Career Academy with Entrepreneurship

One of the most exciting things about the K+12 is the addition of two years to the present K+10.

I have suggested that Years 11 and 12 be called “Career Academy” instead of Senior High School or Pre-College; in this article I use “Career Academy” in this sense. This would allow the educational phase to develop its own culture, distinct from both high school and college.

One of the reasons why this is important is so that it might be defined as roughly equivalent to what is now first and second year college. This would allow current college teachers of relevant disciplines to move “laterally” into the Career Academy, with no diminution in prestige or remuneration. For HEIs with high schools, this can be rather crucial in personnel management. For HEIs without high schools, it may be an invitation to found a new, distinct, and private Career Academy.

In the implementation of K+12, having Career Academics ready appears critical.

Last December, in a COCOPEA Committee headed by Dr. Rey Vea of Mapua on the implication of the Career Academy on the HEI, the members were asked to get concrete and conceptualize a Career Academy with a particular focus.
For this blog I will describe the output of some senior educators at the Ateneo de Naga University: the Career Academy with Entrepreneurship. This is an example which we offer as a concrete example of what a Career Academy might look like – especially for those on the DepEd Technical Panel for curriculum in Career Academy.

First, the general structure. We assume that in the Career Academy one can opt for a track that leads the students to fruitful work after two year. In this case, this is the entrepreneurship track. Here a block of “career” courses would be complemented by some general education courses, to which additional general education courses required by the mission of the school are added.

In the same Career Academy one could also opt for a track that leads to college.

Let us first consider the entrepreneurship track leading to work after two years. There are 97 units foreseen, 84 of which are lecture units and 13 of which are lab units. These include subjects such as “Scanning the Business Environment,” “Discovering New Products and Businesses,” and “Business Law and Taxation.” The general education courses require 24 units. These include such courses as “Business Mathematics and Statistics,” “Business English 1 &2,” “Business Ethics and Labor Education.” The Jesuit core courses require 12 units, including such as “Christology,” and “Christian Vocation: Marriage and Family Life.” Roughly two thirds are career oriented, one third is general. The proposal goes into a semester by semester distribution of these 97 units; the entrepreneurship courses and activities are sequenced, later courses building on pre-requisites.

Parallel to the design for the entrepreneurship track, the Ateneo de Naga senior educatiors also designed a career academy track for pastoral ministry.

The parallel Career Academy track that leads to college requires 79 units, many of which require time-consuming work outside of class. These include such courses as “Developmental Reading 1-4,” “English and Literature,” “Intermediate Algebra” and “Science or Mathematics Electives.” A choice of certain electives, like calculus, may be required by certain career choices like engineering. This would leave 12-units for mission-based requirements as above, “History of Salvation,” “Christology” and the like.

Earlier I said an advantage of creating a whole new phase in the educational system was that that the cultural ethos of the school can be fit to students who are truly preparing themselves to accept their roles in society. Here, the atmosphere is no longer high-schoolish; nor is it collegiate. Here, there is no room for shy, uncommunicative students locked in on themselves. Relative to the high school ethos, students should be more independent, more individually responsible, more self-driven, more communicative. The attitude of the teachers to these students must resonate with students learning to take responsibility for their own lives as well as for the lives of others. Teachers cannot be merely authoritarian; they need to model the values and skills that they wish to share with their students.

If anyone can envisage a better career academy, designing this one shall have fulfilled its purpose.

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About Joel Tabora, S.J.

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

8 Responses to Career Academy with Entrepreneurship

  1. Roger Abarico says:

    That suggestion of yours Fr. Joel with regard to the curriculum for Career Academy was great. With that kind of approach, I can say that the future graduates of that Academy will be more ready to face the real business world. For the sake of the educators, it will be a challenging one but I still believe that it can be a success once there is enough background and expertise on business. We need to empower first and aide our educators before this program be implemented.

    • Well taken, Roger! Empowering our teachers to function in this way is really a challenge of the educational reform effort. For now, let me just say that it would be necessary to draw from resources now available in the tertiary level. Some of the college faculty would have to migrate, hopefully laterally, into the Career Academy, even as others are trained. I think that the Career Academy shall have to function on a level that is equivalent to today’s first and second year of college. It shall resemble college more than high school.

