interview: “Even students who are successful, getting straight A's, the highest accolades, by being students in school have fear and anxiety about maintaining these types of grades. You don't really get a sense of who you are, what your interests are, what your passions are [but are] being filled by other people's idea of what it means to be a human being.” As a typically neurotic straight-A student at a New York private school, I'd internalized the idea of education as a means to an end. As a homeschooled teenager, without grades or teachers, I learned to love knowledge for its own sake, and, just as importantly to trust in my ability to attain it.

Far from destroying my ability to function within a traditional setting, however, my time homeschooling only enhanced it. When I returned to traditional education as a high-school freshman at a New England boarding school known for its rigor and expectations of independence, I found myself surprisingly well-prepared for its demands. I knew how to manage my time effectively, how to approach the hours of homework as an opportunity to learn rather than a chore to be cleared away. I knew, too, how to defend my academic arguments, to not back down simply because another student disagreed with me about the causes of the American Civil War. In the absence of external signifiers of success, I had learned how to measure my own.

My experience was certainly anomalous even among homeschoolers. The time I spent living outside my home country provided me with a set of advantages and was a privilege, one that goes beyond the bounds of what most homeschooling models can typically offer. (Though some homeschooling parents, like the itinerant family behind the blog SoulTravelers3, take the nomadic lifestyle to the extreme). Still, I'm far from the only homeschooled student to find that the experience helped, rather than hindered,my education as a whole.

Alice Ensor, now a graduate student at the University of Vienna, recalls her own experience re-integrating into the collegiate system after spending middle and high school “unschooled” according to the Teenage Liberation Guide model, “follow[ing] wherever my intellectual fancy led me,” from “examining protozoa” in the local creek to devouring books about the Ancient Phoenicians. “Even though it may seem counter-intuitive considering how laid back and unstructured my homeschooling experience was,” writes Alice of her transition to Missouri Southern State University, “because I had spent the previous three years managing and taking responsibility for my own education, I had developed a certain amount of self-motivation and maturity that better prepared me for the rigors of academia than any traditional education could ever have.” Certainly, the numbers seem to bear out the notion that homeschooled students can, if they desire, succeed according to more traditional metrics. According to reports by the Home School Legal Defense Association, homeschoolers consistently score above the national average on both the SAT and ACT college entrance examinations.

There remains, of course, the stereotype that homeschoolers suffer socially. That certainly wasn't the case for me. When I came to Exeter, I was, I suppose, reasonably socially awkward, but after a few weeks being gently teased for being “the girl who sounds like Shakespeare,” I ended up no less well-adjusted than any other teenager (which is to say, passably so). If anything, the independence and confidence I'd fostered as a homeschooler made my experience of high school easier. If I was sick of cliquey drama—not an uncommon occurrence in the 11th grade—it felt entirely natural to get on the local bus to visit a nearby town, spending a day quite happily in a local bookstore, without ever feeling that my life began and ended in a school dining hall.

As a current doctoral student (studying the theology of fin de siecle French literature—I've come full-circle back to my preteen obsessions), I find myself frequently working on texts on which there exists minimal scholarship, forced to come to my own conclusions about their importance. My supervisors provide guidance, but for my DPhil to succeed as a work of scholarship, the work I do—and the conclusions I draw—must necessarily be independent and self-motivated. Once again, I control my own schedule; once again, I choose the books I read; once again, I come to my own conclusions. I can think of no better preparation for such work than the path I choose.

Sam Miguel
11-28-2013, 10:59 AM
Filipino and GEC


By Isagani Cruz

(The Philippine Star) | Updated November 28, 2013 - 12:00am

Administrators from Adamson University, Angeles U Foundation, Ateneo de Davao U, Batangas SU, Bulacan State U, Cagayan SU, Cavite SU, Central Luzon SU, FEU, Mariano Marcos SU, Miriam College, National U, New Era U, Our Lady of Fatima U, Pangasinan SU, Philippine Christian U, PUP, Silliman U, St. Paul U, U of Cordillera, UE, UST, and other Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), in a national conference sponsored by the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino, held in Manila, last October, drafted a resolution in Filipino, which I wish to share in my rough English translation:

“Whereas Article XIV, Section 6-7, of the 1987 Constitution states that ‘the Government shall take steps to initiate and sustain the use of Filipino as a medium of official communication and as language of instruction in the educational system’;

“Whereas the Commission on Higher Education Memorandum Order No. 20, states that Filipino and English may be used as languages of instruction for the courses in the new General Education Curriculum;

“Therefore, be it resolved as it is hereby resolved, that CHED be asked to require that the teaching of all the GE courses be multidisciplinary, rather than disciplinal, which implies that no one department should be allowed to have the exclusive right to teach any of the required courses in the General Education Curriculum;

“Resolved further, that every core subject in the General Education Curriculum that is taught in English should have an equivalent that is taught in Filipino;

“Resolved further, that CHED be asked to revise the General Education Curriculum to add six (6) more units of core subjects, to add to the existing twenty-four (24) units, in order to have thirty (30) units of required core subjects;

“Resolved further, that CHED be asked to recommend that six (6) units of the nine (9) elective units be taught in Filipino, such as Philippine Popular Culture, Philippine Indigenous Communities, and Advanced Filipino Translation;

“Resolved finally, that CHED be asked to circulate a CHED Memorandum Order to this effect to all private and public universities and colleges in order that this Resolution may be fulfilled;

“Approved and signed by delegates to the National Consultation on Tertiary Education held on 2 October 2013 at the BP International Powerhouse Hotel, Ermita, Manila.”

I am a member of the CHED Technical Panel on General Education, which drafted CMO 20, series of 2013, that the CHED Commissioners subsequently approved. I do not speak for the Technical Panel, nor for CHED itself. I would like, however, to react as myself to the Resolution.

First, I agree completely that we should follow the Constitution. I am sure that, if someone would take the trouble to ask the Supreme Court to interpret the provision on language of instruction, that the Court will have no option but to follow the letter of the law. Therefore, the ideal state is really that all subjects in the entire educational system should be taught in the national language.

Second, it is also true that our Technical Panel is very clear in saying that there is no command to use English (or any other language, including Filipino) as medium of instruction in higher education. Mandating a language of instruction would go against another provision of the Constitution, namely, Section 5 of the same article cited in the Resolution (“Academic freedom shall be enjoyed in all institutions of higher learning”).

Academic freedom is generally understood as having the right to choose who to teach (admissions and retention policies), what to teach (curriculum), and how to teach (methods of instruction). The freedom to decide how to teach includes the right to choose the language of instruction, because the language of instruction is a major element of lesson planning and lesson delivery.

This is why I do not agree that HEIs should be forced to teach certain subjects only in Filipino. That would go against the right to choose the language of instruction. Of course, this also means that HEIs should not be forced to teach certain subjects only in English. Choosing the language of instruction should depend on the efficacy of the language in delivering instruction with a specific desired outcome to a specific set of students.

Third, there is no problem about multidisciplinarity. The CMO is very clear that every single subject in the new General Education Curriculum should be multidisciplinary. It would be silly to restrict multidisciplinarity to the content of the subject but not to its form (or language of instruction). The congruence of content and form is a long-tested principle of any human endeavor. (To make it absurd, think of a priest delivering a sermon using four-letter words.)

Finally, I am personally against adding any more units to the General Education Curriculum. No one else in the whole world has as many units of General Education as we do. (The Technical Panel did research on this, before it proposed the curriculum.) 36 units is a good compromise. I am even against adding the so-called mandated topics, but that will have to wait for another column.

In any case, I hope CHED listens to the Resolution, done by a number of private and public universities.

12-04-2013, 09:46 AM
PH basic education: 'Cramming' toward ASEAN 2015

by Jee Y. Geronimo

Posted on 12/03/2013 11:33 AM | Updated 12/03/2013 4:03 PM

MANILA, Philippines – When it comes to the impending ASEAN economic integration in 2015, the Philippines is cramming things it should have done a decade ago because bureaucracy got in the way then, the education chief said.

In 2015, an ASEAN Economic Community will be established, marking the start of free trade among the organization's 10 member-states allowing free flow of goods and services – education services included.

Speaking to Rappler and Manila Bulletin on the sidelines of an education conference Monday, December 2, Education Secretary Armin Luistro admitted: “The Philippines is having a bit of a difficulty because there are things that we really are rushing and cramming about which we should have done earlier. But the political landscape at that time was not ready, so those things did not push through,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.

It was a kind of landscape where having separate agencies managing the education system – basic education (Department of Education or DepEd), technical-vocational (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority or TESDA), and higher education (Commission on Higher Education or CHED) – brought division instead of unity to the government's education sector.

The country only started to see more reforms in the last two years, compared to the last decade, said former Education Secretary Erlinda Pefianco, who also spoke at the conference attended by thousands of educators.

She cited what actions the government has taken from 2012 to 2013 vis-à-vis what has been done in the years before:

Basic education reforms BEFORE 2012 2012-2013

Trifocalization of Education in the Philippines (by the Education Committee in 1991) Republic Act 10157: Kindergarten Education Act
Republic Act 9155: Governance of Basic Education Act of 2001 (renaming the Department of Education, Culture and Sports as the Department of Education) Executive Order No. 83, s. 2012: Institutionalization of the Philippine Qualifications Framework; Republic Act 10410: Early Years Act (EYA) of 2013; Republic Act 10533: Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013.

The 3 government agencies learned to closely coordinate when they had to help put together the Philippine Qualifications Framework (PQF). It seeks to align the country "with international qualifications framework" to make it easier for workers to move to and be absorbed in other ASEAN countries.

In the basic education sector, Pefianco said we are already at par with the rest of the world with the enactment of K to 12. But there's more work to be done for both public and private schools in view of ASEAN 2015.

“If ASEAN 2015 really pushes through, the travel of students, even minors, will happen because it should be cheaper...So there should be more access even to physical travel,” Luistro said.

“Because of that, our curriculum should also be ready both ways – for students to move to another ASEAN country and not to have difficulty being absorbed, and the other way around...we have to be ready also to accept other international students into the DepEd,” he said.

The role of private schools

Pefianco said statistics from DepEd (SY 2012-2013) show private schools are underutilized:

1 out of 5 Philippine schools is a private school
1 out of 10 Filipino pupils is enrolled in private elementary schools
1 out of 5 Filipino students is enrolled in private secondary schools.
The school to enrollment ratio of private elementary schools is 1:212. For public, it's 1:389
The school to enrollment ratio of private secondary schools is 1:275. For public, it's 1:728

The thousand-strong crowd in the conference, mostly from private schools, reacted to this statement, which prompted Pefianco to challenge everyone: "It is time to establish [a] new and more strategic role for private schools as partners for ASEAN 2015." (READ: 3 things the private sector can do for basic education)

One step toward a more strategic role, she said, is to review, revisit, or even amend two basic documents:

2010 Revised Manual Of Regulations for Private Schools in Basic Education
Republic Act 8545: "Expanded Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education Act"

Contrasting educators, businessmen

Luistro said for him, there is no other group more apt to look at the integration than the education sector because of how they define a community.

“Educators look at it from [a] long-term view," he said. "Generally – and this is not a criticism of businessmen – of course they [think] more immediate because they're talking of money and investment and all.”

“I think, in general, educators look at integration based on how you bring people together. So you bring in culture, you bring in traditions, how societies can come together. Businessmen see it differently. How do you reintegrate the economies of these countries so that it's easier to invest in one country, it's easier to hire the best people and move from one country to another?” Luistro said.

Luistro and Pefianco urged educators to revisit the principles of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO), which has been around earlier than the ASEAN.

“There's a big difference [from ASEAN 2015] because the SEAMEO is from the point of view of young people and educators. If you look at ASEAN 2015, it's about trade, about economy...For me, merge the two because they have to go through ASEAN 2015. But let us make sure that we keep anchored on the principles of SEAMEO because the principles that created SEAMEO are very good,” Luistro said in a mix of English and Filipino.

SEAMEO launched this year the SEAMEO College, envisioned to facilitate the sharing and exchange of education ideas and initiatives on education among all Southeast Asian countries (ASEAN's 10 member-states plus East Timor), and other associate member-countries.

SEAMEO President Pehin Abu Bakar Apong said in an earlier report that the college will eventually contribute to fulfilling the ASEAN Community. – Rappler.com

01-08-2014, 08:20 AM
DepEd chief, UP professors buck new school calendar

By Helen Flores

(The Philippine Star) | Updated January 8, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - There is no compelling reason to change the academic calendar for elementary and high schools, the Department of Education (DepEd) said yesterday. Although they are not convinced on the urgency and necessity of the move, Education Secretary Armin Luistro said they are open to proposals to change the school opening from June to August or September.

At the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, faculty members have voted not to endorse the proposal of its administrators to move the opening of classes from June to August.

But UP vice president for public affairs Prospero de Vera said the position of the faculty of the university’s flagship campus to conduct further study on the issue is only a recommendation.

He said the decision is up to the Board of Regents (BOR), the university’s highest policy-making body.

Top universities in the country have announced plans to move the school opening to September in preparation for the economic integration of the Southeast Asian region in 2015.

This means that from the current June to March cycle, the academic year will run from September to June. Under the scheme, Philippine universities are expected to attract foreign students and facilitate the enrollment abroad of Filipino students and faculty members.

DepEd Assistant Secretary Jesus Mateo said they would discuss the matter in their next meeting.

Luistro said unlike in tertiary education, there is no common school opening among ASEAN countries. He said schools in Brunei Darussalam open in January, Cambodia in October, Indonesia in July, Laos in September, Vietnam in August, Thailand in May, and Myanmar and the Philippines in June.

“Student mobility is very limited among grade school and high school students in ASEAN,” he said, adding that changing the school calendar would mean that classes would run until the hottest months of the year.

He said public schools have no air-conditioning system and it is during summer when traditional celebrations like Holy Week, Flores de Mayo, and town fiestas are held.

“These might affect attendance,” Luistro said as he expressed concern the hot months of April and May could have a negative impact on learning. He said moving the school opening does not necessarily solve the problem on flooding during the typhoon season as weather patterns keep changing.

Luistro said the agency has been exploring various means to allow students to catch up with their lessons, particularly when classrooms are used as evacuation centers.

“School heads and field officials also employ strategies such as holding of make-up classes to ensure continuity of learning,” he said.

No endorsement

In a text message to The STAR, UP-Diliman chancellor Caesar Saloma said the Diliman university council – which is composed of all tenured faculty in the campus – voted against the proposal during its meeting on Dec. 2.

He said a forum is set in UP-Diliman next month “to study the history of academic calendar in the Philippines, and to discuss the effectiveness of learning and knowledge transfer to college students when there are differences in the school year schedule and the fiscal year.”

The forum, however, may take place a little late if the 11-member BOR decides to vote on the proposal later this month. The issue was discussed during the November and December BOR meetings.

De Vera said the position of the Diliman university council does not reflect that of other UP campuses, which have finished consultations and expressed readiness for the shift.

UP has seven constituent universities – Diliman, Manila, Los Baños, Baguio, Visayas, Mindanao, an Open University and an autonomous college in Cebu.

De Vera said UP president Alfredo Pascual wants the new school calendar implemented this year.

Aside from Pascual, the other members of the BOR include Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairman Patricia Licuanan, Sen. Pia Cayetano and Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo.

Three other members are Malacañang appointees and the rest are representatives from the alumni, faculty, students and staff.

Asean integration

De Vera earlier said the ASEAN integration in 2015 is one of the main factors that contributed to the decision of Pascual to push for the change in the academic calendar.

“One of the components of ASEAN integration is the free movement of trade and services across the region. It has an impact on higher education. We’ll have movement of students and faculty members,” he said.

The five-page policy proposal of the university noted that the shift “is consistent with the provision of UP’s charter to be a regional and global university, and addresses current developments in the region and the world.”

It said that most members of the ASEAN University Network – as well as China, Japan, Korea, European Union, and the United States – start their classes in August, September or October.

The Philippines is the only country with universities in the network that start their academic year in June, said the proposal.

“Moving of classes in August will allow greater synchronization of our academic calendar with that of ASEAN, Northeast Asian, and the American and European Universities as well... There will be less problem with semestral overlaps and students can easily get credit transfer on a per semester basis,” it added.

De Vera said there should be no problem about the longer break of high school students who will graduate in March, noting that they could use it to look for scholarships and enroll in bridging programs.

He said the calendar shift could also have a good impact on classes, as there will be no interruptions during Christmas break, which will be the new semestral break if the shift is implemented.

De Vera said the proposed shift does not need the approval of CHED since UP is an autonomous university. – With Janvic Mateo

01-08-2014, 08:42 AM
Education quality in the Asean context

By Butch Hernandez

Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:31 pm | Friday, January 3rd, 2014

The quest for education quality in fact propels all education reform initiatives. That being said, educators will be the first to say that arriving at a universal definition of education quality is actually more elusive than, say, achieving specific reform goals such as functional literacy at Grade 3, or the alignment of higher education competencies with international standards and the demands of the workplace.

Education quality is a perennial topic for both educators and education reform advocates, especially as we reflect on what lies ahead for our learners. 2014 will prove to be a particularly significant year—probably even contentious—for Philippine education because of two major events: the enactment of Republic Act No. 10533 late last year, and the apparent inevitability of Asean 2015.

Some countries have attempted to legislate education quality, at least at the basic education level. In doing so, the tenor of the promulgations invariably dwell on what the young learners need to learn, when and why.

