The Uni­ver­si­ties af­ter K to 12

Sun.Star Davao - - OPINION - Rhod­er­ick Abel­lanosa

FI­NALLY, the long wait is over and the first grad­u­ates of the coun­try’s K12 pro­gram have now com­menced univer­sity life. The one big ques­tion that has been wait­ing for an an­swer is: are uni­ver­si­ties and col­leges ready?

Each univer­sity of course would an­swer the ques­tion with fire and con­vic­tion: “yes we are!” I have been a wit­ness to a num­ber of pre­sen­ta­tions by ad­mis­sion of­fi­cers, li­aisons and mar­ket­ing staff from dif­fer­ent uni­ver­si­ties. Their power point pre­sen­ta­tions were well made. As a mat­ter of fact, all of them were at their best: flow­charts, frame­works, and jar­gons. They all claim with un­wa­ver­ing faith that their univer­sity pre­pares in­com­ing ter­tiary stu­dents for a glob­ally com­pet­i­tive 21st cen­tury ed­u­ca­tion!

When we speak of Philip­pine ed­u­ca­tion in gen­eral how­ever, and ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion in par­tic­u­lar, we do not just have in mind one univer­sity – this or that univer­sity. Ed­u­ca­tion in the whole coun­try is (or should be) a sys­tem. As such it must op­er­ate in co­or­di­na­tion with each other in the light of a much big­ger blue­print. It is a nor­ma­tive pre­sump­tion of course that for the sys­tem to run reg­u­larly, the blue­print is clear and im­ple­mentable in all level or phases within the sys­tem. Un­for­tu­nately while cer­tain if not some uni­ver­si­ties and col­leges have truly pre­pared them­selves for the in­com­ing aca­demic year, oth­ers have not, and the whole ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem in higher ed­u­ca­tion is not.

To prove that the fore­go­ing point is not counter-fac­tual, let us con­sider some (pub­licly-known) in­for­ma­tion. Let us be­gin with the is­sue of bridg­ing pro­gram. There are uni­ver­si­ties that strictly re­quire stu­dents to take a bridg­ing pro­gram.

A STEM grad­u­ate for ex­am­ple who would like to en­roll in Ac­count­ing would be re­quired to take at least 12 units of ad­di­tional cour­ses in col­lege. This is to ad­dress the stu­dent’s non-align­ment to the pre­ferred col­lege de­gree pro­gram. Un­for­tu­nately, this is not a stan­dard pol­icy among uni­ver­si­ties and col­leges.

Cer­tain schools trust or rely in their en­trance exam. If an ap­pli­cant passed their exam, he is el­i­gi­ble for ad­mis­sion to the univer­sity re­gard­less of strand align­ment. In fact, there is a med­i­cal school that ad­mits an ABM grad­u­ate with­out ask­ing the stu­dent to take up bridg­ing sub­jects in bi­ol­ogy or chem­istry.

An­other is­sue: the so-called Gen­eral Ed­u­ca­tion (GE) or “mi­nor sub­jects.” Ap­par­ently, the Com­mis­sion on Higher Ed­u­ca­tion (CHED) has repack­aged some of the course of­fer­ings in col­lege. Cer­tain sub­jects have not been in­cluded in the list of GE cour­ses. Phi­los­o­phy of the Hu­man Per­son for ex­am­ple used to be a com­mon course but has now been re­placed by Ethics un­der the post-K12 col­lege cur­ricu­lum. But there is a se­ri­ous ques­tion on the pre­pared­ness of the in­struc­tors in the ter­tiary level.

Are the ter­tiary in­struc­tors ready to face Senior High grad­u­ate with ad­di­tional two years ex­pe­ri­ence? We may pre­sume that col­lege teach­ers have been do­ing their stuff as ex­perts since they started teach­ing. They should keep in mind though that they have been do­ing the same thing with High School grad­u­ates two years less of train­ing, skills, and knowl­edge in terms of course con­tent. Hope­fully, it will not be busi­ness as usual in col­lege. Hope­fully, our in­struc­tors are now ready with their reengi­neered in­struc­tion strate­gies as well as augmented prepa­ra­tions in terms of les­son con­tent. This means that a re­view should have been made to avoid the rep­e­ti­tion of some fa­mil­iar top­ics.

Take the case again of Phi­los­o­phy of the Hu­man Per­son and Ethics. There is a ten­dency, ba­si­cally, for teach­ers in col­lege to be­gin their dis­cus­sion in Ethics with a def­i­ni­tion of phi­los­o­phy. Ethics af­ter all is a branch of phi­los­o­phy. Other les­son con­tents that could pos­si­bly be re­peated are the branches of phi­los­o­phy and phi­los­o­phy’s his­tor­i­cal time­line.

Should these top­ics be re­peated in col­lege? Isn’t Senior High sup­pos­edly a stream­lin­ing mech­a­nism in prepa­ra­tion for ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion? Grant­ing for the sake of ar­gu­ment that cer­tain lessons can­not but be re­peated, to what ex­tent should they be given fo­cus? Should a col­lege in­struc­tor dis­cuss the def­i­ni­tion of phi­los­o­phy for more than one meet­ing?

We know, ob­vi­ously, that this isn’t just a case of phi­los­o­phy. Our fresh­men col­lege stu­dents will be greeted once more by their most fa­vorite sub­jects in High School: PE, Filipino, and now with the ad­di­tional cast of Jose Rizal (good for units).

Some schools may have pre­pared them­selves (for sure) to en­sure the de­liv­ery of the qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion they promised. But pre­cisely the ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem is a “sys­tem,” and schools must not be left un­guided by the Com­mis­sion on Higher Ed­u­ca­tion on the pre­text of au­ton­omy or lib­er­al­ism.

Lack of space pre­vents us from talk­ing about other is­sues. We can only hope and pray that our ed­u­ca­tional re­forms will truly pre­pare the fu­ture gen­er­a­tion for life’s greater chal­lenges in the 21st cen­tury and be­yond.

When the K12 pro­gram started in 2016, many schools, uni­ver­si­ties in­cluded, said that they were “K12 ready”. Or so they thought. I hope we can speak of the same readi­ness in an equal in­ten­sity and con­vic­tion as we move for­ward with the ed­u­ca­tional re­form.

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