  2. Being an entrepreneur and and a Technology-Entrepreneurship teacher, I may need a year or two (or more) to find out if indeed a significant number of my kids really pursued entrepreneurship (if I made enough sense in class. hahaha!). But my initial asking like “how many of our kids majoring in Entrepreneurship” really became entrepreneurs after graduation gives me figures that saddens me somehow. I remember, on one occasion, Carlo Buenaflor of Bigg’s asked me, “Do you really feel optimistic that we can produce entrepreneurs fresh from college?” This question, until today, bothers me, because for him, maybe, it might be good to ask if someone fresh from college have enough maturity and experience to get into entrepreneurship.

    With the Career Academy, Father, if Carlo’s insight makes sense (as it does to me), I feel challenged as to how we can deliver.

    • You raise valid concerns, for which I certainly do not have all the answers. What I am certain of is this: setting up educational/formation systems where our students dream more about one day “getting a job” is important. Secondly, the community must be supportive of small and medium-sized entrepreneurs. Credit must be made available, and opportunities for small entrepreneurs to get their products on the market must be made available. It certainly does not help the development of entrepreneurs if everyone is practically required to deal with an operation like SM – with its high rental costs, forced cuts into profit, minimum demand on production runs, etc. – and the consumer feels it is only getting “the real thing” if it pays for it in SM. I’ve seen wonderful products created by student entrepreneurs at Ateneo de Naga, but there has been lack of support for these products from the business community. Thirdly, as you and I have discussed, entrepreneurship ideation and “income generating projects” need to go beyond making candy, however valid this may be, especially in a world where huge fortunes are being made in the IT world. Finally, the gap between theories of entrepreneurship and the realities of entrepreneurial competition and struggle need to be overcome. This involves dealing with regulatory laws, real competition, taxes, and the like. One of the biggest entrepreneurs in Naga began by selling raincoats on the street during rainy days – mind you, not on sunny days! For him, the sunny days came later.

  3. Carlo Buenaflor says:

    Hi Fr. Joel, I hope you remember me from Peaberry. Magno suggested that I share my thoughts on the subject. I certainly agree that there should be more support from the community to make the environment more conducive for budding entrepreneurs, but as the marketplace becomes more vicious and cut-throat, fledgling entreps have to be more prepared. Having attended the Masters program for Entrepreneurship at the AIM, I was fortunate to make acquaintances with successful and innovative entreps. The most common traits among the successful entreps in my batch (we were 60 students), were their remarkable interpersonal skills and above average EQ. Skills necessary to lead effectively and sell your product convincingly. These entreps are like psychologists or mind readers if you may, able to sense what the market needs even sometimes before the market realizes they need it. Their high EQs enable them to be more sensitive to their organizations needs, effectively rallying the troops and communicating their dreams clearly. There are different arguments on whether an entrep is born or made. I think it’s a combination, both nature and nurture. A common trait among those entreps as well is work experience. Before they ever conceived a product, they became subordinates and apprentices, learning from their mentors. Experiencing both the good and the bad. Learning what to do and not to do once they became boss’ themselves. While working, they are able to become more market savvy, more sensitive, honing their antennas. Most importantly they are also able to commit mistakes and learn from it and come out of it almost unscathed, mistakes that if committed by an entrep would mean the end of his venture. On the other hand, there have been tales of tycoons that started out as peddlers in the streets, with limited education and work experience.

    • Of course I remember you, Carlo! Thank you for sharing your thoughts; they are all well-taken. I hope my readers read and consider your points. What is the recipe for an entrepreneur? And how is one best cooked. Is he best tossed in the frying pan, or put gently into a slow cooker? Those who are in entrepreneurial education would certainly not disclaim the importance of nature, but their bet is that nurturance has a key role to play in entrepreneural development – precisely because the competitive heat is so “vicious.” I don’t think it realistic to think that one can be an entrpreneur within x years after graduation from Career Academy or BS Entrep or and MA in Entrep. But I do think that even if graduates do get jobs, the true entrepreneurs among them (a matter of heart as well as of interpersonal skills and EQ!) will be restless at these jobs, always competing in their minds with their bosses, espying sassily how they made their silver dollars, plotting and scheming how one day they will make theirs gold!

      • Carlo Buenaflor says:

        Haha, well put fr. Joel. Maybe what an undergraduate degree in BS entrep may do to its graduates is provide them with awareness. Many a time, both fresh grads and experienced executives give entrepreneurship a shot with out understanding its rudiments. This leaves them burned and frustrated when things don’t go as planned, and they never do. Hopefully, an Entrep course will equip it’s graduates with the right tools and skills for success, should they eventually choose the entrep path.

  4. Two great minds! What can I say? Maybe, this discussion is best extended to a forum where we can gather students, teachers, wanna-be-entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs (especially Sir Carlo), and government representatives.

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