Article 29 of the International Rights of the Child goes even further by explicitly stating that the education of the child shall be directed to: (a) the development of the child’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential; (b) the development of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and for the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations; (c) the development of respect for the child’s parents, his or her own cultural identity, language and values, for the national values of the country in which the child is living, the country from which he or she may originate, and for civilizations different from his or her own; (d) the preparation of the child for responsible life in a free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance, equality of sexes, and friendship among all peoples, ethnic, national and religious groups and persons of indigenous origin; (e) the development of respect for the natural environment.

RA 10533 or the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013 (more often called the K-to-12 Law) takes the Universal Rights of the Child to heart. It envisions “a functional basic education system that will develop productive and responsible citizens equipped with the essential competencies, skills and values for both life-long learning and employment.”

Meanwhile, two clauses in RA 10533 underline Philippine education’s global perspective. Section 2a says that every student must be given the opportunity to receive “quality education that is globally competitive,” while section 2b positions high school education for college preparation, vocational and technical career opportunities as well as creative arts, sports and entrepreneurial employment “in a rapidly changing and increasingly globalized environment.”

Asean 2015, on the other hand, when it becomes a reality, could prove disadvantageous to our graduates and professionals if we fail to address Philippine education’s long-running weaknesses before 2014 ends. CHEd’s Higher Education Reform Agenda enumerates these as: (a) the lack of overall vision, framework and plan for higher education;

(b) the deteriorating quality of higher education; and (c) the limited access to quality higher education by those who need it most.

As presented recently by De La Salle University’s Dr. John Addy S. Garcia, Asean 2015 refers to the emergence of the Asean Economic Community characterized by regional cooperation and the free flow, among the 10 Asean countries, of goods, professional services and skilled labor.

Therein lies the challenge, or more accurately a series of challenges.

Already, four of our best universities (UP, Ateneo, UST and DLSU) have indicated they would like to synchronize their academic calendars with the rest of the Asean countries. It is an obviously painful but seemingly necessary step toward integrating the Philippines into the Asean Economic Community. The Asean academic calendar’s first semester starts on the last week of August and ends in December. The semestral break coincides with the Christmas break. The second semester begins in January and ends in May. The summer break is from June to mid-August. As of this writing, CHEd Chair Patricia B. Licuanan has warned that the synchronization is not without serious consequences.

More fundamentally, the Philippine Qualifications Framework is still “a work in progress” which is a cause for deep concern, according to the eminent Jesuit Fr. Joel Tabora, president of Ateneo de Davao.

In his remarks at the “Education Leadership for Global Competitiveness and Sustainability: Responding to the Challenges of Asean 2015,” which was organized by the Fund Assistance for Private Education last December, Father Tabora explains that the mobility of [professional] practitioners in Asean presumes ability on the Asean level to recognize their qualifications.

“It is the Quality Framework that we determine in our autonomy, but that we choose to align with Asean in rationality and pragmatism…. It is the qualifications (not the nationalities, nor the religions, nor the social class, nor the educational origins, nor ‘connections’) that will bring the jobs…. If quality learning outcomes are to be assured, the assurance cannot be based on outcomes. It must be based on inputs, not just on naming outputs…

“It also involves a deep respect for academic freedom. This is because higher education is not basic education, where prescription is appropriate.

“Higher education is about the independent quest for truth in academic freedom.”

Sam Miguel
02-07-2014, 09:55 AM
UP, Ateneo classes to start in August

By Julie M. Aurelio, Kristine Felisse Mangunay

Philippine Daily Inquirer

3:14 am | Friday, February 7th, 2014

Two of the country’s top schools—the University of the Philippines (left) and Ateneo de Manila University—announced on Thursday a change in the academic calendar, shifting the opening of classes from June to August.

MANILA, Philippines—Two of the country’s top schools—the University of the Philippines (UP) and Ateneo de Manila University—announced on Thursday a change in the academic calendar, shifting the opening of classes from June to August.

Classes at UP in Manila, Los Baños, Baguio, Cebu, the Visayas and Mindanao, and UP Open University will start in August and end in May, but UP Diliman, which has “not completed consultations,” and UP Integrated School will still follow the old schedule.

The first semester will run from August to December, the second semester from January to May, and a short term from June to July.

Ateneo will start the new schedule in academic year 2015-2016 in the Loyola Schools and the Professional Schools.

Ateneo Grade School and High School will retain the June to March academic calendar.

Response to globalization

The UP and Ateneo school systems said they would adopt the August to May academic calendar as a response to an “increasingly globalized world.”

“The decision to shift the academic calendar is part of the continuing efforts of UP to develop into a regional and global university, and to maximize the opportunities offered by Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) integration and global educational partnerships,” UP president Alfredo Pascual said in a statement.

The shift to the new school calendar for the next academic year was approved by the UP Board of Regents in a meeting on Thursday, according to the Philippine Collegian, UP Diliman’s official student publication.

Of the units in the UP system, only UP Diliman will retain the present academic calendar of June to March “due to opposition by some sectors [there],” the Collegian said.

Diliman consultation

A consultation for UP Diliman students on the proposed calendar shift is scheduled for Feb. 10.

Student regent Krista Melgarejo, who attended the Board of Regents meeting, said UP Diliman would thresh out issues raised by some sectors, including the University Council, on the proposed change.

Melgarejo said the proposed change would be subject to a “referendum” on the Diliman campus.

She opposed the change in the academic calendar, saying “the majority of UP students was not consulted.”

The student regent said changing the academic calendar was just a way of jumping on the “bandwagon of the skewed logic of internationalization.”

In a statement posted on its Facebook page, Ateneo said the Board of Trustees approved the shift for the Loyola Schools and the Professional Schools in a meeting on Feb. 5.

The new calendar will take effect in school year 2015-2016, it said, after an “internal study and intensive consultations over the last eight months” with stakeholders, including faculty members, administrators, students and parents.

Partners overseas

Ateneo said the implementation of the new calendar would align its schedule with that of “more than 80 percent of its current university partners overseas” and with that of “more than 70 percent of all universities around the world.”

This would “facilitate” the “mobility” to and fro of students and faculty members, and facilitate collaborative academic programs and research, said the Jesuit-run university.

“Ateneo needs to ensure that our graduates develop a global outlook and global competencies so that they can navigate a more complex, interconnected world and contribute toward resolving global concerns,” Ateneo president Jose Ramon T. Villarin said in the statement.

For the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd), the two “autonomous” universities were within their rights to make the change.

“If they’re (UP and Ateneo) really prepared to [push through with this], then go ahead,” CHEd Executive Director Jules Vitriolo said over the phone.

He made the statement although a technical working group (TWG) was still studying the implications of a proposed shift in academic calendars.

The TWG was supposed to submit its report in March.

According to Vitriolo, UP and Ateneo could “exercise discretion” without waiting for the report since their decision to change academic calendars was “quite justified.”

He said both “world-ranking” institutions would benefit from the shift in the form of “more synchronized” links with international universities.

“Maybe only a selected few [can exercise discretion to change their academic calendars],” he said, adding that these institutions should be “deserving” and with “consistently high standards.”

Vitriolo said the report would look into the implications of a change in academic calendars “on a wider scale.”

But even before the release of the report, Vitriolo was quick to add that the CHEd did not encourage a “wider scale change” in academic calendars.

Years of preparation

“This changing of academic calendars requires years of [preparation]. Not just anyone can change the calendar. It will do more harm [if this is the case],” he said, adding that the Department of Education would not adjust its schedule.

According to Vitriolo, there may also be implications for UP and Ateneo now that they have approved the change in academic calendars.

PRC exams

There may be an overlapping of the schedule of some Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) board exams with the new school months, he said.

Villarin acknowledged that this was true, particularly with the law, medicine and electronics engineering licensure exams.

He said, however, that Ateneo was “dedicating one-and-a-half years to work through these concerns thoroughly and systematically.”

“We are confident that we will be ready by 2015,” Villarin said.

Vitriolo said UP and Ateneo “may have to request” the PRC for a special exam to deal with this problem.

It’s either this or the examinees will have to wait longer, he said.

He added, however, that this was “not a major complication.”

Asked whether there would be an effect on the number of local enrollees who become “tired” of waiting for a long time before the opening of classes, Vitriolo said, “I don’t think so.”

He said many students would like to get into UP and Ateneo, and would be “willing to wait” for months.

He acknowledged, however, that there may be an increase in the number of foreign students because the two universities’ schedules are aligned with those of international institutions.

Sam Miguel
02-25-2014, 01:46 PM
You think you know what teachers do. Right? Wrong.

By Valerie Strauss

February 22 at 11:30 am

You went to school so you think you know what teachers do, right? You are wrong. Here’s a piece explaining all of this from Sarah Blaine, a mom, former teacher and full-time practicing attorney in New Jersey who writes at her parentingthecore blog, where this first appeared.

By Sarah Blaine

We all know what teachers do, right? After all, we were all students. Each one of us, each product of public education, we each sat through class after class for thirteen years. We encountered dozens of teachers. We had our kindergarten teachers and our first grade teachers and our fifth grade teachers and our gym teachers and our art teachers and our music teachers. We had our science teachers and our social studies teachers and our English teachers and our math teachers. If we were lucky, we might even have had our Latin teachers or our Spanish teachers or our physics teachers or our psychology teachers. Heck, I even had a seventh grade “Communications Skills” teacher. We had our guidance counselors and our principals and some of us had our special education teachers and our study hall monitors.

So we know teachers. We get teachers. We know what happens in classrooms, and we know what teachers do. We know which teachers are effective, we know which teachers left lasting impressions, we know which teachers changed our lives, and we know which teachers sucked.

We know. We know which teachers changed lives for the better. We know which teachers changed lives for the worse.

Teaching as a profession has no mystery. It has no mystique. It has no respect.

We were students, and therefore we know teachers. We denigrate teachers. We criticize teachers. We can do better than teachers. After all: We do. They teach.

We are wrong.

We need to honor teachers. We need to respect teachers. We need to listen to teachers. We need to stop reducing teachers to arbitrary measurements of student growth on so-called objective exams.

Most of all, we need to stop thinking that we know anything about teaching merely by virtue of having once been students.

We don’t know.

I spent a little over a year earning a master of arts in teaching degree. Then I spent two years teaching English Language Arts in a rural public high school. And I learned that my 13 years as a public school student, my 4 years as a college student at a highly selective college, and even a great deal of my year as a master’s degree student in the education school of a flagship public university hadn’t taught me how to manage a classroom, how to reach students, how to inspire a love of learning, how to teach. Eighteen years as a student (and a year of preschool before that), and I didn’t know anything about teaching. Only years of practicing my skills and honing my skills would have rendered me a true professional. An expert. Someone who knows about the business of inspiring children. Of reaching students. Of making a difference. Of teaching.

I didn’t stay. I copped out. I left. I went home to suburban New Jersey, and a year later I enrolled in law school.

I passed the bar. I began to practice law at a prestigious large law firm. Three years as a law student had no more prepared me for the practice of law than 18 years of experience as a student had previously prepared me to teach. But even in my first year as a practicing attorney, I earned five times what a first-year teacher made in the district where I’d taught.

I worked hard in my first year of practicing law. But I didn’t work five times harder than I’d worked in my first year of teaching. In fact, I didn’t work any harder. Maybe I worked a little less.

But I continued to practice. I continued to learn. Nine years after my law school graduation, I think I have some idea of how to litigate a case. But I am not a perfect lawyer. There is still more I could learn, more I could do, better legal instincts I could develop over time. I could hone my strategic sense. I could do better, be better. Learn more law. Learn more procedure. But law is a practice, law is a profession. Lawyers are expected to evolve over the course of their careers. Lawyers are given more responsibility as they earn it.

New teachers take on full responsibility the day they set foot in their first classrooms.

The people I encounter out in the world now respect me as a lawyer, as a professional, in part because the vast majority of them have absolutely no idea what I really do.

All of you former students who are not teachers and not lawyers, you have no more idea of what it is to teach than you do of what it is to practice law.

All of you former students: you did not design curricula, plan lessons, attend faculty meetings, assess papers, design rubrics, create exams, prepare report cards, and monitor attendance. You did not tutor students, review rough drafts, and create study questions. You did not assign homework. You did not write daily lesson objectives on the white board. You did not write poems of the week on the white board. You did not write homework on the white board. You did not learn to write legibly on the white board while simultaneously making sure that none of your students threw a chair out a window.

You did not design lessons that succeeded. You did not design lessons that failed.

You did not learn to keep your students quiet during lock down drills.

You did not learn that your 15-year-old students were pregnant from their answers to vocabulary quizzes. You did not learn how to teach functionally illiterate high school students to appreciate Shakespeare. You did not design lessons to teach students close reading skills by starting with the lyrics to pop songs. You did not miserably fail your honors level students at least in part because you had no books to give them. You did not struggle to teach your students how to develop a thesis for their essays, and bask in the joy of having taught a successful lesson, of having gotten through to them, even for five minutes. You did not struggle with trying to make SAT-level vocabulary relevant to students who did not have a single college in their county. You did not laugh — because you so desperately wanted to cry — when you read some of the absurdities on their final exams. You did not struggle to reach students who proudly announced that they only came to school so that their mom’s food stamps didn’t get reduced.

You did not spend all of New Years’ Day crying five years after you’d left the classroom because you reviewed The New York Times’ graphic of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and learned that one of your very favorite students had been killed in Iraq two years before. And you didn’t know. Because you copped out and left. So you cried, helplessly, and the next day you returned to the practice of law.

You did not. And you don’t know. You observed. Maybe you learned. But you didn’t teach.

The problem with teaching as a profession is that every single adult citizen of this country thinks that they know what teachers do. And they don’t. So they prescribe solutions, and they develop public policy, and they editorialize, and they politicize. And they don’t listen to those who do know. Those who could teach. The teachers.

Sam Miguel
02-27-2014, 08:11 AM
Language the unifier

By Peter Wallace

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:14 am | Thursday, February 27th, 2014

I know it’s unpopular with the nationalists, but I’ve long argued the importance of not losing English as the country’s principal language. Yes, losing. When my wife went to school in the ’50s and ’60s, English was the language of tuition and the language at home together with Tagalog.

I have never accepted the argument that you learn best in Tagalog, or Cebuano, or Ilocano, or Pampango because it’s the native language at home, because if you’re taught in English, the language at home for the next generation is English. Equally, to claim it is necessary to establish a sense of nationhood is disputed by the many countries where the native language has been replaced by English, yet pride in nationhood is strong. The history, the culture, define a nation. Yes, the nuances of a local language are important because it best expresses the culture, but we live in a globalized world today where, if we want to succeed, we must make some changes. One of them is language.

I readily accept retention of Filipino as the primary language, but taught equally with English. Young brains readily accept a two-language education. Whether Tagalog should be replaced with a local dialect (or, more correctly, in several instances, a local language) is probably okay if there’s the unifying language of English.

It came home to me over the weekend while reading the Economist, the world’s finest and most thought-provoking English-language magazine. The world is changing, is integrating, at a pace never envisioned. “Globalization” is the word of this century, and we must be part of that highly interconnected, globalized world.

To make my point, let me quote the Economist, as it said it far better than I can. So here it is, with due acknowledgement (Senator Sotto, please note) to the article “The English empire” (2/15/2014).

The first point is whether the only other real contender should be Chinese. This is what they said: “The Académie Française may be prickly about the advance of English. But there is no real alternative as a global business language. The most plausible contender, Mandarin Chinese, is one of the world’s most difficult to master, and least computer-friendly.” The “least computer-friendly” is what most struck me. In a world that is overwhelmingly computerized today, this is a critical requirement.

The piece started with examples: “Yang Yuanquing, Lenovo’s boss, hardly spoke a word of English until he was about 40: he grew up in rural poverty and read engineering at university. But when Lenovo bought IBM’s personal-computer division in 2005 he decided to immerse himself in English: he moved his family to North Carolina, hired a language tutor and—the ultimate sacrifice—spent hours watching cable-TV news.

“Lenovo is one of a growing number of multinationals from the non-Anglophone world that have made English their official language. The fashion began in places with small populations but global ambitions such as Singapore (which retained English as its lingua franca when it left the British empire in 1963), the Nordic countries and Switzerland. The practice spread to the big European countries: numerous German and French multinationals now use English in board meetings and official documents.

“Corporate English is now invading more difficult territory such as Japan. Rakuten, a cross between Amazon and eBay, and Fast Retailing, which operates the Uniqlo fashion chain, were among the first to switch. Now they are being joined by old-economy companies such as Honda, a carmaker, and Bridgestone, a tyremaker.

“There are some obvious reasons why multinational companies want a lingua franca. Adopting English makes it easier to recruit global stars (including board members), reach global markets, assemble global production teams and integrate foreign acquisitions. There are less obvious reasons, too. Rakuten’s boss, Hiroshi Mikitani, argues that English promotes free thinking because it is free from the status distinctions which characterise Japanese and other Asian languages.”

Filipino incorporates that status distinction, which means you don’t get the honest, open argument toward the best solutions as the thinking of the boss dominates too much. A major disadvantage in a presidential system, incidentally.

“Businesses worldwide are facing up to the reality that English is the language on which the sun never sets.” As any of the call center operators can tell you.

