New General Education Curriculum’s Unperceived Possible Drawbacks

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  organization./


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