“Senior High School.” Or: “Career Academies”?

I was late to Facebook, later to Twitter, and latest to Blogging. But better late than never.

I have no idea about where this blog will lead me. Nor exactly about what I’ll be blogging about. But that’s supposed to be part o the deal of this thing, isn’t it? Not everything needs to be planned, and not everything needs to be in perfect shape.

Amen.

**Education Reform

For the meantime, the focus will be on educational reform in the Philippines. So much is going on. Perhaps this blog will help me to clarify and share my reflections on it. And invite others to do similarly.

Under President Noynoy Aquino, who ran as an “Education President,” we suddenly have a welcome “window for change” in educational reform. With his appointment of Bro. Armin Luistro, FSC, as Secretary of the Department of Education (DepED) , and of Dr. Patricia Licuanan as the Chair of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), we suddenly have two key government officials who are not only talking with each other, but in broad strokes agreeing with each other. There is also excellent rapport with the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) under its President, Fr. Greg Bañaga, CM, and Executive Director, Dorris Ferrer, as well as with the Coordinating Council of the Private Educational Associations in the Philippines (COCOPEA) under its current President, Dr. Ben Malayang of Silliman University.

**Two More Years in Basic Education: K+12

The focus of the current flurry of activity is the recognition that this country lacks two years of basic education. Under the Aquino administration, there is finally recognition that correcting this problem means adding two years not to tertiary education (or variations of this like a “Pre-College” under the CHED), but to basic education. Thus, to a required pre-school kindergarten (K), the resolve is to add two years to the existing 10. Therefore the shortcut: K+12.

There were those who suggested earlier that we add one year to the existing primary education and a second year to the existing secondary education, or: K+7+5. This suggestion has meanwhile been set aside in favor of a clearer, less invasive, less costly K+6+4+2. Adding two years on top of an enhanced 10 years of basic education is the most elegant way of correcting the deficit.

Much work is already going into “enhancing” the first ten years. This will involve taking advantage of studies made on curriculum enhancement in the past, and applying what is relevant to the current reform. It will involve trying to simplify all the material our pupils need to deal with. We will have opportunity to discuss this in later blogs.

**Senior High School. Or: “Career Academy”?

It is in the two years that shall be added to the system that we have a genuine opportunity for creative leadership in education in the Philippines.

Bro. Armin has called these two years “Senior High School” (SHS).

The idea, happily, is not just to create a “Pre-College” which will give all its participants the impression that they are all really meant to go to college.

For Bro. Armin, SHS is, on the one hand, an array of educational activities that will allow the student at 18 years of age to work , get married, and raise a family after graduation. Benefitting from coordinative dialogues with industry, the SHS will prepare students for employment after its two years. Already, dialogues with employers and industry are calling forth willingness to employ SHS graduates. For these graduates and their parents the proposed educational reform will mean not “plus two” but “minus two.” They will be employable after only two years of SHS, not four years of college. Therefore, in real time, minus two years.

On the other hand, SHS, is an array of educational activities that will prepare a pupil for college. Until the architects of the enhanced curriculum give planners of SHS better projections on how pupils will finally be prepared for SHS through the enhanced K+10, these activities might be determined by what shall be required for tertiary-level General Education.

For now, there seems to be no way of avoiding two streams in the SHS: the first to prepare for careers that do not need college preparation, e.g., call centers, business-processing, basic entrepreneurship, office management; the second to prepare for careers that require college preparation, e.g. engineering, law, medicine, teaching. Both streams are dealing with career preparation.

Thus, my suggestion that the added two years be called not “Senior High School” but “Career Academy” (CA).

This will take the new institution away from the high school environment, which is necessarily “below” the collegiate, even though the CA shall still be administered or supervised by the Department of Education. It will be an institution in its own right that can be defined as parallel to the current college system. Should the senior high schools eventually have to be populated by teachers coming from the tertiary level, the movement will be lateral, not downward. It will also be free from the compensation scales of both the high school and the college in order to determine its own rates.

We discussed this recently in a committee meeting headed by Drs. Rey Vea of Mapua, Tina Padolina of Centro Escolar, and Rhoda of Baguio Colleges on Grades II and 12 (Dec 2, 2010). When we shared the idea that afternoon with the COCOPEA Board, this seemed to be a welcome suggestion.

**Pilot It.

Since we are creating in the CA a completely new and exciting level in Philippine Education, the more concrete we become in conceptualizing it, the better. This may involve allowing selected schools the permission to pilot these CAs. But more about this in a future blog.

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About Joel Tabora, S.J.

Jesuit. Educator
This entry was posted in Philippine Educational Reform and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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