The claim that I hear too often—that the Philippines is an English-speaking country—is nonsense. Go into the countryside sometime, as I regularly do, and try to get understanding in English. It isn’t there. It’s one of the reasons for the high level of unemployment that so bothers the President. Companies dealing with the world need not only English-speaking people but also people who have English comprehension. It’s difficult to find in the Philippines.

So, the coequal language at an early age, not starting at Grade 4 as it is now. Otherwise, the young, open mind is missing the opportunity for easy learning.

Let’s stop discussing percentages mired in poverty, and talk about real, live, suffering people. According to the National Statistical Coordination Board, 21 percent of total households were poor in 2006. For 2012, the figure seems to have improved, declining to 19.7 percent. But if we use absolute numbers, the ranks of the impoverished families actually rose to 4.2 million in 2012 from 3.8 million in 2006. The poverty situation worsened, it didn’t get better.

That’s the real number. That’s the number that makes you sit up and say, “What the hell is going on?” These are people, not statistics.

Sam Miguel
03-07-2014, 08:38 AM
Creative education

By Michael L. Tan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:11 am | Friday, March 7th, 2014

We tend to associate creativity with artists, often with the assumption that one is born with it.

But now there are universities in Europe and the United States that are offering programs—from short seminars to degrees—to help people become creative. The creativity studies are often transdisciplinary in terms of both faculty and students, meaning engineers will get together with managers, natural scientists, artists, or social scientists.

The reason for this explosion in creativity studies is that we now live in an age where there is massive access to information; yet, that information is useless unless it can be transformed into knowledge, and applied.

The New York Times recently featured a survey of various American universities offering such studies. The article is titled “Learning to Think Outside the Box,” which is what creativity is all about.

Filipinos have generally recognized the need for this creativity. We complain about people who are “de kahon,” literally “of the box,” sticking to old procedures and rules, and therefore unable to come up with solutions to problems that aren’t in the textbooks or manuals, or that aren’t tied to fancy gadgets and technologies.

Let me elaborate on this creativity by using examples cited in the New York Times article. One instructor of a freshman course at Penn State, Jack Matson, has students trying to build the tallest structure possible with 20 popsicle sticks. The secret is to destroy the sticks and reimagine uses. He doesn’t tell the students, of course, but after they do pick up, he explains that creativity can mean breaking cultural norms.

Which can be a problem in cultures like our own, where we emphasize conformity and blind obedience. Students who are creative may sometimes end up being labeled or scolded as pasaway (defiant).

The result is a massive disconnect between our educational institutions and the world outside the academe. The universities are still generally conservative, tending to stick to old content-oriented curricula, meaning a series of prescribed lessons that must be included.


In 1951 an educator named Benjamin Bloom came up with a list of verbs that could be used to describe learning objectives, which are supposed to be part of lesson plans and course syllabi. As an educator, I’ve had endless battles with administrators who insist that our learning objectives be confined to Bloom’s verbs like “explain” or “define,” meaning that at the end of a course, students are expected to regurgitate what was taught to them.

Bloom’s verbs did provide for critical thinking and what is called higher order thinking, “synthesize” and “evaluate” being the primary ones. But I worry that it is not necessarily going to mean critical thinking, the emphasis still on regurgitation-—a repetition of what the teacher said-—as synthesis.

I was elated to read in the New York Times article that over the last 20 years, “creating” has become the most widely used Bloom’s verb, replacing “evaluation.”

I do hear “thinking out of the box” more often now in university meetings, but I’m not quite sure how committed educators are to allowing students to be creative. In fact, I suspect that the more creative among our students actually drop out of school because they’re bored, or have been labeled as pasaway. They go off and become inventors and entrepreneurs and can be quite successful, but I can’t help but think that they would be even more successful, and contribute more to the Philippines, if they had been nurtured in educational institutions that appreciated creativity.

We associate creativity with eccentric genius—people working alone—and forget that creativity blooms with greater vigor and energy when it involves people working together, as you would have in universities. Many of the problems we face today need diversity in thinking, from people with different academic backgrounds, as well as different personalities. The dean of architecture at the University of the Philippines Diliman, Mary Ann Espina, told me the other day how she tries to get her students to work with their counterparts from engineering, which can lead to a clashing of ideas but, eventually, finding convergence. She’s also hopeful about more engineers and architects ending up as happy (and, I presume, creative) couples.


For the Philippines, creativity in our academic environments will spell important differences in the way the country develops. Our two most important income-generating sectors—-overseas work and outsourcing (for example, call center agents)—mainly employ what the New York Times calls “drones,” people who can mechanically follow instructions. Not surprisingly, the salaries here are low. The higher-paying jobs, as well as being able to succeed as an independent entrepreneur, requires creativity. What we often see these days, in business, is everyone copying each other for the latest fads.

Dr. Cynthia Bautista of the Commission on Higher Education told me that industry people are now less concerned about technical skills than problem-solving skills, leadership and creativity.

Sadly, the prospects for stronger creativity training in our schools are quite dim. In both private and public schools, we have teachers who are required to teach too many subjects to classes that have too many students. Creativity needs mentoring, and imagination. You can’t expect that from overworked faculty.

Creativity is also nurtured at home, and when you have parents who have to worry about hand-to-mouth existence, traveling two or three hours a day between work and their homes, you can’t expect them to have any more energy to nurture creativity with their children.

But even the most exhausted teachers and parents (and chancellors) should learn new verbs to use when we think of learning objectives. Creativity is learning to ask the right questions, so when we try to impart creativity, we should also learn alternative ways of asking. Instead of a more normative asking, “How do you do this…” (Paanong ginagawa…), we can rephrase and challenge: “How would you do this…” or “Do you think you can do this…” (Paano mo gagawin…). The younger the children, the more imaginative they are. It is sad that as they grow older, society imposes, and reins in the creativity.

When I first started teaching I would get into trouble with administrators horrified that I was using “to explore” in my learning objectives. It wasn’t among Bloom’s verbs, they’d point out, and it couldn’t be measured. I would take out the verb when proposing a new course, using the more conservative verbs like “to define.” But once the course was approved, “explore” went right back into my syllabi and explore my students would, with a vengeance.

Sometimes, being pasaway can be a virtue.

Sam Miguel
03-07-2014, 09:05 AM
Teaching literature and K-to-12

By Cyril Belvis

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:30 am | Thursday, March 6th, 2014

I had read in a slim philosophy textbook that the love of wisdom doesn’t bake bread. A year later I was an English major in a local college. Because a regular curriculum for a four-year program includes 15-18 units of English and literature courses, English teachers scarcely find themselves out of job even during lean semesters. Fast forward to 2013, the signing of Republic Act No. 10533 (more popularly known as the K-to-12 Act). It appears that philosophy’s home truth has spread to English in a modified morph: English can’t bake enough bread. Because language and literature won’t be taught as general courses in college by 2016, teachers affiliated with colleges without elementary and high schools risk being displaced.

Last Feb. 15, Ateneo de Manila University hosted a national conference-workshop on “Literature, Region, and the World in K-12” attended by teachers from elementary to college levels. The large gathering confirmed the concern of many from the English Department about the trajectory of the discipline by 2016. The conference statement attempted to allay worry by “helping the teacher cope with the new curriculum from Grades 9 to 12.”

More than a question of job security, RA 10533 compels English instructors to rethink literature as a discipline. What is its role amidst a corporatist attitude toward education which insists on measurable economic output? In the opening remarks, Ma. Luisa Torres Reyes (editor in chief of Kritika Kultura) bravely suggested a function of literature as critique, an inviolate space to “speak a new language in a possible world.” This means that even if literature may experience intermittent cooptation in a globalized economy, it retains a claim as the harbinger of questions that blitz hegemony with fault lines opening alternative perspectives.

For instance, Judy Celine Ick (University of the Philippines Diliman) shared her surprise that a nationalist hub such as UP offers a course on Shakespeare but doesn’t have one for another Filipino hero aside from Rizal. Where does this universal claim from a colonialist body of texts emanate? She attributed this universality not from a sole claim for the Bard’s genius, or perennial lessons from his plays. Shakespeare’s place in a postcolonial curriculum comes from the textual pliability of his dramas. British literary critic Terence Hawkes summed it up wittily: “Shakespeare doesn’t mean: we mean by Shakespeare.”

Nevertheless, E. San Juan pointed out the dialectical relationship between our teaching profession and the students. Paradoxically, teachers aim to transform students into independent thinkers, but the learning process seems to pull the students toward a “banking” approach to education. They interpret the relationship as an accumulation of facts repeated to the teachers’ willing ears. As a result, critical thinking arises within the constricted limits imposed by hegemony. In other words, I can only be transgressive within the threshold of tolerance allowed by liberalism. Such irony is reenacted at a macrolevel between higher education institutions and the industry demanding graduates suited to think like “organization men.”

To salvage literature from its “uselessness,” one time-honored approach integrates it to language teaching. Literary texts are used as either jumping boards to teach language skills or as models for writing. Hence, literature is reduced to a rhetorical purpose. This practice becomes an excuse to justify the practical application of literature. However, the solution demotes literature to ancillary status because it pushes the discipline on the defensive, to be under surveillance. For example, how do I teach this as a model sentence: “riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodious vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.” I quoted the beginning of James Joyce’s “Finnegans Wake,” which definitely won’t pass as teachable material for correct sentence structure.

From such limited supplemental function, much of literature must be jettisoned from our lesson plans. The overrated emphasis on grammar diminishes and-even-distorts the deconstructive possibility of literature to explore the fissures of language. Fantasizing a static language free from the parody of its speakers, stern guardianship of conformism spills over other aspects of linguistic performatives such as orthography and pronunciation. A few weeks ago, “Showtime,” a noontime program of ABS-CBN, was compelled to explain the mispronunciation of “confirmed” after it received tweets correcting the hosts. Of course, these netizens were smart to point this out. Yet within the program’s campy context, “I Am Pogay” allows for an unduly long “e” sound reminiscent of a joke on spotting who’s gay through the shibboleth “Kamuning.” It appears we’ve witnessed a lapse that provoked the purists (pronounce: furists).

In conclusion, literature as a distinct discipline tasks itself to speak a new language that may interrogate convention. Indeed, the results of teaching literature may be more difficult to measure than the sciences. Yet, to gauge its output through econometric standards is like judging a mango seed’s growth against a mongo seed’s germination. By teaching literature as critique, we fulfill a need beyond employment—the need toward self-actualization.

Cyril Belvis is assistant professor of literature at De La Salle Araneta University, Malabon City. He received a master’s degree from the Philippine Normal University.

03-23-2014, 07:46 AM
Intervention needed

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:37 am | Sunday, March 23rd, 2014

The pot of gold at the end of the basic-education rainbow is the high school diploma. Most of our high school seniors will be receiving theirs by the end of March. For the graduating students of “Yolanda”-hit towns, it will be a wait of another two weeks.

It is a short delay considering the devastation wrought in November by the deadliest typhoon to visit the country to date. Almost 18,000 classrooms were destroyed, displacing more than a million K to 12 students.

At the persistence of Education Secretary Br. Armin Luistro, schools reopened within weeks as soon as makeshift classrooms became available. Not surprisingly, attendance was low. It was, however, a first step toward something brighter, and by January the students had returned to the regular rhythm of learning. But by then they were several weeks behind the school calendar, and playing catchup was not easy amid the rubble and confusion of the typhoon’s aftermath.

So how did it happen that, after missing classes for at least two months, only two weeks will separate the young Yolanda survivors from graduating students in the rest of the country?

According to Luistro, some schools in the devastated towns held Saturday classes and others added an hour to the school day to make up for lost time. Teachers in schools that could hold only half-day sessions because of classroom shortage sent their students home with self-learning modules.

The extended day, week and year interventions were actually done for all students who returned to schools in the devastated areas and not just for graduating students, in order to comply with the Department of Education rule that students should attend at least 180 school days, albeit in a tent or patched-up structure.

There will be no mass promotion even in the disaster-hit school districts, according to the DepEd. So it set a realistic requirement for promotion: mastery of major competencies—language, math, science, civics—to be assessed through the final examinations.

There may be nothing harmful in promoting all students to the next level, especially in the Yolanda-stricken areas, as long as promotion comes with intervention to make sure that their education is up to par.

For one thing, retaining kids is costly. If public schools hold back students who have not met grade-level criteria for all kinds of reasons, even those caused by a calamity, there will be less room for new enrollees. For another, in a city reeling from the devastation to property and livelihood like Tacloban, retaining older students means delaying their entry into the labor market. Learners also have a hard time living down the stigma of repeating a grade. Studies show that retention is a powerful predictor of a student dropping out of high school.

The challenge to the DepEd then is to move students on with their peers but find and fund ways to help the struggling ones improve their skills to grade level. Unfortunately, both our private and public schools are not big on interventions. They think education is simple. Students come to class, the teacher teaches, students either pass or fail the tests, and it’s goodbye, Mr. Chips.

One option for schools is to offer a summer program for children who have missed crucial grade-level lessons because of the catastrophe, before they move on to the next level.

Just like in some US cities, schools can create Saturday math academies that focus on the given subject, or they can arrange for a second period of math, science or any other subject that needs a double dose every day. Schools should also consider a language immersion program for slow readers.

Another intervention sorely lacking in public schools is a tutorial program held daily under classmates, older students or adult tutors. Improved social skills are a bonus from such sessions.

After-school mentoring programs can be provided by community and church groups for enrichment activities or values conducive to school success. Students living in refugee centers and tent cities can likewise benefit from continuing education from mentors at these sites.

The response of the private sector to calls by the DepEd to help rebuild schools post-Yolanda has been tremendous. The need for infrastructure is extensive and everything must be fast-tracked before the next school year starts. But at the same time, we must design intervention and sustain support for the students left struggling by Yolanda. Otherwise, they will end up academically limping in and out of nice classrooms.

03-26-2014, 11:31 AM
Keeping kids in school

By Cielito F. Habito

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:29 am | Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

I recently caught a TV journalist’s encounter with three boys hauling farm produce as she chanced upon them on a mountain trail. She asked them if they go to school at all, and the boys answered yes. But they had been absent for two days to earn some money for their family. I encountered a similar case first-hand a few years ago when my research team chanced upon a little girl selling delicacies at the passenger dock in Masbate as we awaited the ferry to Pilar, Sorsogon. We were on a field study on rural poverty, and decided to interview our young subject. Asked if she goes to school, she said yes. But she had to work on that particular day, she explained, as the family direly needed money. This scenario is played out every day all over the country.

In a remote village in South Cotabato, I once interviewed a mother on how a new bridge across a nearby river benefited her community. To her, what was most important was that her children could now go to school without having to wade and swim across the river daily. In the past, when the weather was bad and the river was treacherous, the children would have to forego attending school altogether.

On a visit to the island barangay (village) of Malassa in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi, former barangay captain Dastara Bakki proudly showed us a small schoolhouse he had built out of meager barangay funds. But he sadly admitted that the structure had been idle and rotting away. Alas, the Department of Education simply could not find a trained schoolteacher who would agree to work in their far-flung barangay. There was a volunteer parent from the community who would occasionally gather the children for informal “classes” when she felt like it. But for the children to get regular schooling, they would have to pay for a 30-minute boat ride to Bongao town proper. Naturally, hardly anyone did.

Much closer to home, in Barangay Bagong Silang on the slopes of Mt. Makiling in my hometown of Los Baños, Laguna, children basically have two options to go to school. They could walk two hours down the mountain to the Lopez Elementary School just outside the University of the Philippines campus. Or they could spend about the same time walking up a trail further up the mountain and then down again to a school in the neighboring town of Bay. Either way takes a tremendous physical toll on the children. Many simply forego schooling altogether.

Some readers would probably know of even more extreme circumstances. In a country that is both archipelagic and mountainous while afflicted with prevalent and persistent poverty, attending school is not something to be taken for granted by too many school-aged Filipino children. Government has constantly targeted having a school in all 42,000-plus barangays around the country. But as the anecdotes above show, getting all Filipino children in school will take much more than building a schoolhouse in every village, a goal that has proven elusive through the years for one reason or another. It takes understanding various other impediments that keep kids out of school.

The above stories point to three types of such impediments (among others, I’m sure). An obvious one is the economic impediment: parents see sending their children to school as too costly, both because there are costs they must incur, and because they have to forego income their children’s work could possibly contribute. Free public school tuition up to high school helps address the former, even as there are other real costs to attending school beyond tuition itself. Conditional cash transfers (CCT) aim to address the latter issue, making up for income the children could have contributed so that parents will keep them in school. Does it work? Assessments of the CCT both here and abroad indicate so.

Another impediment is the physical accessibility of schools. Bridges certainly help where needed. Where the issue is physical distance or difficult topography, government should consider providing free transport assistance. If providing school bus service to all public school children who need it is routine in other countries, we should be able to provide school boats, school kariton or school habal-habal where it’s unrealistic to bring schools to far-flung barangays. (One organization has been providing “yellow boats” where bodies of water keep children from attending school.) Government would do well to subsidize such transport, creating additional community livelihoods (with accompanying multiplier effects) as it does.

Where the problem is attracting qualified teachers to work in a far-flung area (as in Tawi-Tawi’s Barangay Malassa), appropriate “carrots” to lure them there are in order. I’ve heard of a nongovernment initiative where good homes or living quarters were provided in a place where no teacher would otherwise wish to be assigned. The DepEd would do well to adopt this approach for such places. It could also come up with a mechanism for capacitating qualified local parents, such as that Malassa parent volunteer, to be hired as authorized learning facilitators or para-teachers where having an accredited teacher is not possible. For years, my wife has been working intimately with a model where families in the community run the school, and the community is in fact the school. She swears that it not only keeps children in school where they otherwise might not be; it also extends the life learning experience to the rest of the children’s families, and indeed their community as a whole.

