New General Education Curriculum’s Unperceived Possible Drawbacks
December 13, 2014
‘In a world of infinite choice people are struggling to figure out what to do.‘ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Months ago, nationwide protests reverberated among alarmed members of the academic communities and educational institutions when the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) issued the Memorandum (CMO) No.20, series of 2013 outlining the newly proposed general education for colleges and universities with the subject “General Education Curriculum: Holistic Understanding, Intellectual and Civic Competencies. It stipulates the teaching of the 24 units’ core courses namely: Philippine History, Purposive Communication Arts, Art Appreciation, Contemporary World, Mathematics in the Modern World; Science, Technology and Society and Ethics with the addition of Life’s and Works of Jose Rizal. This scheme primarily seeks to reduce the usual higher number of units in the General Education curriculum (GEC) courses to avoid students’ repetition of GE courses in college through by being incorporated in the Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) of the K-12 brought about by the two- year extension of the Basic Education. Additionally, the CHED memorandum does not only stipulate Filipino as the lone course to be affected but even basic subjects like English, General Psychology and Basic Microeconomics among others will be transferred in the secondary level. In turn, Filipino college instructors and professors whose subjects will be transferred to the basic curriculum can still teach some subjects to be assigned to them as mandated by the college or university institution they are affiliated through teaching the newly prescribed GE courses with the use of the Filipino language. I find this solution contradictory to the significance of the students’ high English language proficiency which our educational system wants to achieve. The goals that represent their proposed move expresses that, “higher education is not only to develop graduates in a particular field, but also well-rounded individuals who appreciate knowledge in a general sense, are open minded because of it, secure in their identities as individuals and as Filipinos, and cognizant of their role in life of the nation and the larger community.” The goals and objectives are envisioned to establish a connective flow of the K-12 as a basic education in preparation for their college education where new GEC awaits them less than two academic years from now. In a positive standpoint, students and parents win over this proposal. The fact that college students soon will no longer extend time to finish their degrees for having already completed the subjects in the 2- year extension from their senior high school which cut the costs of parents expenditures in sending their children to school. Also with regards to employability, it was earlier deliberated that k-12 graduates by the future integration of Technical Education Skills Development Authority’s (TESDA) technical specializations during their last 2 years will qualify them for Technical-vocational jobs should they opt not to pursue degrees from any of the three tracks they have earned. These tracks are academic, technical-vocational livelihood; and sports and arts. With the kind of vision the educational system has today, it builds an impression that the K-12 learners are empowered to achieve strong foundations. The CHED’s main objective here is to align the educational reforms of K-12 to the tertiary levels. However, with the future implementation of this, there are still conceivable drawbacks which the CHED has to figure out. Because of the foreseen hitches by the concern teaching force in the academic community, gestures of objections reverberated, flooding the CHED with challenges.
Protesters claimed too that refurbishing the educational system from k-12 to college should not be the priority of the government for the meantime instead, the budget allotted for higher education’s curricular revamp should be used to basically resolve the growing problems in the Philippine schools on shortages of classrooms and teachers. They also asserted that the new curriculum produces lots of complications when problems on faculty and facilities aren’t fundamentally addressed.
Many protesters find this commission’s move as absurd and drastic for not conducting proper consultations from other educational bodies who may participate in pointing out some overlooked flaws. To them, curriculum when formulated is a nationwide affair. It needs intensive discussions that will take time for its initial stage’ preparations before being employed. A curriculum design is not an overnight concept capable to be applied automatically after a day it was conceptualized for the reason that it is an undertaking that calls for inter- organizational involvement of all concern academic communities in the conduct of intensive study and further inquisitions for its viability. Filipino subject faculty protesters who form mostly of the distraught groups regarding the commission’s proposal further claimed that it is an unconstitutional deed having violated Article XI, section 6 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution which demands that “government shall take steps to initiate and sustain the use of Filipino as a medium of official communication and as a language of instruction in the educational system.
What lies ahead?
