I don’t think we’ve seen a better regional consultation in Bikol.
But the 220 delegates from all the Bikol Provinces, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon, Catanduanes and Masbate, representing private schools (CEAP, 31; PACU and PAPSCU, 13) and state schools (PASUC, 13), including one stand-alone public and one stand-alone private high school, made it the best ever as they gathered in Villa Caceres Hotel for the “Regional Consultation on the K+12 Educational Reform.” The need was to be informed; the desire was to understand; the challenge was to participate. The Consultation in Naga provided for all of these.
There was need to clearly tell DepEd Manila through COCOPEA whether the schools in Bikol agreed to the K+12 reform program.
First, there was the excellent talk of Dr. Isagani Cruz. He gave an overview of the K+12 reform, its rationale, and the steps taken towards its implementation. Then there was the talk of Dr. Diosdado San Antonio. He focused on the concept and implementation of the Revised Basic Education Curriculum of 2002. I gave a talk on the years to be added, 11 and 12, which has been referred to in the ongoing discussions as “Senior High School,” but which I propose to be called, “Career Academy.” My talk was based on actual planning for a Career Academ with Entrepreneurship at Ateneo de Naga.
After the first two presentations, there were lively discussions of the issues in break-out groups. The Consultation secretariat is still tabulating the output of these break out groups; I will report on these in a future blog.
But the bottom line of the Consultation, however, was that the participants unanimously approve of the K+12 reforms, despite yet unanswered questions, apprehensions and fears. Part of the approval comes from the fact that the reforms are already ongoing, with Kindergarten required as of this year. But the greater part of the approval came from insight into the need to improve the Philippine educational system. Period. Now, under our Education President Nonoy Aquino, with Dr. Patricia Licuanan or CHED, Bro. Armin Luistro, FSC, of DepED, and Joel Villanueva of TESDA not only talking with each other, but agreeing to work together, it is a golden opportunity to move forward on educational reform.
Though there was no time to go into the nitty gritty of curriculum reform in yesterday’s consultation on K+12, the participants’ approval was given to a Framework of reform. This would involve Kindergarten and 12 basic education years, not 13 as is now being implemented in Singapore, and not 14, as is now being offered through “Pre-College” in the United States. The additional two years, and only two years, would be added to Kindergarten plus an enhanced ten years of basic and high school education. The Bicol Consultation agreed that these two years would be sui generis and called “Career Academy” where the students would choose careers with educational implications. It would be governed by DepEd but run in close collaboration with CHED and TESDA. Some students would work after graduation; others would, hopefully, become entrepreneurs after two years, others would go to college.
It was appreciated (or feared) that the Career Academy would in effect pull a lot of today’s students away from the colleges; but it was also appreciated that many students, unable to afford college after graduation, would be able to work first, then enter college when they had saved up enough money for this.
One of the most frequent questions, even in private conversations, was whether a graduate of the work or entrepreneurial stream would be able to eventually enter college. In principle, the answer is yes. But, logically, a person moving into college would have to take and pass the career-education-level general education subjects first, since prepare them for the more challenging general education subjects of college years.
It was refreshing yesterday to hear from Dr. Cruz that the United Nations is convinced that the problem of loss of values in today’s global societies must be solved in the universities and schools. It is in the general education courses that values are taught – or better, formed.
This may be one of the reasons why Dr. Jose Campos of PAPSCU, in a recent meeting on the K+12 legislation, suggested that the boundaries separating the streams of career academy not be rigid “either ors,” but rather a series of “ands.” For example, a person who wants to do a call center career stream, could actually enroll in many more general education courses than required, so that after he has graduated and saved enough through work, he may return to college, and have an easier time qualifying for the college mainstream.
In any case, it was a great consultation in Bicol. The resolve in the end was to approve K+12, meet the challenges, and move forward.