It seems to me that with a little more creativity, imagination and out-of-the box thinking, we should be able to keep all of our kids in school.

03-29-2014, 03:23 PM
Going the distance

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:24 am | Saturday, March 29th, 2014

NOWHERE DOES the song refrain “climb every mountain, ford every stream … till you find your dream” apply more literally, if a bit grimly, than to Filipino school-age children in the far-flung barangays.

As Inquirer columnist Cielito F. Habito wrote in “Keeping kids in school” (3/25/14), admirable are the grit and determination of kids who swim raging rivers in South Cotabato, brave treacherous terrain and mountains in Bay, Laguna, or trek for hours under blazing sun or soaking rain, to get to and from school. A recent TV news clip showed more schoolchildren making like trapeze artists on a rope strung between cliffs just to get to class.

The risks that these youngsters take to get to school may help explain the Philippines’ 97.5-percent literacy rate, an indication of how education—as shown by that framed diploma in most Filipino homes—remains a source of pride and status.

Ironically, the same odds that bedevil these schoolchildren can help explain the sizeable dropout rates in our school system, proof that education, while an aching desire, is still a luxury for many Filipinos.

In his 2012 State of Basic Education report, Education Secretary Armin Luistro described the dropout situation as a serious problem involving six percent of total elementary enrollment in the public school system and nearly eight percent in public high schools.

As Habito wrote, some schoolchildren are forced to drop out because of the need to supplement their parents’ meager income. On a school day, they may be hauling wood or harvesting produce instead of hitting the books. And while tuition is free in public schools until the high school level, school-related costs, like money for transport, put education out of the reach of many. The physical toll wrought by those long and dangerous treks also forces some kids to give up school altogether.

The problem then is not just the lack of classrooms or teachers (as education officials bemoan at the start of each schoolyear) but their very absence in remote areas. And even when resourceful barangay officials manage to scrape up funds to build a simple school building, the structure withers away unused, as very few teachers willingly take up such a hardship post.

Habito cited certain private initiatives, such as volunteer parents who gather school-age children for occasional informal classes. But more sustained efforts from the public and private sectors are urgently needed to keep the kids in school.

The government’s Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) can help, as it makes up for supplementary income lost when children who are unpaid family workers become full-time students. According to Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, an expanded CCT program can benefit 10.2 million high school students.

What about subsidized transport, probably from barangay funds, to ferry kids to and from school in remote areas? Providing teachers with concrete incentives through a program similar to the “Doctors to the Barrios” may help, too. Why not start with decent pay, adequate housing and further training that can advance their career?

Private firms and foundations may want to look as well into providing teacher-training and allowances to volunteer parents to encourage them to hold informal classes more regularly and competently. To supplement that, the Department of Education can administer an equivalency exam for the children at the end of every school year, to give structure and recognition to such a program.

The DepEd can also promote alternative schemes to fill the needs of students in remote barangays. Aside from nationwide equivalency exams for high school for students forced to drop out, it can promote more aggressively its Open High School program that allows working students to go to school only once a week—a viable option similar to distance education or correspondence courses.

And, given the rapid strides in technology, the giant telcos may help out as well. With cell phones being ubiquitous even in remote areas and becoming the default provider of services including money remittances, news, entertainment, games, street directions and communications in lieu of postal carriers, an app or program may be developed to make daily lessons accessible to students nationwide. It’s an idea worth exploring given the Filipinos’ vaunted tech skills and the largely unused GAD (Gender and Development) component in local governments’ budget. Plus, consider the goodwill and CSR brownie points that telcos stand to gain.

Let’s go the distance. If many kids regularly do a tightrope act to get to school, how can their elders do less?

Sam Miguel
07-17-2014, 10:31 AM
Administrators panicking?


By Isagani Cruz (The Philippine Star) |

Updated July 17, 2014 - 12:00am

As president of a small college, I have nightmares about 2016.

In that year, my college will not have first-year students, because all Grade 10 students will be going to Grade 11.

The next year, 2017, we will still not have first-year students, because the Grade 11 students will be going to Grade 12. We will also not have second-year students, because we had no first-year students the year before.

The next year, 2018, we will finally get first-year students, but we will still not have second-year and even third-year students.

The next year, 2019, we will still not have third-year students.

Since my college uses a trimestral calendar, we really do not have fourth-year students, except for those finishing their final projects. My colleagues that run four-year colleges, however, will not have fourth-year students in 2019.

My college depends completely on tuition. Since we are not a high-end college with soaring tuition rates, my nightmares feature spreadsheets with no income, continuing staff and maintenance costs, and deadly deficits.

Fortunately, having thought about the problem as early as 2010, when Senior High School was first proposed as a solution to the bigger problem of the country’s failure to keep up with the rest of the world, I did not succumb to the denial mode that have made some administrators go recently into a panic mode.

Why do I say that some of my fellow administrators are panicking?

Because there are a few schools that have started to let go of their college faculty.

Since I always think long-term (after all, I always say that the first graduates of the full K to 12 curriculum will finish only in 2025, or 13 years after the start of the program in schoolyear 2011-2012), I am not as worried about 2016 as these colleagues of mine.

In the first place, the new General Education Curriculum kicks off only in 2018, after the two-year gap in freshmen enrolment. There will be a new President in 2016, and therefore a new Secretary of Education. We all know what happens when there is a new President and a new Secretary of Education.

Of course, there are certain things that will not change. Kindergarten and Senior High School will remain, because they are mandated by RA 10157 and RA 10533, and laws are not changed overnight.

Because it is in these two laws, the use of the Mother Tongue will not be stopped. Whether we agree with the addition of two (actually three) years or the use of the Mother Tongue, we cannot do anything about them and neither can the new President nor the new Secretary of Education.

What is not law, however, is easily changed. For example, when President Arroyo came into power, she changed the curriculum into what we now know as the Basic Education Curriculum (BEC). When President Aquino came into power, he instituted the K to 12 curriculum. While history does not always repeat itself, we can almost say for certain that the new President will change the curriculum.

What? Change the curriculum? Have I just added to my nightmares?

Not really. If (I should say “when”) there will be changes, they will not change the basic structure of the curriculum. The curriculum will still be “learner-centered, inclusive, developmentally appropriate, relevant, responsive, research-based, culture-sensitive, contextualized, global, constructivist, inquiry-based, reflective, collaborative, integrative, spiraled, and flexible” because these adjectives are all in RA 10533.

Changes might (will!) happen in the details, and that means learning areas, skills, outcomes, competencies, domains, assessment, scheduling, and so on. These details, unfortunately, are tightly related to the College Readiness Standards (CRS) and the new General Education Curriculum (GEC) of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). If the basic education curriculum is changed, the CRS and the GEC will also have to change.

That is one reason I have not panicked and have not fired any or all of my General Education teachers. What would happen if I let them go now and, in 2018, I find myself needing them again? For sure, they will not want to return to a college that kicked them out.

I handpicked my GE teachers, and I believe that they are among the best GE teachers I can get, given the constraints of my budget. To let them go this early in the game and then realize that I need them later would be the height of carelessness (not to mention inhumanity to the teachers).

My nightmares, however, revolve around having to pay my GE teachers while not having students around paying tuition.

Like most nightmares, this one is frightening only when I am asleep. When I am awake and not in denial, I can think of various solutions. And yes, there are solutions.

Sam Miguel
08-05-2014, 02:06 PM
Plato and the Promise of College

AUG. 4, 2014

Frank Bruni

Kimberly Lantigua, 17, is an avid reader, but of a somewhat unusual oeuvre. Not long ago she worked her way through novels that spawned movies starring Meryl Streep, one of her favorite actresses. “The Devil Wears Prada” was a breeze. “Sophie’s Choice” is Kimberly’s unsummited Everest.

But for three weeks in July, she kept to a literary diet that focused on Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Hobbes and John Locke as she sat for several hours daily in a seminar at Columbia University titled “Freedom and Citizenship in Ancient, Modern and Contemporary Thought.”

On the morning when I dropped by, she and 14 other high school students between their junior and senior years were listening to their professor, Roosevelt Montás, discuss Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s treatise on “the social contract” and the balance of rights between an individual and a community.

Although the summer sun was shining like a cruel taunt outside the windows, the kids paid close attention, nodding and chiming in. There was no stealthy texting on smartphones. No fidgeting that I could see.

At a time when a lot of the talk about diminished social mobility in America is just that — talk, lip service, a wringing of hands rather than a springing into action — this seminar represents a bold exception, worthy of applause and emulation.

Most of the teenagers in the classroom with Kimberly — and most of another 15 in a separate section of the seminar — are minorities who were referred from the Double Discovery Center, a program in Upper Manhattan that couples undergraduate mentors from Columbia with New York City kids who hope to become the first in their families with college degrees.

This was the seminar’s sixth consecutive summer and the first in which the number of students rose to 30 from 15. The course intends to get them ready for higher education, and that isn’t unusual in and of itself. Many summer enrichment programs attempt as much.

But the distinction of this one and the reason it should be replicated is that it doesn’t focus on narrow disciplines, discrete skills, standardized tests. It doesn’t reduce learning to metrics or cast college as a bridge to a predetermined career.

It assumes that these kids, like any others, are hungry for big ideas. And it wagers that tugging them into sophisticated discussions will give them a fluency and confidence that could be the difference between merely getting to college and navigating it successfully, all the way to completion, which for poor kids is often the trickiest part of all.

Montás also wants for these kids what he wants for every college student (and what all of us should want for them as well). If the seminar is successful, he told me, they wind up seeing their place on a continuum that began millenniums ago, and they understand “their fundamental stake in our political debate.”

“They read the news differently,” he said. “They see themselves as political agents, able to participate.”

So as he toggled over the span of the seminar from the French Revolution to Obamacare, he wasn’t just connecting dots for them. He was rooting them in our noble, troubled democracy, and trying to turn them into enlightened caretakers of it.

For the course’s duration, thanks to funding from the Teagle Foundation and the Jack Miller Center, the kids live and eat free at Columbia. For Kimberly, who typically shares a two-bedroom apartment with her mother and five siblings, that was part of the lure. Another student, Mysterie Sylla, 17, told me that her time on campus was a reprieve from stints in foster care.

For every five kids in the seminar, there’s one teaching assistant, a Columbia undergraduate who will maintain contact with them over the next year and guide them through the college-application process. What a great model: Current college students who are blessed enough to be in the Ivy League extend a hand to would-be college students whose paths haven’t been easy.

The kids who completed Montás’s seminar in the summer of 2013 are bound this fall for a range of schools including Syracuse, Brandeis and, in three cases, Columbia itself.

Montás is the director of Columbia’s celebrated Core Curriculum, which requires freshmen and sophomores to dive into the Western canon. His summer seminar asks kids like Kimberly, who attends high school at the Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics, to splash around in it.

She was intimidated only briefly by the texts. “Once Professor Montás walks you through them, they’re approachable,” she told me.

The proof was in her participation. I heard her pipe up repeatedly: about the meaning of liberty, about necessary checks on what she called our “innate thirst for total power.” Her voice was clear and strong.

I bet she wrestles Sophie to the ground soon enough. And I think that college could carry her far.

Sam Miguel
08-18-2014, 01:16 PM
A language war in the time of DAP

By Isabel Pefianco Martin, Resty M. Cena, Ricardo Ma. Nolasco |

Philippine Daily Inquirer 3:28 am |

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Authors are not persuaded by the rationale in removing the Filipino courses in college, and they join the call for its immediate reinstatement in the general curriculum.

(First of three parts)

MANILA, Philippines–Requiring Filipino as a subject and as a language of instruction in college will be good for Philippine education. For this to happen, the reasons given by the pro-Filipino side in this controversy will have to be robust and compelling.

Proponents for Filipino as a language of instruction anchor their stand on two arguments. The first is a familiar one: Filipino has been recognized under the 1987 Constitution as the national and official language for education and communication.

The second argument is that teaching Filipino and using it as a language of instruction, especially in higher education, will contribute to its intellectualization.

But here comes the rub. The constitutional provision on Filipino as medium of official communication and instruction is not without conditions. These conditions are contained in the following sections of the nation’s Charter:

(1) “Subject to provisions of law and as the Congress may deem appropriate, the government shall take steps to initiate and sustain the use of Filipino as a medium of official communication and as language of instruction in the educational system.”

(2) “For purposes of communication and instruction, the official languages of the Philippines are Filipino and, until otherwise provided by law, English.”

(3) “The regional languages are the auxiliary official languages in the regions and shall serve as auxiliary media of instruction therein.”
Clearly, Filipino is only one of the country’s official languages. At the grassroots, the local language joins Filipino and English as an official medium in governance and in education.

3 laws

In fact, Congress recently passed three laws that redivided the instructional space among the learner’s first language (L1), English and Filipino. Enacted in 2012 was the Kindergarten Education Act followed in 2013 by the Early Years Act and the Enhanced Basic Education Act.

Now enshrined in law is the country’s language-in-education policy: L1-based multilingual education. Students at the elementary grades will be taught in their first language, but will take up Filipino and English as second language (L2) subjects.

The Department of Education will determine when the shift from L1 to L2 as primary and auxiliary language of instruction should be made, provided the shift is gradual and not abrupt.

To us, the key criterion is the student’s competence to receive academic instruction in their L2s alongside their L1.

The ability to transfer L1 concepts to the L2s and vice-versa ensures that the L2s add to the learner’s L1 competence and do not replace nor subtract it.

That said, a language policy for college education must adhere to the same principle of additive education. Instruction should be delivered in a language or languages understood by the learners.


The pervasive socio-linguistic diversity throughout the country is another factor to consider in choosing the appropriate language of instruction.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with using L1 or Filipino for some subjects, English for others, and even mixed varieties for the remainder, provided real learning is taking place and the course objectives are being met.

But since there is no law or legislation on the language of instruction at the college level, it is best to leave this issue for individual institutions of higher learning to decide.

The intellectualization of the national language is a noble objective, but one that is clearly secondary to effective student learning.

Besides, the new language-in-education policy already provides us with enough space to develop this predominantly oral language into an academic producer and carrier of knowledge in the higher domains of learning.

Decongesting curriculum

The teaching of Filipino subjects in college is a different matter. Before, there were nine units of Filipino that formed part of general education until technical experts banished them to Grades 11 and 12.

This runs counter to the very idea behind adding two years to basic education, namely “to decongest the curriculum.”

A study in 2011 compared the educational systems in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and the Philippines. Curricular time per subject was found to be longest in the country with the shortest cycle—the Philippines.

If our students were cramming in 10 years what students in other countries were learning in 12 years, why congest the program even more?

No guarantee

In the first place, expanding basic education by two years is no guarantee to quality instruction. A literacy survey in 2008, for instance, reported that one out of every five elementary graduates was functionally illiterate.

A second study in 2010 by Dr. Abraham Felipe and Dr. Carolina Porio concluded that our short education cycle could not be blamed for the low science and math scores of Filipino students.

Why? According to their research, there were countries with short cycles having high scores and countries with long cycles having low scores.

In sum, we are not persuaded by the rationale in removing the Filipino courses in college, and we join the call for its immediate reinstatement in the general curriculum.

In case these courses do not qualify under the new definition of general education, then the correct procedure is to revise the courses, and not to remove them.

Editor’s Note: Dr. Ricardo Ma. Nolasco (rnolascoupdiliman@gmail.com), Dr. Resty M. Cena (restycena@gmail.com) and Dr. Isabel Pefianco Martin (mmartin@ateneo.edu) are practicing Filipino linguists and educators.

Sam Miguel
08-29-2014, 09:55 AM
Behind Filipino (2)

By Michael L. Tan |

Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:07 am |

Friday, August 29th, 2014

Last Wednesday I began to write about how we came to have Filipino, a national language, drawing on a booklet written by Virgilio Almario, chair of the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino, with additional research.

We saw how the moves to have a local language as the national language started in the 1930s, spurred by strong nationalist and pro-independence politicians. Contrary to popular myths, the Surian ng Wikang Pambansa that chose Tagalog as a national language was not dominated by Tagalogs.

After World War II and our regaining of our independence on July 4, 1946, the promotion of a national language continued. A few months before independence, President Sergio Osmeña proclaimed a National Language Week from March 27 to April 2, which President Ramon Magsaysay later modified slightly so that April 2, the birthday of Tagalog writer Francisco Balagtas, would fall in the middle of the National Language Week.

Magsaysay later issued another proclamation moving this celebration to August, noting that the original National Language Week was taking place outside of the academic school year. This new National Language Week included Aug. 19, the birthday of Quezon.

It was President Fidel Ramos who later dedicated the entire month of August to the national language, a commemoration which is now translated, in many schools, into a “Filipiniana” month for cultural presentations.

Tagalog to Pilipino to Filipino

All through the years, and even today, the national language was referred to as “Tagalog.” In 1959, Education Secretary Jose Romero ordered the use of “Pilipino” as the proper name for this national language.

The 1960s was a contentious decade for the national language. On one hand, the rising tide of nationalism produced “purists” advocating a national language with minimal foreign influences. The purists coined new words such as “salumpuwit” for a chair, and the use of the suffixes “Anak” and “Apo” for names, instead of “Junior” and “III.”

