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)
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.
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?
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)
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; ( 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)
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.
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)
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)
( 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.
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)
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.
“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.”