K to 12 and the General Education Curriculum

In the following post, Isagani Cruz continues from his previous post,”HEIs and K to 12“.

K to 12 and GEC

By Isagani Cruz
MINI CRITIQUE, The Philippine Star, March 22, 2012

The second fear that Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) have about the K to 12 reform involves teachers who teach subjects in the General Education Curriculum (GEC). Will these teachers lose their jobs?

To understand why there is nothing to fear, we must review the rationale for the current GEC now being used by all colleges and universities in the Philippines. Unlike any other country, the Philippines requires HEIs to offer almost two years of General Education (GE). HEIs in the USA offer only one year of GE. Most HEIs in Europe do not offer even one year of GE.

Philippine HEIs offer the current GEC for three reasons.

First, HEIs believe that graduates from Philippine high schools are not prepared to go to college. HEIs, therefore, require students to take “tool subjects” or “remedial subjects,” that is, subjects that are meant to make up for what high schools are not able to do.

Second, HEIs are forced by Congress to teach certain subjects or topics that all Filipinos should know. These are called “mandated subjects.” Because these subjects are not related to any professional or major course but are considered of general usefulness to students, they are offered in the GEC.

Third, HEIs believe that all professionals should have a larger worldview than that offered by any specialized field. College graduates tend to hold influential posts in the public and private sectors. To be able to manage the country, their companies, and themselves, college graduates have to know a little bit about all the branches of knowledge, such as the humanities, the sciences, and the social sciences.

Let us review how the current GEC meets these three purposes.

There are two GECs – GEC-A and GEC-B.

GEC-A (taken by students majoring in the humanities, social sciences, or communication) requires 36 units (that is, hours per week for a semester or trimester) divided into 24 units of language and literature, 15 units of mathematics and natural sciences, 6 units of humanities, 12 units of social sciences, and 6 units of mandated subjects. GEC-A was promulgated by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Memorandum Order (CMO) 59, series of 1996.

GEC-B (taken by all other students) requires 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. GEC-B was promulgated by CHED Memorandum (CM) 4, series of 1997.

The new K to 12 curriculum includes all the GEC language, literature, humanities, mathematics, natural sciences, and mandated subjects, as well as most of the social science subjects. In addition, upon the recommendation of its Technical Panel for General Education (TPGE), CHED has come up with a list of College Readiness Standards (CRS) that require college applicants to show evidence of having all the competencies currently being offered in these subjects.

There is, therefore, no longer any need for HEIs to offer most of the subjects now listed in either GEC-A or GEC-B. This removes the first reason for having the current GEC. Teachers teaching these subjects have two options. They can stay in college and teach major subjects, or they can shift to basic education and teach more or less the same GEC subjects. Once they pass the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET) required by law for high school teachers, college teachers need not fear losing their income.

The second reason for the current GEC has to do with the law. In its wisdom, Congress has passed laws that require students to take up, for example, agrarian reform, family planning, National Service Training Program (NSTP), Philippine Constitution, physical education, population education, Rizal, and taxation. These subjects are offered in the first two years of college. Since the 16-year-old and 17-year-old students now assumed to be in the first two years of college will now be assumed to be in the last two years of a 12-year basic education cycle, these mandated subjects are now clearly meant to be in Senior High School (SHS).

There are provisions in the K to 12 bills in Congress that such mandated subjects will be offered in high school rather than in college. There is, therefore, no need for HEIs to offer such subjects once the K to 12 law is passed. Teachers of these subjects will have the same options as those teaching the tool subjects; they can teach major college subjects or they can move to high school.

The third reason for having a GEC is still valid. Students, whether in high school or college, need to know and understand fields other than their own specialization. CHED’s TPGE has come up with a new GEC (for lack of a better name, called Revised GEC or RGEC). RGEC needs to be approved first by CHED; I will not give details about it, except to say that CMO 2, series of 2011, specifies that RGEC will have 36 units for all students regardless of major.

Teachers of GEC, therefore, now have a third option (aside from teaching major subjects or teaching in high school). They can teach subjects in the RGEC. Since the RGEC will be offered only starting June 2018, teachers have plenty of time to prepare for the new subjects. They also have time to take education units to prepare for the LET.

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