This “purist” tide produced two responses. One was a campaign against Tagalog as the national language by non-Tagalogs, who used the purists to complain that a difficult Tagalog was being imposed on the nation.

The other reaction was a “Modernizing the Language Approach Movement” or Molam, headed by Congressman Geruncio Lacuesta, attempting to promote a “Manila Lingua Franca” which integrated words from different Philippine, as well as international, languages. He published a magazine called Katha, using this Manila Lingua Franca. After Lacuesta died, the movement fizzled out.

The 1973 Constitution declared both English and Pilipino as official languages (with then President Ferdinand Marcos adding, in 1973, Spanish as another official language). The 1970s was marked by social ferment and martial law. The use of Filipino (or Pilipino) became a marker of nationalism, and sometimes, as an expression of antimartial law sentiments, but there was ambivalence here, with even the most radical students switching between Pilipino (for example, “Ibagsak ang Rehimeng EU-Marcos”) and English (“Expose and Oppose the US-Marcos Dictatorship”).

After Marcos fell, a new constitution was written, naming Filipino and English as the official languages. It also instructed the government to “take steps to initiate and sustain the use of Filipino as a medium of official communication and as language of instruction in the educational system.” In 1988, President Corazon Aquino issued Executive Order No. 335 ordering all government agencies to use Filipino in all forms of communication, in names of offices, buildings and signages.

The post-1987 national language policy was more pragmatic and inclusive. A new Filipino alpabeto was introduced, expanded from the 20-letter Tagalog-based abakada. The current alpabeto includes F, J, V and Z, which are actually present in several Philippine languages. In addition, it has the Spanish N, Q and X, which, together with F, J, V and Z, make it easier to borrow words from English and other international languages.

The 1987 Constitution also mentions “regional languages” as “auxiliary official languages in the regions and shall serve as auxiliary media of instruction therein.” But it took another 20 years before the Department of Education was to look into regional and auxiliary languages, with a Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE) system. The rationale of this system is that children learn more quickly in schools if a local mother tongue is used. This mother tongue is used up to Grade 3 to teach various subjects, including Filipino itself.
In this MTB-MLE system, 19 languages have been named as possible languages for instruction in schools. These include eight “major languages,” “major” being defined by the relatively large number of speakers (more than a million). These are Bikol, Ilokano, Hiligaynon, Pampanggo, Pangasinan, Sebwano, Tagalog and Waray. Another three languages spoken by Muslim Filipinos are also included as “major” languages: Maranaw, Tausug and Magindanaw.

An additional eight languages are also recognized for the mother tongue-based program: Ibanag, Ivatan, Zambal, Chabacano, Akeanon, Yakan, Kiniray-a and Surigaonon.

The 19 languages may seem like a confusing lot but we should remember there are more than 170 languages spoken in the Philippines. Note too the 19 mother languages do not include English, which is actually considered as a first language for many upper-class Filipino children. Thus in many private schools, students feel more comfortable in English and end up learning Filipino as a second language or, in non-Tagalog areas, even as a third language.

No doubt, we have made progress toward a national language. In 1939, speakers of the “wikang pambansa” numbered about four million Filipinos or 25 percent of the total population. By 1980, speakers of the national language totaled more than 12 million or 44 percent of the total population.

A 1989 survey conducted by Ateneo de Manila University found that 92 percent of Filipinos understood “Tagalog,” 83 percent could speak it, 88 percent could read it and 81 percent could write in that language.

Today debates continue on language policies with a vocal “English only” lobby. It didn’t help that President Gloria Arroyo ordered, in 2003, a return to English as a monolingual language of instruction. Fortunately, that has been replaced by the DepEd’s mother language system, a reflection of the way we continue to appreciate the need for a national language, while recognizing how linguistic diversity can be beneficial too.

* * *

Sam Miguel
10-20-2014, 08:48 AM
A parent’s R.O.I.

CTALK By Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) |

Updated October 20, 2014 - 12:00am

As I scan the “help ads” or posts for job openings, it is very common to read companies requiring that applicants must be a college graduate or of a specific 4-year course. What usually works me up is when the job is merely to be a server, barista, or some other job the required skills for which could be acquired after a 6-month training or internship and not necessarily a college degree.

If you want me to emit lava type annoyance, show me ads that require young graduates but “with experience.” Even my 14-year old daughter Hannah throws a fit when she hears that because how are people suppose to gain experience in a country where even the TV stations and hospitals charge money to enroll graduating students in their internship programs and use them as goffers or virtual slaves?

According to the Department of Education, the K to 12 program will help solve part of the problem by giving students more practical skills that would help increase employability especially for those who can’t afford college. Maybe! But when the people working the “Personnel department” are not even analytic enough or empowered or competent to do correct job matching, K to 12 won’t make a difference. Until they can show their pro-active and enlightened skills, these people have no right to the title “Human Resource Department” because they don’t have the proper appreciation of Human Resource and skill sets. What we need is new legislation that deals with the mismatch or the “over requirement” imposed by employers and their undervalued-industry imposed salary scales. If they want college degrees, they must be willing to pay the value for such just like parents did.

The Department of Labor and Employment has reportedly made many advances to improve the state of Labor and Employment in the country. Perhaps it would merit the attention and action of DOLE officials to study the matter of correct job matching with skills, education and compensation and endorse whatever legislative action is required to Congress.

On the other hand members of the Senate and Congress should start asking employers this question: When you demand or require college degrees or experience, do you pay salaries that are commensurate to the cost and efforts for attaining a college degree or are you simply doing so because you are such lazy lumps that you don’t evaluate the job requirement relative to the required training or educational level?

It is one thing to pay minimum wages to unskilled labor or individuals with no specific skill set but why are companies getting away with paying minimum or below minimum wages to young graduates with college degrees? For example, I have been told that my nephew who graduated from the University of the Philippines had been offered a starting job on the night shift at the Social Security System for something like P8,000. On the other hand, Walter our former houseboy who has moved on to becoming a security guard earns P10,000.

I suppose it would be safe to say that many Senators are too busy busting the Binay family to be bothered with real life concerns of parents and their children. It is a real life concern for parents that their children get an R.O.I or Return On Investment on their High School and College Diploma. It is a real concern for parents who sent their children to the best schools that the kids get fairly compensated even on their first job.

It is an injustice and an insult to our society that places so much value on education and a good college degree from a good school to find their sons and daughters dumped under the same category as Minimum Wage earners because they should not be. The minimum wage law was meant to protect those with the least skills or no skills from being exploited. It was not suppose to be the entry-level price for all employees. Because of this situation and this law, private companies and even government agencies such as the SSS have used the Minimum Wage law to exploit fresh graduates and college degree holders.

* * *

10-29-2014, 11:04 AM
Greek Letters at a Price


OCT. 28, 2014

Imagine finding a bill for $200 in your mailbox because your daughter was late to a couple of sorority events. Imagine, too, that those who snitched were her new best friends. This is one of the unwelcome surprises of sorority membership.

Depending on the generosity of the vice president of standards, a fine can be reversed with proof of a qualifying reason, such as a funeral, doctor’s appointment or medical emergency, so long as a doctor’s note is forthcoming. A paper due or a test the next day? No excuse. (Fraternities, by the way, rarely impose even nominal fines to enforce punctuality.)

Now imagine attending mandatory weekend retreats, throwing yourself into charitable work, making gifts for your sisters and, at tradition-thick schools like the University of Alabama and University of Missouri, investing 30 to 40 hours pomping — threading tissue paper through chicken wire to create elaborate homecoming decorations or parade floats that outdo rivals’.

During fall or winter rush, sororities court starry-eyed freshmen. They showcase their joyful conviviality with skits and serenades. They stress the benefits of joining, and brag about attracting the prettiest, smartest or most athletic. At many traditional sororities, however, not much energy is spent explaining what is expected, leaving many pledges unaware of the considerable time commitment and costs.

Do the math: Official charges include Panhellenic dues, chapter fees, administrative fees, nonresident house/parlor fees, a onetime pledging and initiation fee and contribution toward a house bond. Members must also buy a pin (consider the diamond-encrusted one) and a letter jersey. Without housing, basic costs for the first semester (the most expensive) average $1,570 at University of Georgia sororities, $1,130 at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and $1,580 at Syracuse University.

But such fees are only a portion of the real cost. Add in fines, philanthropy and the incidentals that are essential to participate in sorority life and the total spirals upward, especially when a closetful of designer party dresses is part of the mix.

“You think it is just a school club,” said Jessica Rodgers, a Georgia State junior and Alpha Xi Delta pledge in 2012. “I wasn’t expecting such a burden every month.” The first year, she said, she paid about $1,100 in basic fees and $100 to $200 a month over that on sorority-related incidentals. “For someone who pays for all their own expenses, it’s alarming,” she said. “I was 17 and not thinking about billing and the huge time commitment of joining. It was like signing up for a loan — they said the debt could go to a collections agency if you failed to pay.”

Georgia State, American University and Syracuse are among campuses that publish a range of fees covering all their chapters, but information on specific sororities is often hard to come by before the midst of rush.

Syracuse’s Alpha Phi chapter distributes a sheet with financials on the second day of recruitment and then promptly collects it, according to Cameron Boardman, Alpha Phi’s 2014 president. She wishes she could email financial information earlier so students could “have an open and frank conversation with their parents about it,” but she says she does not have approval from the campus Panhellenic Council to do so.

At the same time, she voices concern that members might be scared off by the cost (which she doesn’t want made public) without understanding the benefits and realizing that other Syracuse sororities that seem cheaper impose hefty fines.

Costs mushroom with incidentals, which neither sororities nor offices of Greek life enumerate.

Sisters spend a significant amount of time and money on one another. It’s a loving relationship, to be sure. Once Bigs choose one or more new members to mentor (Littles), they take them out regularly. They secretly decorate their Littles’ rooms, and bake and craft gifts to shower on them. Essential tools are a glue gun and Puffy Paint to adorn anything imaginable — boxes for sorority pins, tumblers, door hangers, T-shirts — with the sorority’s letters or mascot. Mod Podge mavens make decoupages with Lilly Pulitzer and Vera Bradley patterns, trimmed with official colors like straw, salmon pink, vieux green and Carolina blue.

With the pressure on, students troll Facebook and Pinterest for the hottest trends in sorority artwork.

Ms. Rodgers received a personalized picture frame, painted wooden Greek letters and a giant initial for her wall from her Big, who she estimates spent $200 to $300 on her. Her second year, the sorority standardized gifts to put an end to competitive spending.

Hannah Hembree, a recent University of Oklahoma graduate and an Alpha Chi Omega, says her spending exceeded $1,000 for gift baskets, coordinated pajamas and treating Littles to meals, movies, bowling, ice cream and coffee.

After a 2009 assessment at the College of William & Mary found that sisters were spending $500 per Little and deemed it excessive, the campus Panhellenic Council capped such expenditures at $250, though it relinquished enforcement to the individual sororities.

Syracuse’s Alpha Phi suggests a $100 cap on spending on Littles. “It is the culture of the school to really spoil them,” Ms. Boardman said. “You can’t stop girls who want to spend $500.” Alpha Phi has two basket days, when Littles discover treats from secret Bigs, and a reveal day, when they find out the identity of their Big.

To help with all this crafting, a cottage industry has sprung up, offering a dizzying array of custom items. Designergreek.com sells canvas totes with appliquéd sorority letters for $23.95; Etsy.com showcases a bejeweled paddle for $65. Avoid trips to Michael’s with Diygreek.com’s “supply sacks” for $24.99 containing paint, glue, scrapbook paper, wire, charms, ribbons, ceramic beads and stencils with a sorority’s symbols and colors.

Recruitment is particularly onerous. Some hopefuls attend an event a day during Rush Week or dedicate two full weekends to activities. Following rush, Gamma Phi Beta pledges must participate in an eight-week program with meetings at least three times a week, according to Krista Spanninger Davis, international president of the sorority, which has more than 130 chapters. Among the activities are lectures about sorority history and tradition. Yes, there’s a test at the end (open book).

10-29-2014, 11:05 AM
^ Continued

Nicole Davies, a former peer adviser at American University’s career center who rushed Alpha Chi Omega, observes that many students’ grades suffers as they pledge, with almost a full week of all-nighters. She had to work two jobs to pay her expenses — she had been “clueless” about the hundreds of dollars in extras — and found it too stressful. She dropped out.

Ms. Rodgers, too, left her sorority. As she was struggling to get everything done on her overcommitted schedule, she would miss class or pull an all-nighter, and she started to resent being made to feel guilty when she would try to get out of an event. When she left she had to return all letter items, including shirts, bags and a $130 pin, without reimbursement.

For her 2004 exposé, “Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities,” Alexandra Robbins interviewed hundreds of sorority members. “It is a massive time commitment, but they also want the girls to pare down their non-Greek activities,” she said recently. She estimates that the demands “take more time than an extra class.”

Even though the word “optional” is attached to social mixers and dances, many sisters fear being treated with disapproval or left out of emerging social circles if they aren’t present. Leah Jordan, a senior at Georgia State, says she does not know anyone at Alpha Omicron Pi, her former sorority, who skips those events. “That’s why you join.”

Ms. Jordan says she reached her breaking point at the beginning of sophomore year. She says it’s not usual for people to drop out and she got some grief for leaving, but she had no choice. She had skipped classes and watched her grades slip while prepping for sorority events and attending meetings, socials and fund-raisers, including a charity walk for autism, a football tournament and a puzzle-making contest.

With an assist from mandatory weekly study hall, members must maintain a minimum grade-point average or are placed on academic probation by the chapter.

Laura Wright, an associate professor at Western Carolina University and a Chi Omega at Appalachian State, remembers once trying to hide at the back of a meeting to study and being called out for not behaving “in a sisterly way.” She said: “I felt there was a strange line and I was not sure how to stay on the right side of it.”

Miss enough of those weekly meetings or seminal events and risk not only possible fines but exclusion from formal, the semester highlight. Meetings, which run one to two hours, often take place on Sunday nights, leaving members scrambling right before assignments come due, especially if they follow an overnight weekend retreat.

What to do?

Sorority veterans recommend students do research before joining, to get different perspectives. Ms. Davis of Gamma Phi Beta encourages pledge candidates to visit sororities’ social media pages and websites, and to ask the meatier questions. “You need to collect all the info you can to make the best decision that works for you,” she says. She acknowledges, however, that freshmen clamoring for a bid can lack the confidence to ask about attendance policies and finances.

Continue reading the main storyContinue reading the main storyContinue reading the main story
Gamma Phi Beta chapters are supposed to help with time management skills, she said. She proposes sorority members skip a required Sunday night chapter meeting if work necessitates and expresses the hope that members understand that “academic and family values should come first.”

Sororities are governed according to their own guidelines, and colleges do not intervene to limit their demands on students. But Ms. Robbins believes it is the colleges’ role to take action. She says they could do a much better job reporting what sorority life is like by requiring that each chapter supply recruits with a realistic list of time commitments and average yearly costs.

Universities are hesitant to crack down, Ms. Robbins suggests, because Greek alumni have strong bonds to the university and make sizable contributions.

Sororities can provide young women with a lively social life, engagement in community and the satisfaction of supporting worthy causes, but they’re clearly not for everyone. “If you’re going to join a sorority,” Ms. Rodgers said, “you must dedicate your life to it.”

Risa C. Doherty is a lawyer who writes about education from Long Island.

Sam Miguel
11-10-2014, 09:07 AM
Light in the dark

Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:07 AM |

Sunday, November 9th, 2014

November is National Reading Month, and at the kickoff last Monday Education Secretary Armin Luistro urged schoolchildren to let books unleash the wonders of their imagination. “There are books that will take you anywhere in the world… Books open up new and strange worlds that we might neither know nor reach. They can give us anything we imagine,” he told his audience at Pasig Central Elementary School.

Luistro also issued a memorandum encouraging preschools, elementary and high schools to hold activities and events that would spark a passion for reading in the run-up to Nov. 27, “Araw ng Pagbasa” (Day of Reading). Schools nationwide are urged to hold a book-reading session after the flag-raising ceremony on all the Mondays this month, or even set up mini-libraries—a greatly symbolic activity, with schools emphasizing the value of reading as both part of and beyond the curriculum.

It’s a critical point to make with reading losing its footing in the digital age—high irony considering the vast universe of reading matter available in the Web. The oceans of texts and rafts of pictures, graphics, illustrations, games and videos ad nauseam are cramping the delicate habit of reading, so that it is now necessary to devote time to focus attention on it, and redirect young people’s energies to the virtue of getting lost in a book, there finding both solace and excitement, and being thus gifted with knowledge, insight, memory, and then some.

Filipinos have a long and storied tradition of listening to as well as creating stories. Even before colonization, Filipinos had their own alphabet and wove their own wonderful tales. The colonizers found an educated people steeped in written and oral traditions, and to whom were taught—or imposed—other languages, literary forms and traditions.

It comes as a pleasant surprise that Filipinos’ love for reading still somehow endures amidst such time-wasting obsessions as Candy Crush Saga or Dota. The National Book Development Board’s 2012 Readership Survey showed that while the readership of books has declined slightly—from 92 percent in 2007 to 88 percent in 2012—the figure is still robust and makes up a motivation to persevere in pushing the reading habit.

