The Universities after K to 12
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.