It is a big question how aligned is the CHED to their goals. To the activists, it is ironic when a subject like Filipino language that represents Filipino identity is to be moved down to another level. Many were alarmed that the Subjects like Sining ng Komunikasyon among other basic Filipino courses that enable speaking, listening, reading and writing comprehensions of learners are to be allocated in the K-12. Panitikang Filipino that introduces dire appreciation to our country’s literary heritage is to be overshadowed or replaced by other general subjects in the tertiary’s curriculum which to them should be generally learned by Filipino students to be repetitiously emphasized by teachers from the lower to higher dimensions of learning processes; meaning, these subjects shouldn’t be altered in all learning levels.
The proposed educational move according to the objecting groups is a form of disrespect to the Philippine heritage through its failure to prioritize its language as stipulated in the country’s constitution. The spread of nationalism is primarily through students’ native language education where they can use it prolifically. It rebuffs the true Filipino identity and the intellectual capacities of educators to teach the native language of the country where breed of writers could be developed in the expansion of literary arts in building a unique identity as a nation. Contrary to the US and other countries, their curricula retain their languages as prerequisites to learning courses and have even extended their languages to other countries to acculturate people.
As a member of the academe for almost 26 years, I can foresee the future of a gradually dying educative process due to the weaknesses of empowering our contemporary students through indecisive overhauling of the curriculum overseeing other pertinent problems in the country’s educational structure. The educative process is like fading flames leading towards students’ murky path on knowledge acquisitions due to the abrupt paradigm shifts of the educational system. Language like Filipino and English are academic disciplines that are crucial to comprehensions of knowledge in any field and as a consequence of aligning the K-12 curriculum to Higher education’s curricula, these subjects are forfeited in a way that these are replaced by other reinvented disciplines. Both subjects aside from other GE courses have been displaced into a stage where learners aren’t yet ready to be engrossed with their contents. Theories and principles of language learning emphasize that mastery of the language are done by repetitions and exposures for conditioning to be processed in right stages and situations. Functional learning reinforcement ceases due the proposed educational reforms. It intervenes the usual continues and expert academic roles of college and university professors who are entities of educators in wiping-out language crisis confronting the country’s majority of learners through their masters and doctorate with other forms of continuing education updates.
In the cordillera alone, students find difficulty in speaking Filipino of which they need underpinnings in order to penetrate in the national industry as far as Visayas and Mindanao. We have to be aware that the language in the country’s media, entertainment outfits and majority of corporations utilize Filipino to reach the audience and to deal with clients, respectively. Lots of cordilleran populace possess potentials but could hardly penetrate the national markets due to their incompetence of our native national language. To elucidate, there are lots of cordillerans who are capable to break into motion picture industries and in the print and broadcasting companies but are disqualified for their inability to use its authentic accent and its grammar structures in written compositions. This should be the educational era wherein the native language will be best taught in-depth under the tertiary level where trending courses like police and political sciences, media (newspapers, radio, television and cinema), tourism among others, require graduates’ efficient command of the Filipino language to excellently penetrate in the job markets.
On the other hand, the English subjects should they be merged with the basic education produces drawbacks for the reason that, the English language is a medium of all knowledge acquisitions. In as far as global competitiveness is one of the visions of the CHED, its possible reduction in the college new GEC can demote the abilities of the students towards second language acquisitions if intensive learning of the language remains in the K-12 level since majority of high school graduates cannot display satisfactory English language performance when they enter college education. It would be great if these English language subjects learned by K-12 be carried-out in the new GEC to form stronger foundations as they make their way out of college for lots of disciplines constantly necessitate English as a medium to acquire instructions yielded by the trending breakthroughs of technology that produces English language-related national and international career opportunities nowadays.
As of this time, academicians are in silent protest but their hush don’t necessarily mean the whole academic populace conforms with the CHED’s memo. While they are taking time to move against this memorandum, they need to identify the final decisions of the country’s higher educational email@example.com