The DepEd’s call to celebrate the magic of reading in schools clearly deserves public support. There are many ways to do it, including donating books we no longer need to those who would have use for them, and instituting activities to showcase the wonders of the written word. All over the country, libraries big and small are being opened and reading promoted with both government and private assistance. In August, Luistro announced that a solar energy foundation had donated a set of solar reading lights and charging stations for the libraries of 10 selected public schools. In Quezon City, Councilor Franz Pumaren issued the reminder that Republic Act No. 7743 requires the establishment of municipal, city and barangay reading centers, and urged the villages in the city that had yet to comply to do so. In May, international best-selling author Mitch Albom partnered with National Book Store to start the D.R.Y. Libraries project, which seeks to bring books to the libraries felled by Supertyphoon “Yolanda.” Storytelling groups such as the Basadours of Cebu are reaching out to children and enlivening the reading process.

At the Inquirer, we practice what we preach. The award-winning Inquirer Read-Along holds its 4th Read-Along Festival on Nov. 12-13 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, showcasing the best Filipino stories for children aged 7-12 as read by celebrity and professional storytellers. (The event will be highlighted by the crowning of the Festival Queen or King, the champion of the Festival Storytelling Competition for students aged 10-12.)

According to the NBDB’s 2012 Readership Survey, more Filipinos are reading books not required in school and at very young ages, showing that family and early schooling are early factors in reading. Indeed, the habit of reading is one of the best practices we can teach our children, the hope of the motherland. Every book one reads, buys, or gives is a bright light shafting through the darkness of ignorance and poverty. It affirms the National Reading Month’s resonant theme that in reading, hope springs: “Nasa Pagbasa ang Pag-asa.”

11-12-2014, 09:26 AM
Champions for life

Michael L. Tan


Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:01 AM | Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

The 3rd national conference on sport pedagogy was hosted by the University of the Philippines Diliman last week, with some 200 participants from Batanes to Zamboanga, showing how we’re becoming more scientific in the teaching of sports.

It’s not just PE or physical education, which refers to sports programs in elementary and high school, but “movement science” and “human kinetics,” with presentations on all kinds of studies to enhance sports performance and endurance. The plenary speakers included professors from other countries, including Filipinos like Dr. Catherine Capio now based at the University of Hong Kong and Dr. Jun San Juan at Western Washington University.

The range of sports being handled in schools has expanded, now including futsal (indoor football), traditional martial arts, mountain biking, even Pinoy ballroom dancing.

I had to deliver the opening remarks and thought I’d remind the audience that there is still much to do to advance sports education in the country. On the surface, we seem to have a strong school sports program, requiring PE at all levels. But when you look at the state of public gyms and sports facilities in schools, you will see why we do so poorly in international athletic competitions.

Fear of the body

Ultimately, the lack of support for sports goes back to a national mindset marked by somatophobia, a fear of the body.

The roots go back to our Christian traditions introduced by Spain. Early Christians disliked the “pagan” glorification of the body and adopted Stoic philosophies where the body was seen, at best, as a necessary evil and, even worse, a source of temptation and eternal damnation.

We still see that today in the constant warnings against being too attached to the body. The other week we heard a Filipino Catholic bishop warning that yoga, by emptying the mind, would invite demonic possession. The body, seen as evil, was something not just to be disciplined but to be punished. It is not surprising that we have some harsh penitential practices where the body is harmed as a way to achieve salvation.

Through the centuries, the body and the mind drifted apart in Western philosophy, with the French philosopher Rene Descartes giving special privilege to the mind by declaring, “I think, therefore I am.”

The Americans continued this privileging of the mind with an educational system that gave a premium to mental work. UP and other state schools were put up to train civil servants. Agriculture, technical and vocational professions were relegated to a menial status.

Class and gender came in as well in devaluing physical labor, and the body itself. Today, we see this kind of thinking in the fixation over skin whiteners, which are attempts to not so much imitate Caucasians as make ourselves seem upper-class, hindi nabibilad sa araw (not exposed to the sun).

As for gender, I still hear parents saying they don’t want their daughters becoming too athletic: baka umitim, baka lumaki ang braso, baka lumaki ang binti (she might turn dark, her arms and legs might become too developed).

Given all this, it is not surprising that PE is seen as just another requirement, mere lip service to the need to keep healthy.

Meanwhile, though, young people are discovering the need to give some attention to the body, and it is unfortunate that because PE is so neglected, it means health education is also minimal. Young people end up easy prey to all kinds of nonsensical, if not fraudulent, products, from the skin whiteners to steroids and testosterone for body-building.

I think, I move, therefore…

Bringing about change

Educators can change the situation through several measures.

First, we must follow the lead of many countries in the world that see sports and physical fitness as a vital part of general education and not just one of those subjects that isn’t even counted in the general average.

Second, sports pedagogy must question the very foundations of educational methods, which still tend to be based on mental faculties alone. Sports pedagogy can and will bring out the importance of creating habits, muscle memories and kinesthetic learning. Schooling can become a feast of the senses—visual, auditory, tactile—capped by body movements. Descartes’ axiom should be expanded: “I think, I run, I dance, I exercise, therefore I am.”

Third, movement science should initiate research to show how sports and fitness activities can enhance mental learning and overall academic performance. A sound mind needs a sound body. What better way to teach nutrition and health education than to have students seeing how their bodies change through better diets and exercise, done as part of PE? What better way to teach anatomy and physiology than for students to see how their bodies achieve potentials that they could never even imagine?

What better way to teach students stress management, whether during examination periods or after major disasters, than to show how one feels good after exercise, and that it is especially important in times of stress? (At the conference there was one workshop on using sports, games and play for postdisaster rehabilitation programs.)

Fourth, we should demonstrate how sports are vital for values education. There’s nationalism involved in learning arnis and other traditional sports. But there’s room as well for internationalism, as students appreciate the religion and philosophy behind tae kwon do, judo, and, yes, yoga.

Still related to values education, school sports programs should be used to impart life skills. Sports programs teach our young the thrill of excelling in all we do, achieved through diligent, constant practice. Sports programs also inculcate in the young the imperatives of team spirit, ethics and sportsmanship.

More than winning at athletic performances, our school sports programs must work toward raising a next generation of Filipinos who will pressure town and city officials to build more sports facilities, rather than token basketball half-courts in the middle of a street, or cockfighting arenas.

Sports pedagogy must teach our young to dare to do the undoable… and think the unthinkable. At our last UAAP (University Athletic Association of the Philippines) cheerdance competition, we raised placards that read UP on one side and “Pantay pantay” (Equality) on the other—a call to think differently, to break the mold, as women Pep Squad members lifted men into the air. The crowds, and later, social media, went wild with this display that defied not just physical but also cultural barriers.

That is what sports pedagogy must be about: creating, from preschools to universities, champions for minds, for bodies and for lives.

* * *

02-10-2015, 08:01 AM
British School Manila breaks silence on student's death


Posted at 02/09/2015 5:18 PM

MANILA – The British School Manila has broken its silence regarding one of its students who allegedly committed suicide after being scolded by his teacher.

Simon Mann, head of the private international school, said the school is extending its deepest sympathies to the family of of 18-year-old Liam Madamba, who allegedly committed suicide after being accused of plagiarism by his teacher, who is a British national.

''We share in the grief of the Madamba family and respect their privacy and we aim to support them and our whole community through this challenging and difficult time,'' Mann said.

Mann said, in the wake of the incident, the school will be holding a forum for the families of students.

''We will be holding a forum for our families to share how we can help and support their children over the coming days and weeks and we will be holding a student-led memorial service at school to commemorate Liam's life,'' he said.

''We hope that our strong community will be able to help the Madamba family, our students, our staff and our families cope with this tragedy."

Mann did not address in the statement the issue involving Madamba's alleged plagiarism case, but he said ''at this time, we are making available significantly increased counselling services for students who may need help in dealing with this tragic incident. We are also monitoring our students carefully and providing support when and where it is needed."

The Madamba family said it is inclined to pursue charges against the teacher. It is also asking for a hold departure order against the teacher.

02-18-2015, 08:07 AM
Worth a share and a few laughs...


03-03-2015, 08:31 AM
Education at risk

Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:13 AM |

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

Passions run high whenever capitalist interests conflict with basic services such as education. Take the case of the row between STI Education System Holdings of businessman Eusebio Tanco and the Benitez family of Philippine Women’s University. Tanco has initiated foreclosure proceedings on the Benitezes’ assets, particularly the campuses of the 96-year-old PWU in Manila and of a sister school in Quezon City, as well as an affiliate’s property in Davao City. Now the media are barraged with emotional commentaries, mostly favoring the education side.

All this stemmed from the implementation—or more like the failure of it—of the terms of an agreement when STI Holdings absorbed PWU’s loan with Banco de Oro Unibank worth P223 million in 2011 and extended a P198-million loan to Unlad Resources Development Corp., the corporate arm of the Benitezes.

STI president Monico Jacob claimed that STI was supposed to have been paid in shares of stock in 2011 but that to date, no payment has been made. The shares of stock would have come from an increase in the authorized capital of PWU’s sister firm, Unlad Resources. (STI would have ended up owning 40 percent of PWU through the conversion of the loans into equity.) This prompted Tanco’s group to declare the Benitez family in default of its obligations in December 2014, and to demand P923 million as payment for the loans. Last Feb. 10, STI asked a Manila court to start the foreclosure of PWU’s Manila campuses for failing to pay STI the P923 million in accumulated loans, interest and other expenses. Jacob argued that the court filing was meant to protect the interests of STI and its shareholders. STI has to date filed separate foreclosure petitions against PWU properties, particularly the Taft and Indiana campuses in Manila, the Jose Abad Santos Memorial School (JASMS) Quezon City campus, and a property in Davao under Unlad Resources.

The Benitez family, for its part, has called the declaration of default “illegal and baseless” and filed a case contesting it in a Manila court. From the family’s point of view, Tanco agreed to waive all interest when STI took over the loan from BDO, although STI countered that interest would have been waived only if the Benitezes had complied with the original agreement to pay STI in the form of shares in Unlad Resources.

In an effort to amicably settle the dispute, the Benitez family offered P550 million as a “fair and just” amount. In a letter to Jacob dated Feb. 4, Unlad Resources proposed the settlement, of which the down payment of P150 million was committed to be paid within three weeks after STI agrees to the settlement, and the balance of P400 million in six months. In an earlier statement, PWU media director Lydia Benitez-Brown pointed out that the family’s offer was based on a fair settlement in ongoing efforts to find a mutually acceptable resolution, and that STI was “unreasonable” in its “demand that [PWU] settle P923 million in seven days.”

This offer, however, has been rejected outright by Tanco, who claimed that the amount was “not acceptable.” He said it would now be up to the courts to resolve this matter.

Ordinary people may view Tanco as a shrewd capitalist who would not care a bit about closing an educational institution if the opportunity to earn more in putting up a commercial complex on the school’s campus presents itself. Yet by and large, that is how it is in the corporate world. The University of the Philippines Integrated School, for example, has given way to a commercial complex called UP Town Center. A city school in Manila has earlier given way to Lucky Chinatown Mall.

Still, there are businessmen with heart and compassion. If Tanco assures the public that PWU will remain an educational institution in his group’s overall plan, then public sentiment can reverse. This will dispel suspicions that he is only after the prime property on which the school campuses stand. At this point, the court may be the best judge on who is right insofar as the loan involved is concerned.

Tanco’s demand for the Benitez family to pay P923 million for obligations of P448 million may be legally correct (from a creditor’s standpoint), but is it morally right (considering that the borrower is a not-for-profit educational institution)? At the end of the day, the best solution remains a compromise between the Tanco and Benitez camps. A protracted legal battle will benefit no one, and only adversely affect the educational institution that is PWU.

03-11-2015, 09:09 AM
Ready for K-to-12?

Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:12 AM | Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

Specifically, are we ready for Grade 11, the first of the two new senior high school years that have been added to the curriculum by virtue of the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013? By the start of school year 2016-2017, millions of students across the country who would have otherwise graduated from four years of high school would make up the first batch to enroll in Grade 11. After Grade 12, when they graduate in March 2018, they would constitute the first batch of high school students to finish the K-to-12 program.

What does this mean in practical terms? It means, for one, that by next year, public schools would have to find extra classrooms, restrooms, teachers, textbooks, etc. to accommodate the new Grade 11 population that should have gone on to freshman college studies in the earlier setup, but which would now remain for another two years in the school. The old school system replaced by K-to-12 leaned for decades on the annual turnaround of graduating students to make way for incoming batches from the lower years to use existing school facilities.

This time, the first year of implementation of the added senior high school under K-to-12 gives secondary schools the problem of where to put their Grade 11 classes. The burden is even more acute in public schools, which are mandated by law to carry the extra two years, even as they are more typically deprived of the resources and facilities that private schools enjoy. Private junior high schools, while required to adhere to the minimum requirements of the K-to-12 curriculum, may choose not to offer Grades 11-12, which means their students will either have to find another private school that offers the senior high school years, or enroll in a public high school—further adding to the sudden population bulge in those campuses.

While secondary schools grapple with an excess of students, the opposite will be true for colleges and universities in the next two years. With the first batch of students completing Grades 11-12, no enrollments for freshman college will happen in school years 2016-2017 and 2017-2018, leaving tertiary schools with the problem of what to do with teachers on their payroll and classrooms and facilities left unused with the drastic drop in enrollment. This does not even count the possibility of more teachers losing their jobs as subjects are consolidated or dropped outright under the new curriculum.

Is the Philippine educational system ready for this disruption? The Coalition for K to 12 Suspension, a new civic group composed of teachers, faculty associations, nonteaching personnel, parents and labor unionists, warns that it’s not. “Based on the consultations we conducted, we found out that the country’s education system is woefully ill-prepared for this program,” said the coalition’s spokesperson, Rene Luis Tadle. It estimates that about 80,000 people (56,771 college teachers and 22,838 nonteaching staff) will lose their jobs come school year 2016-2017, when college enrollments go down to zero. High schools across the country, on the other hand, lack enough classrooms and facilities to accommodate the students staying behind to take up Grade 11.

K-to-12 has, in fact, been running for some three years now, with the mandated universal kindergarten first implemented in school year 2011-2012, and the enhanced curriculum for Grade 1 and Grade 7 or First Year Junior High School kicking off in school year 2012-2013. Still, as reported by GMA News in June 2014, the program continues to be plagued with a lack of facilities and timely teaching materials. Teachers, for instance, are forced to use textbooks already phased out under the new curriculum simply because the newly approved ones are late in coming.

The Coalition for K to 12 Suspension warns that bigger problems are in store once Grade 11 begins, with the educational system inadequately prepared for the major shift. It has found an ally in Sen. Antonio Trillanes, a long-time critic of the program, who says, “The present system worked for the earlier generations, and there is no reason why it shouldn’t work for the present crop of students.”

That’s a rather simplistic argument against K-to-12, which seems to be a belated but well-intentioned corrective to an outmoded system (the Philippines was the last country in Asia to adopt a 12-year preuniversity program). But, as always, the devil is in the details. What is the government doing to ensure that, by next school year, K-to-12 does not result in chaos?

Sam Miguel
03-26-2015, 03:01 PM
English in Senior High


By Isagani Cruz (The Philippine Star) |

Updated March 26, 2015 - 12:00am

Last week, I described the competencies or skills in Vocabulary Development that students from Kindergarten to Grade 8 are expected to have. Here are the competencies for the rest of the grades in the K to 12 curriculum (taken verbatim from the curriculum guides on the website of the Department of Education).

In Grade 9, the student “provides words or expressions appropriate for a given situation, explains how words are derived from names of persons and places, arrives at the meanings of words through word formation (clipping, blending, acronymy, compounding, folk etymology, etc.), notes types of context clues (restatement, definition, synonyms, antonyms) used for a given word or expression, gives the appropriate communicative styles for various situations (intimate, casual, conversational, consultative, frozen), determines the vocabulary or jargon expected of a communicative style, and gets familiar with the technical vocabulary for drama and theatre (like stage directions).” Note the introduction on this grade level of theater.

In Grade 10, the student “differentiates formal from informal definitions of words, gives technical and operational definitions, gives expanded definitions of words, and gets familiar with technical terms used in research.” Note the introduction of research.

In Grade 11, the student takes a required Core Subject called “Reading and Writing.” Because all the basic vocabulary skills have been attained by the student from Kindergarten to Grade 10, the student is now ready to tackle whole texts (technically called “discourse”). Therefore, in this 80-hour subject, the student “describes a written text as connected discourse, distinguishes between and among techniques in selecting and organizing information, distinguishes between and among patterns of development in writing across disciplines, identifies properties of a well-written text, explains critical reading as looking for ways of thinking, identifies claims explicitly or implicitly made in a written text, identifies the context in which a text is developed, explains critical reading as reasoning, formulates evaluative statements about a text read, determines textual evidence to validate assertions and counterclaims made about a text read, explains how one’s purpose is a crucial consideration in academic and professional writing, identifies the unique features of and requirements in composing texts that are useful across disciplines, and identifies the unique features of and requirements in composing professional correspondence.” Note that these competencies used to be attained only after two college General Education (GE) subjects in English.

One item in the last competency listed above may surprise those still not conversant with one of the key objectives of adding two years to basic education. By the end of Grade 11, the student will already be able to write an “Application for Employment,” as well as “Various forms of Office Correspondence.”

Before K to 12, it was unusual to think of a high school graduate as being immediately employed in an office where s/he would compose office correspondence. With K to 12, it will be the rule that a high school graduate can be hired immediately in an office.

