K+12, by any other name, is 2 more years

Isagani Cruz

“What can schools do to prepare for K to 12?” Columnist Isagani Cruz writes. And then he proceeds on the rather inconsequential nomenclature options — read the reprinted copy of his column below.

Rather than dwell on the superficial, what we need is an objective (let’s stay factual and use actual numbers on the books) discussion of:
  • the current state of Philippine education, K+10
  • the perceived problems as reflected in the latest assessments of students’ knowledge and skills
  • the state of student achievement
  • the state of teaching
  • the state of the current curricula, and finally
  • how we can achieve a rather balanced “tweaking” of all of the above factors to improve the educational output which consists of those graduating from high school.

Mr. Cruz mentions DepEd’s intention to tailor the the curricula for the additional 2 years of Senior High according to “institutional capability, acceptability to students/parents, and relevance to local context.” With the increasing mobility of our labor force (some of them wind up with the OFW), I think the plan to offer electives to cater to “local needs” is perhaps a wee bit wishful thinking considering that the Filipino is a free spirit attracted by the lure/challenge of discovering/conquering “other places”. I thought TESDA already provides those options.

Oh, well, here’s Mr. Cruz’s stuff:

School options

What can schools do to prepare for K to 12?

The Department of Education (DepEd) has recommended several actions that schools can do to comply with the new curriculum.

According to DepEd, “different types of schools may model Senior High beginning this June,” but “it is important to consider institutional capability, acceptability to students/parents, and relevance to local context.”

Let us look at that directive closely.

First of all, it is clear that there are different types of schools. In fact, the Commission on Higher Education(CHED) has an even more elaborate description (called a “typology”) of these types. DepEd names only three general types: high schools without college departments, high schools with college departments, and colleges without high schools. For convenience, let us call these types A, B, and C, respectively.

Type A schools (high schools that do not have college students on their campuses) can simply add the two years that make up Senior High.

Type B schools (high schools that have college students on their campuses) can add Senior High. These schools may call the added two years by any other name (Junior College, Career Academy, College Preparatory, Pre-Baccalaureate, whatever), since, as Shakespeare said, a rose by any other name is still a rose.

Type C schools (Higher Educational Institutions or HEIs that offer only college courses) can add a Senior High.

DepEd adds the three conditions of capability, acceptability, and relevance. Let us see how these conditions apply to each of these types.

A Type A school needs to build schoolrooms and to hire teachers, assuming that it has only enough schoolrooms for its current needs and all its teachers are already overworked. (There is no such animal as a teacher who is not overworked.)

A Type A school needs a lot more money than it now has to comply with K to 12. Because that money will come from parents, parents will have to agree with the expansion plan. If the parents do not agree or if the school cannot add schoolrooms (for example, if the buildings cannot have extra floors or the campus is too small), then the students will have no choice but to move to another school for their Senior High. (When parents see how much of a hassle that is, they will agree.)

A Type B school has fewer problems with K to 12. All it has to do is to assign some of its current college classrooms to Senior High. Teachers of General Education (GE) college courses can teach many of the Senior High subjects, provided they pass the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET). The school has to hire only a few more teachers for the subjects in Senior High that are not the same as the GE subjects.

A Type C school has more problems. Right now, such a school reports only to CHED or, if it has technical courses, to TESDA. Now, it will have to report also to DepEd and, if it does not have technical courses right now, to TESDA. Like a Type B school, it will have to make its teachers pass the LET. It will also have to hire high school teachers for the subjects in Senior High that are not the same as the GE subjects.

Let us talk about relevance to local needs.

What does DepEd mean by “local needs”? DepEd gives the example of a high school in a community that relies primarily on fishing. The Senior High in that community has to offer electives in fishing. Similarly, a high school situated in a ship-building community will have to offer welding as an elective. A school in a community with a number of call centers should offer English electives in Senior High.

A Type A school will have the easiest time of all, because it most likely already responds to local needs. Many public schools in communities that need very specialized skills (for example, agriculture, fishing, welding, dressmaking) already offer such electives. A Senior High will merely add hours and coordinate with TESDA for technical electives.

A Type B school will also probably already have the facilities for electives appropriate to local needs. If not, this school will have to spend for rooms, equipment, and teachers.

A Type C school need not have facilities for technical-vocational subjects, because its Senior High students will obviously be college-bound. Nevertheless, some subjects in college courses such as Hotel and Restaurant Management and IT will need to be certified by TESDA, since they will now be classified as high school subjects.

About the LET. All high school teachers need a license. I suggest that HEIs offer education units to their GE teachers and to make these teachers take the LET. It is a very good idea anyway for all college teachers to take education subjects. As students will confirm, it is one thing for a teacher to know his or her subject matter and quite another thing to be able to facilitate student learning in that subject. Teaching is as much a profession as being a medical doctor, a writer, an engineer, a lawyer, or a social scientist. Like all professions, teaching needs explicit professional training; you can get that only from education courses, not from experience. (To be continued)

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