This is one of the advantages of K to 12. Instead of poor parents spending for higher or technical education in a school or center that charges tuition fees, skills training will now be free for all public high school students. Those who are saying that parents will spend more for K to 12 are arguing from ignorance. The curriculum is there for all to see. Just go to the DepEd website, click on “K to 12,” and everything in this column is there.

Now, for the other English subjects in Senior High School.

There is another required Core Curriculum subject named “Oral Communication.” This is pretty much the same as the current GE subject in English. I will not go through the entire description of this subject, but one particular learning competency will illustrate how it derives from the earlier spiraled subjects in English. “Observes the appropriate language forms in using a particular speech style” follows from this Grade 9 competency: “determines the vocabulary or jargon expected of a communicative style.”

There is also an Applied Track Subject (“applied track” means that the content may be different but the competencies are the same) in Grade 12 called “English for Academic and Professional Purposes.”

Let us say that a student wants to work immediately in a hotel after graduation from high school. That student will take “texts specific to their courses (Home Economics) like instructional manuals, brochures, digital materials, etc.” The student will learn how to “determine the structure, differentiate the language used, explain the specific ideas contained in the texts,” and so on.

If the school uses the Dual Training mode of delivery for its Tech-Voc subjects, this English subject may involve actual immersion in a place where people use English for professional communication (such as a hotel catering to foreigners). DepEd has explained that the “number of hours per subject” “may be a combination of lecture and laboratory, field work, project work, etc.” In fact, Section 6 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013 explicitly states that “DepEd may allow private educational institutions flexibility in adopting the program provided that they comply with the DepEd-prescribed minimum standards consistent with the Act.”

05-24-2015, 06:13 PM
Palace allays fears on massive dropouts due to K to 12

Posted at 05/24/2015 12:39 PM
MANILA - Malacanang allayed fears there will be a massive dropout of students as the government prepares to implement fully the K to 12 program, which adds two more years to secondary education.

In a radio interview, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. dismissed a statement from militant groups that almost one million of school children may drop out of school because of the effect of the K to 12 program.

In a report from the Philippine Star, Anakbayan national chairperson Vencer Crisostomo said only half of the number of public high schools nationwide have submitted proposals on senior high school programs.

“Students will be forced to transfer to private schools and pay expensive tuition. But many are in public schools precisely because they cannot pay. What will happen to them? Surely, the number of out-of-school youths and dropouts will balloon,” he was quoted as saying.

Coloma said the scenario the militant group has painted is not true.

“Hindi po natin nakikita ‘yung senaryo na kanilang ipinipinta hinggil dito, kaya ang atin pong posisyon diyan ay doon pa rin sa aspeto na masiglang pagpapatupad nito. Wala po tayong hangarin dito na mapariwara, bagkus gusto natin pong mapabuti ang kinabukasan ng ating mga kabataan,” he said.

He added the government is doing all it can to implement the K to 12 program sans hitches.

“Ang nais po natin ay lumahok nang aktibo ang lahat ng mag-aaral para sa kanilang sariling kapakanan. Kaya na po natin ipinasa itong K-to-12 na batas ay para madagdagan ang kaalaman ng ating mga kabataan at maging competitive po sila sa pandaigdigang larangan,” he said.

He appealed to critics to study the positive effects of the program.

“Kung mayroon pong mga kakaibang mga pananaw, sana po ay pag-aralan nilang mabuti ‘yung kanilang posisyon,” he said.

05-24-2015, 06:30 PM
Palace dismisses militants’ claim K-12 will produce 1M dropouts

Aries Joseph Hegina



5:32 PM | Sunday, May 24th, 2015

A PALACE official dismissed the grim scenario presented by a militant youth group, which said that the Kindergarten to Grade 12 program (K to 12) would force about one million students to drop out of school.

In a radio interview, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said that the government is on track in its preparations to fully implement the program.

“Hindi po natin nakikita ‘yung senaryo na kanilang ipinipinta hinggil dito, kaya ang atin pong posisyon diyan ay doon pa rin sa aspeto na masiglang pagpapatupad nito. Wala po tayong hangarin dito na mapariwara, bagkus gusto natin pong mapagbuti ang kinabukasan ng ating mga kabataan (We do not see the scenario they are presenting, that is why our position still leans on the program’s full implementation. We do not intend to put our children astray because our goal is to give them a better future), ” Coloma said over radio dzRB on Sunday.

Citing data from Congress reports and Department of Education, youth group Anakbayan said that since only 3,839 of the 7,976 or about 48 percent of public high schools have signified interest to implement the senior high school next school year, about one million students would not be accommodated and forced to transfer to more expensive private schools.

“Students will be forced to transfer to private schools and pay expensive tuition. But many are in public schools precisely because they cannot pay. What will happen to them? Surely, the number of out-of-school youths and drop-outs will balloon,” Anakbayan national chairperson Vencer Crisostomo said.

Coloma urged Anakbayan and other groups who assail the program to study thoroughly their positions on the issue.

“Kung mayroon pong mga kakaibang mga pananaw, sana po ay pag-aralan nilang mabuti ‘yung kanilang posisyon (If there are groups who have dissenting opinions (on K to 12), they should study their positions thoroughly),” he added.

The K to 12 program adds another two years in the country’s current basic education system. The additional two years, which are considered as “Senior High School,” allow students to pursue three tracks of specialization, which will help them in getting a job after graduation, or pursue tertiary education.

According to the Department of Education, 5,800 schools nationwide are expected to offer senior high school by 2016. AC

06-04-2015, 11:01 AM
Sad school realities

Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:32 AM |

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

Last Monday, the opening of the new school year in 46,624 public elementary and high schools nationwide, some 23 million students were expected to troop back to their classrooms, along with 603,500-plus teachers (401,913 in grade school, 201,651 in high school). At the close of the day, the Department of Education and the Philippine National Police declared that the first day of classes was “generally peaceful, safe and secure.”

And so it seemed. While there were protests from progressive groups demanding a halt to the implementation of the K-to-12 program, which will add Grade 11 next year and Grade 12 in 2017 to make for a new 13-year basic education curriculum, no untoward incidents were reported and the day passed rather uneventfully.

In Metro Manila, however, the wretched administrators of the Metro Rail Transit were not about to pass up the chance to ruin the occasion. Only seven trains of MRT 3 were deployed for the whole day, out of the regular 20 that plied the system during peak hours. The scarcity of trains led to even more excruciating waiting time in sweltering stations, the lines often snaking out into open areas under the relentless sun. MRT management said 13 of the trains were out of commission due to malfunctioning air-conditioning units. The wonder, of course, is why all 13 had to go on the blink on the very day they were needed the most to service millions more commuters, mostly parents with kids in tow, trying to get to schools around the metro. Nobody among MRT top honchos knew it was the school opening, and so could have ordered that ailing trains be repaired weeks earlier to be able to accommodate the increased demand?

The government, of course, would not want the MRT glitch that greeted the new school year to be seen as a harbinger of more problems ahead. But that’s a perception that can’t be helped. The MRT/LRT breakdowns—now becoming an alarmingly regular affair, with the latest incident no less than a collision between two trains of the LRT 1 line—are but a manifestation of the haphazard, negligent governance under the Aquino administration, and more so when a wholesale glitch happens on a day long forecast to be extra-busy on the streets that 24,000 cops had to be deployed by the PNP to staff assistance desks near schools. Who was in charge?

At the very least, incidents like this inspire no confidence that the administration is on top of the game as it attempts a momentous reboot of the educational system, beginning this year when it graduates the last batch of four-year high school seniors and gears up for the surge of millions of brand-new Grade 11 students by June 2016. Are the Department of Education and the government ready? The DepEd says it has built 66,813 classrooms from July 2010 to December 2013, with an additional 41,728 proposed to be constructed this year. That number is enough, it says, based on a 1:45 classroom-to-student ratio.

But the cause-oriented Alliance of Concerned Teachers maintains that, contrary to the DepEd’s rosy picture, more than 112,000 classrooms and some 24 million textbooks and teachers’ manuals are still lacking. Reports gathered by the Inquirer yesterday appear to bolster this view. The Batasan Hills National High School, for instance, has only 127 classrooms for a student population of 12,921, which would result in a staggering situation of roughly 100 students crammed into a room. The school’s rudimentary solution for now? Partition some of the classrooms into two, leading to a more cramped, congested environment.

Elsewhere, Eastern Visayas still lacks 287,000 classrooms for more than one million students; in Zamboanga City, of 71,718 chairs needed, only 1,300 have been provided so far, according to division school superintendent Pedro Melchor Natividad. The shortage is so acute that in Ligao West Central School in Albay, the students were told to bring their own chairs. And in Pangasinan, pupils trooping to computer rooms would have found desks bare of desktop computers; some 24 public schools were reportedly stripped of equipment by robbers in January.

Yes—24. How were thieves able to hit that many number of schools in a spree that appeared to have escaped police detection for so long? Like the case of 13 MRT trains uniformly breaking down on the first day of school due to lack of proper care and foresight, that’s the kind of reality on the ground that makes us only more anxious of the days ahead for students of public schools.

06-04-2015, 11:32 AM
Filipino in Senior High School


By Isagani Cruz (The Philippine Star) |

Updated June 4, 2015 - 12:00am

There are three courses on the Filipino language in Senior High School (SHS).

All students need to take the two “Core Curriculum Subjects” called “Communication and Research in Philippine Language and Culture” and “Reading and Criticism of Different Texts for Research.” (As I indicated in past columns, I use my own rough translations of the Filipino words for this English newspaper. The original Filipino words can be found on the DepEd website.)

They then take another required subject on Filipino, called “Filipino for Specific Purposes (Academic, Sports, Arts, Tech-Voc),” as an “Applied Track Subject.”

The competencies for these subjects are taken from the Filipino subjects in the current General Education Curriculum (GEC), as mandated in CHED Memorandum Order No. 54, series of 2007 (“Revised Syllabi in Filipino 1, 2, and 3 under the New General Education Curriculum”).

For example, the college Filipino 1 (“Communication in Academic Filipino”), features discussions on “language, dialect, idiolect, variety, variation, register, domain, and repertoire.” The first SHS core subject features discussions on “language, national language, language of instruction, official language, bilingualism, multilingualism, register, variety, homogeneity, heterogeneity, language community, mother tongue, second language.”

Since an SHS subject is taught for 80 hours, as compared to a college subject which is taught for only 54 hours, the SHS subject can tackle more topics than the college subject.

The second college subject features discussions on “characteristics of texts and registers in different disciplines, such as social sciences, humanities, science, technology, and mathematics.” The SHS applied track subject has four different curriculum guides (the high school equivalent of the college “syllabus”), one each for Academic, Sports, Arts, and Tech-Voc.

The curriculum guide for the Academic Track corresponds to the second college subject. It requires students to write a research paper. (Note that the elements of writing a research paper were taught much earlier in the basic education curriculum. By Grade 11, the paper has to be as good as, if not better than, college papers being written today.)

The college subject features lessons in “determining and limiting the topic; rationale, objective, and methodology; tentative bibliography; tentative outline; gathering of data; use and organization of data; and the final outline.” Similarly, the SHS subject requires the student to write the following: “abstract, synthesis or summary, bionote, project proposal, speech, minutes of meetings, position paper, reflective essay, agenda, pictorial essay, and travel essay.” Again, since the SHS subject has more hours than the college subject, there is more time to require more types of writing.

The third college subject (“Creative Exposition”) focuses on “rhetoric, grammar, style, oral and written discourse, reading, and writing workshop (including essay, anecdote, creative nonfiction, popularization).” The second SHS core subject focuses on “linguistic, structural, grammatical competence; sociolinguistic competence; pragmatic competence; and discursive competence.” The final output of this particular SHS subject is “a preliminary research paper on cultural and societal phenomena in the country.”

Of course, there are differences, but they are minor when viewed in the context of the general objective of the three SHS subjects and three college subjects.

In fact, more attention is given to Filipino in SHS than in the old GEC. There are 80 hours per subject or 240 required hours devoted to Filipino in SHS, but only 54 hours per subject or 162 hours required for students of humanities, social sciences, and communication, or 108 hours required for students of other majors in college.

The students in Grade 11 (16-year-olds) are exactly the same students in First Year College (if there were no Grade 11). The subject matter is the same, the students are the same, the teachers might even be the same. Changing the name “First Year College” to “Grade 11,” at least in the case of the study of the Filipino language, is a mere change of name, not of substance.

Note that I talk only of the SHS subjects in Filipino and the old or current GEC, not of the new or proposed GEC (which is the object of a TRO and is, therefore, sub judice).

ON FILING MY PERSONAL INCOME TAX RETURN: I heard that a number of other people had lots of problems with the online filing of ITRs this year, but once I read BIR Revenue Memorandum Circular No. 14-2015, it was easy for me to follow instructions. I commend BIR Commissioner Kim Henares for pushing through online income tax filing. This will help in a big way to decrease corruption in the bureau.

ATTENTION, PHOTOCOPYING MONSTERS: Section 10 of RA 10372, enacted on Feb. 13, 2013, amending Section 183 of RA 8293, mandates that “the owners of copyright and related rights or their heirs may designate a society of artists, writers, composers and other right-holders to collectively manage their economic or moral rights on their behalf.”

That society, as chosen by the government, is the Filipinas Copyright Licensing Society (FILCOLS), which was a finalist in the Publishers Association Copyright Protection Award in the recent London Book Fair.

In our country, FILCOLS manages the rights of authors and publishers around the world. If you are reproducing copyrighted materials for use in schools or corporations, please contact FILCOLS before you are hailed to court for copyright infringement. (Disclosure: I chair FILCOLS, and I am not kidding!)

Sam Miguel
06-16-2015, 07:59 AM
Former Ivy League admissions dean reveals why highly qualified Asian-American students often get rejected


JUN. 10, 2015, 10:39 AM

Asian-American students may be at a distinct disadvantage when applying to highly competitive colleges, according to Sara Harberson, a former Ivy League admissions dean.

In a recent op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, Harberson — the former associate dean of admissions at the University of Pennsylvania and the former dean of admissions and financial aid at Franklin & Marshall College — writes that there is always a reason for a college applicant's rejection. In many cases, students are denied admission because they don't have a "tag" associated with their application — what Harberson calls "the proverbial golden ticket for a student applying to an elite institution."

Students with tags may be "recruited athletes, children of alumni, children of donors or potential donors, or students who are connected to the well connected," according to the former admissions dean. However, Harberson writes, "Asian American students typically don't have these tags." As she notes:

Asian Americans are rarely children of alumni at the Ivies, for example. There aren't as many recruited athletes coming from the Asian American applicant pool. Nor are they typically earmarked as "actual" or "potential" donors. They simply don't have long-standing connections to these institutions.

And the fact is that Asian Americans often don't use the "connections" they do have. In all my years in college admissions, I never received a phone call or a visit from a well-connected politician, chief executive or other leader to advocate for an Asian American student.

Within discussions between admissions officers, Asian-American students may also face discrimination based on their race. Many elite colleges, Harberson writes, use "holistic admission" standards, which allows race to be a factor in a student's admission decision, as long as there are no strict quotas. In some cases, the consideration of race will work against Asian-American students.

"For example, there's an expectation that Asian Americans will be the highest test scorers and at the top of their class; anything less can become an easy reason for a denial," Harberson writes. "In the end, holistic admissions can allow for a gray zone of bias at elite institutions, working against a group such as Asian Americans that excels in the black-and-white world of academic achievement."

Harberson's article comes in the middle of a major discussion about the use of race in college admissions, specifically regarding Asian-American students.

In May, a coalition of Asian-American advocacy groups filed a federal complaint against Harvard University, alleging the school used racial quotas. This action joined lawsuits filed last year against Harvard and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, filed by a group called Students for Fair Admission.

"Students for Fair Admission's complaint highlights data and analysis that strongly suggests that white, African-American, and Hispanic applicants are given racial preferences over better qualified Asian Americans applying for admission to Harvard," the group said in a press release.

In a statement after the May federal complaint, Harvard University general counsel Robert Iuliano wrote: "The College's admissions policies are fully compliant with the law and are essential to the pedagogical objectives that underlie its educational mission ... the College considers each applicant through an individualized, holistic review having the goal of creating a vibrant academic community that exposes students to a wide-range of differences: background, ideas, experiences, talents, and aspirations."

Some college-admissions consultants are now targeting Asian-American families to help them battle what they're calling the "bamboo ceiling" at elite schools.

"Don't talk about your family coming from Vietnam with $2 in a rickety boat and swimming away from sharks," Asian Advantage College Consulting founder James Chen recently told The Boston Globe.

Sam Miguel
06-16-2015, 08:01 AM
A perfect ACT score couldn't get this student into Yale, Princeton, or Stanford, and he says it's because he's Asian-American


JUN. 1, 2015, 2:23 PM

With a perfect ACT score and 13 Advanced Placement courses under his belt, Michael Wang applied to seven Ivy League universities and Stanford in 2013.

An Asian-American, Wang suspected his race might work against him. But he was still shocked when he was rejected by Stanford and every Ivy League school except for the University of Pennsylvania.

Wang says he worked incredibly hard and excelled in every area possible. But it still wasn't good enough.

"There was nothing humanly possible I could do," Wang told us, saying he felt utterly demoralized after his rejections.

Wang said that after he was rejected from most of the Ivies, he filed a complaint with the US Department of Education alleging that Yale, Stanford, and Princeton discriminated against him because he was Asian-American.

Wang isn't alone in his belief that the Ivies discriminate against Asians. A coalition of Asian-American groups filed a lawsuit against Harvard last month alleging the college and other Ivy League institutions use racial quotas to admit students to the detriment of more qualified Asian-American applicants. The more than 60 Asian groups are coming together to fight what they say are unfair admission practices.

Wang's credentials are impressive. Academically, he was ranked second overall in his class and graduated with a 4.67 weighted grade point average. He scored a 2230 on his SAT, placing him in the 99th percentile of students who took the exam.

He also stressed that he was not just academically driven, but also a well-rounded applicant who maximized his extracurricular activities. He competed in national speech and debate competitions and math competitions. He also plays the piano and performed in the choir that sang at President Barack Obama's 2008 inauguration.

Wang hasn't heard back from the department about his complaints but strongly supports the most recent complaint filed by the coalition of Asian-American groups.

For now, he's enjoying his time at Williams College, where he just finished his sophomore year. And while Williams consistently ranks near the top if not No. 1 in the US News and World Report's rankings of liberal-arts colleges, Wang still feels as if he was unfairly rejected from the Ivies.

"I think I deserve better than what I got," he said.

In addition to last month's complaint filed against Harvard, a nonprofit group called Students for Fair Admissions filed lawsuits in November accusing Harvard and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill of discriminating against Asian-American students in their undergraduate admissions policies.

And a recent opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal called Asian-Americans "The New Jews of Harvard Admissions," referring to the university's well-documented policies to keep out Jewish students during the early 20th century.

For its part, Harvard is pushing back against the complaints, and it said in a formal comment on its website "within its holistic admissions process, and as part of its effort to build a diverse class, Harvard College has demonstrated a strong record of recruiting and admitting Asian-American students."

Moreover, Harvard said a previous investigation from the US Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights found the college's "approach to admissions was fully compliant with federal law."

We reached out to Princeton, Stanford, and Yale for comment.

01-26-2016, 11:18 AM

What's wrong with single-sex schools? A lot.

(Los Angeles Times)

Juliet A. Williams

In her first days on the job, L.A. Unified’s new Superintendent Michelle King suggested that single-sex education might attract more families to the district and improve student achievement. She wouldn’t be the first district leader to vest hope — not to mention public funds — in all-boys and all-girls schools. But LAUSD should be wary of segregating its students by sex.

The notion of boys’ and girls’ schools conjures rosy images of elite private institutions, but the history of single-sex education in the United States is rife with misguided prejudice. In the 1870s, retired Harvard professor Edward H. Clarke ignited popular interest in single-sex education — by arguing that exposing adolescent girls to the rigors of a standard education would cause their reproductive organs to wither. In the 1950s, after racial segregation was declared unconstitutional, sex-segregated public schools were created across the South to keep boys and girls of different racial backgrounds apart.

Today, in a major reversal, single-sex education has found political champions among supporters of gender equality and those who believe that black and Latino boys in particular will benefit from being educated apart from their female peers. In 2001, then-Sen. Hilary Clinton co-sponsored a provision of the No Child Left Behind Act that provided federal funds to fledgling single-sex public schools, spurring local school districts across the country to experiment with sex segregation.

A few years later, however, a government-commissioned study noted a lack evidence proving that single-sex education improved student performance. The Bush administration decided to press forward anyway, and in 2006 issued guidelines signaling it wouldn’t go after single-sex public schools for violating laws against sex discrimination in education. Today, there are nearly 80 single-sex public schools in the U.S., up from just a handful three decades ago. Hundreds more schools separate boys and girls during academic instruction, though the campuses are technically coed.

So, how’s it going?

Supporters point to a few carefully chosen examples to prove single-sex education raises test scores and boosts students’ confidence. But the larger story is the overwhelming number of single-sex public school programs that haven’t produced any positive results. In 2014, researchers Erin Pahlke, Janet Shibley Hyde, and Carlie M. Allison published a meta-analysis of existing studies on single-sex instruction. Their exhaustive review found no significant advantage, for boys or girls, over coeducation.

Research shows that successful schools do certain things — such as creating strong mentoring relationships and keeping class sizes to a manageable level — that benefit students whether boys and girls learn together or apart.

Meanwhile, evidence is mounting that single-sex education can do real harm by perpetuating limiting gender stereotypes. In single-sex schools across the country, girls’ classrooms are decorated in pastels while boys are surrounded by bold colors; girls are assigned to read romantic fiction, while boys are given non-fiction books; boys are subjected to frequent drills and timed tests, while girls are assigned group work and non-competitive activities — and on and on.

These “gender-sensitive” teaching methods sometimes are dressed up in the legitimating jargon of neuroscience, but the popular notion that boys and girls are “hard-wired” to learn differently rests on gross generalizations about sex differences in the brain. Today, much of the so-called “science” of sex difference has been debunked, but that hasn’t kept public schools from modeling programs on bogus theories. As a result, boys are being deprived of the opportunity to develop crucial social skills, such as working collaboratively and thinking creatively, while girls are being denied the opportunity to build test-taking skills and learn how to succeed under pressure.

Past mistakes don’t prove that single-sex schools can never work in public education in the future. But unless LAUSD takes a critical look at the facts and research on single-sex education, it hardly can be expected to do any better moving forward.

Juliet A. Williams is a professor in the UCLA Department of Gender Studies, and the author of the forthcoming "The Separation Solution: Single-Sex Public Education and the New Politics of Gender Equality."

10-15-2019, 08:17 AM
DepEd: Christmas break to start December 15

Published October 14, 2019 12:39pm


Christmas break for kindergarten to Grade 12 students in public schools in the country will start on December 15, 2019, according to the school calendar released by the Department of Education (DepEd).

DepEd Order 007 s. 2019 indicates that: "The Christmas break shall begin on Sunday, December 15, 2019. Classes shall resume on Monday, January 6, 2020."

According to DepEd spokesperson Usec. Nepomuceno Malaluan, class suspensions in previous months are unlikely to affect the schedule for Christmas break this year.

"The calendar also ay localized naman with the adjustments that have to be made in light of suspensions. So far, walang indication that we will deviate from that school calendar," Malaluan told GMA News Online in a phone interview.

"There are municipalities that suspend more, kasi LGUs [local government units] 'yung suspensions eh and there are municipalities that suspend less kaya 'yung interventions for make up of lost periods is more of a localized matter. It will depend on regions and then divisions and even school level," he added.

Deped spokesperson Usec. Analyn Sevilla, however, noted that private schools may implement a different schedule.

"The department order is in effect for all public schools. Private schools have their own school calendar hence Christmas break for private school students are set by its school administrators," Sevilla said in a text message. —KBK, GMA News

10-22-2019, 10:42 AM
Aztec looks to the Philippines amid teacher shortage

By Sam Ribakoff, Farmington Daily Times

Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019 2:13 PM

AZTEC (AP) – It was a cold Monday morning at C.V. Koogler Middle School in Aztec. Students stumbled into Shannon Albores’ history class and take off their rumpled jackets. After reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, they greeted their teacher by saying in unison, ‘magandang umaga!’– which is Filipino for ‘good morning.’

Albores was born and raised in a city called Cebu in the Philippines. There she earned a teaching credential and started teaching kindergarten and elementary school. She liked it, but after learning of an opportunity to teach abroad – and with it, the chance to earn a higher salary – she took the opportunity.

Albores, along with seven other teachers from various parts of the Philippines, started working in the Aztec Municipal School District at the start of the 2019 school year to fill persistently unfilled vacancies at the school district, especially in special education departments in all grade levels.

“These are positions that had been vacant for seven years,” said Tania Prokop, the Deputy Superintendent of the Aztec Municipal School District, “luckily we found a local company to bring teachers here from the Philippines.”

That Farmington-based company charges fees to those teachers, and its owner said she keeps those fees as low as possible because she, herself, paid much higher fees when she came to this country years ago through another agency that charged her twice as much.

School districts, like Aztec, and others throughout the country have turned to an emerging international contract teacher industry that recruits teachers from around the world to teach in school districts throughout the country. One of those contracting companies, Bepauche International, has its offices in Farmington.

“Our pool of teachers can be 500 to 1000 teachers big. We’re ready and willing to fill vacancies,” said Cheryl Marie Maghinay, the co-owner of Bepauche International, via telephone from the Philippines, where she was on a recruiting trip looking for Filipino teachers to send to schools across the U.S.

Maghinay herself was a teacher, immigrating to the U.S. from General Santos city in the Philippines. She got her masters degree in education in the United States, and then taught in Antelope Valley, California, and then on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona.

On the Navajo Nation, Maghinay said she saw the need schools in the U.S. had for teachers, especially in rural schools, so in 2015 she said she started Bepauche International to bring qualified Filipino teachers to the U.S.

“We check to see if our teachers are legitimate,” Maghinay said. The teachers she works with not only have to have a degree in education, and years of experience teaching, but she said she also looks for teachers with a certain amount of familiarity with U.S. culture.

Maghinay then coordinates with school districts in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Florida, Montana, and now New Mexico, for teachers that she vets to conduct interviews with school administrators over video telecommunications apps like Skype.

The Aztec school district isn’t alone in its teacher vacancies problem. School districts throughout the state, and the country, are in dire need of qualified teachers.

A report published in 2018 by New Mexico State University found that there were 740 unfilled public school teacher vacancies throughout the state. Some school districts have tried to fill those positions by hiring more long-term substitute teachers.

The New Mexico State University study points to factors that may explain why there might be so many unfilled teaching positions – comparatively low salaries, working conditions and high work expectations, as well as a high level of stress revolving around job insecurity and a high rate of student testing.

The problem, however, plagues school districts nationwide. A study from the Learning Policy Institute, an education think tank, estimated that the country currently has a shortage of 112,000 teachers.

Maghinay first started working here in the U.S. on a temporary worker visa, called a H-1B visa.

Initially Bepauche worked with Filipino teachers to get them H-1B visas, which allows recipients to stay and work in the country for a maximum of six years, with the option to apply for citizenship while working. But as the Trump administration began its crackdown on immigration, H-1B visas eventually came under scrutiny, and in 2019 32% of H-1 B visas were denied, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services documents released through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Now Bepauche, and numerous international teaching contracting companies across the country, apply for J-1 visas, that technically are for students and teachers participating in “cultural exchange,” programs. The visa can be extended for a maximum of five years, and recipients cannot apply for citizenship or permanent residence.

The end result of the complex process that brings teachers from other countries to San Juan County happens in the classrooms.

Along with teaching her students bits and pieces of the Filipino language, C.V. Koogler Middle School history teacher Albores says when she teaches aspects of world history, she tries to include snippets of Pilipino history into her lesson, and how that history connects and interacts with world history – especially U.S.-Philippine relations.

That subject matter not only includes the American invasion and occupation of the Philippines from 1899 to 1902, but also the establishment of the first public school system by Americans in the Philippines.

“We learn from the culture, but at the same time we share our culture,” says Albores, “Our students are very interested. They ask a lot of questions. It’s a privilege for me to be in a history class, I can share the history of the Philippines.”

“You will learn a lot from here,” said Erika Rose-Cahilig, a fifth grade teacher who is also contracted through Bepauche at Park Avenue Elementary, “There are big opportunities for teachers to learn, at the same time, we will have a chance to share and talk about our culture.”

Maghinay moved to Farmington in 2016 to take on a teaching position at Kirtland Central High School, and, with her, Bepauche moved into a small office on Main street. With that office space, Maghinay built and now co-owns a Filipino grocery store and restaurant attached to her office called Manila Sunrise. It is filled with Filipino snacks, frozen fish, Boba milk tea and a rotating menu of Filipino dishes cooked by Mary Grace Hundumon.

Maghinay hopes that the market can not only serve the needs of San Juan County’s Filipino population, which she described as, “bigger than you think,” but she also hopes that the market can introduce Filipino food and culture to local people.

“In the Philippines rice is the staple food, here it’s a side dish,” said Riva Alipin, an integrated algebra teacher at Aztec High who is also contracted by Bepauche. “We’re slowly adjusting, but we’re gaining weight because of carbs and more calories in the food here.”

Alipin, Rose-Cahilig, Albores, and five other international teachers all live in an apartment complex in Aztec.

They all agree that they are enjoying working in Aztec, but there are adjustments. Other than the cold weather, the teachers are adjusting to the food in Aztec, behavioral problems in their classes, and some still feel a little bit jet lagged from a 14-hour plane ride from the Philippines that ended in Albuquerque the weekend before school started,

“Of course we miss the food, and our family, but it’s okay, through the internet we can contact them anytime,” said Alipin, “but that is the biggest challenge we have to endure, being far away from home.”

Another challenge rarely talked about is the fee each teacher paid to come to Aztec. Bepauche itself charged $4,500 for “service fees.” Another $4,000 went to procuring visa and transcript services, and another $1,500 went toward airplane tickets and other miscellaneous travel costs.

“That’s big money in our country,” said Alipin, “like a half million.”

Albores described having to go into debt to a “loan shark” in the Philippines to help raise the needed funds.

Maghinay acknowledges the high cost, and the debt that most of her clients have to take on to pay it, but, she said, “I paid a lot of money when I first got here, so I try to make our prices fair.” The $10,000 is about half of the total amount of what she said she paid when she came to the U.S.

In 2010 a group of Filipino contract teachers filed a class action lawsuit against the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board, claiming they were cheated out of tens of thousands of dollars and forced into exploitative contracts.

Maghinay stresses that she, and her company, are transparent at the very beginning about the cost of her services.

“I have to protect our teachers,” she said, “I know what they’re going through. I remember I got depression, I couldn’t sleep when I first got to the U.S., I know all of those things. We treat teachers like our own family.”

The contracted teachers interviewed for this story had nothing but praise for both Bepauche and the Aztec school district.

“Here we found a family,” Alipin said, “We are happy to be in Aztec.”

10-30-2019, 12:01 PM
Speed and its impact on education

By: Paolo A. Bolaños - @inquirerdotnet

04:03 AM October 30, 2019

The French theoretician Paul Virilio (1932-2018 ) thinks that “acceleration” or “speed” conditions political and economic power. This means that the intensification of acceleration brings about social, political and economic changes in society. In other words, “societal progress” is conditioned not necessarily by the building of structures and networks, but by the rate or speed of mobility involved in building such structures and networks. Acceleration circumvents the permanence of institutions.

Acceleration comes with a price. It radically alters our sense of time and space, affecting the way we interact with one another and the way we navigate our surroundings. Technological advancements, occasioned by acceleration, have not only impacted our lives by constantly changing the way we move, but have also resulted in practices that hamper our creativities and freedoms. We ignore these damaging practices by conveniently invoking the idea of modern progress.

In the book “The Original Accident,” Virilio speaks of the invention of “artificial accidents” that come with technological inventions. For example, a crisis such as the millennium bug is only real because computers are prone to breakdowns and viruses. Likewise, traffic accidents are only real because of automobiles, and derailments are only real because of trains. These “modern occupational hazards” are caused by our accelerated production of things that alter our living environments.

Judging by the rate of speed we are experiencing, I fear that we are not going to hit the brakes anytime soon. We are forced to catch up — to “keep up with the times,” as they say.

A similar phenomenon is happening in the sphere of Philippine education today. Universities are now obsessed with the total quality management approach, the most palpable instance of which is the adoption of the technical language of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). University administrators now gauge success based on the satisfaction of customers or benefactors in the guise of measurable key performance indicators (KPIs) and key result areas (KRAs). KPIs and KRAs are measured in the classroom in the form of measurable “outcomes” that students must be able to perform in standardized ways.

However, TQM, or quality assurance in the context of education, is focused more on the processes and procedures related to what, I think, are erroneously dubbed as “excellent services” (like teaching or research) and “products” (number of graduates or number of published articles) than on genuine quality. Universities are now being run as if they are corporations or, worse, factories, and as such, they must accelerate the same way as corporations and factories. TQM/QA is preoccupied with the regulation of production hiccups or artificial accidents that derail production efficiency—in other words, “crisis management.”

The ideology of TQM/QA has resulted in the invention of “artificial accountability” and a damaging “culture of audit,” argues Stefan Collini (“Speaking of Universities,” 2017). Meanwhile, Bill Readings quips that the university’s central figure is now the “administrator” and no longer the professor (“The University in Ruins,” 1997). Moreover, Jerry Muller observes that educational institutions today are obsessed with playing the game of metrics, conflating quantity and quality (“The Tyranny of Metrics,” 2018 ).

University ranking mechanisms originally were mere reflections of excellent practices in education. Today, however, the ultima finis of universities is to be ranked, accredited, assessed (or “liked,” to use social media slang). We forget that university education is for the cultivation of culture, the formation of character and the democratization of knowledge. These things require time. Yes, the process is slow!

I jokingly asked my students recently: “When was the last time you’ve participated in anything remotely academic or scholarly in the university? All you see around you are tarpaulins and a hundred nonacademic events happening at the same time! It seems like we don’t have time to be a university!”

Paradoxically, we don’t have time, but we behave in an accelerated and precarious fashion. So, when do we hit the brakes?

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Paolo A. Bolaños, Ph.D., is a professor of philosophy and the former head of the Department of Philosophy, University of Santo Tomas, Manila. He is the founding editor in chief of Kritike: An Online Journal of Philosophy (www.kritike.org). He can be reached at pabolanos@ust.edu.ph.