by Earlie Doriman
|An ailing education!Is there a bright future |
to look forward to?
I was an educator and I remain to be by heart. Teaching was my first vocation and I am always proud of it. I got my education in the Philippines and practically I have an overview of the old system from primary until college. I taught for nearly 12 years and that experience taught me the best opportunities to enhance my own inadequacies. I truly enjoyed the teaching profession and would constantly cherish the fulfillment it afforded me knowing that as a teacher I was able to touch lives and make a difference to my students’ well-being. In the process I am humbled, that these students have made a difference to my life as well.
I still hope I could go back to teach in my home country. Whilst working in school here in England, it is with full conviction that I have even acquired more compelling experience to share in terms of methods, paradigm, classroom dynamics, and school management. It is indeed a blessing and an eye opener to get this job. A blessing because it is an answered prayer of a decent work and an eye opener because I am able to realize how distant are we left behind in education in terms of vision, paradigm, pedagogy, and curriculum. However, I am very proud to say that Filipino teachers are still amongst the most dedicated servants of education even though the paycheck is miserably low.
Why Support K+12?
The Philippines is one of the few countries with the shortest compulsory formal education, 12 years to be exact - 2 years kindergarten, 6 years primary/elementary, and 4 years secondary. Most high school graduates are then expected to take up college or university courses of their choice whether or not their skill, personality, and capacity fit the chosen field they want to do.
In comparison, England and most countries in the world have 16 years or more of compulsory education – 3 years foundation, 6 years primary, 5 years secondary, and 2 years college. College education is entirely different from university study. Before anyone could take a university degree, he/she has to study in college to find out what career he/she is capable of doing at the university level. It thus serves a rational ground for university candidates to see where their potential could be more useful in the society.
Political Right versus Success
Whilst education is a constitutional right and what course to take up should be a personal choice, the practical reality is that - not everyone is called to become a lawyer, a doctor, an engineer, a teacher, a nurse, computer programmer, amongst others. It is therefore imperative that the model of high school curriculum would be able to recognize skills and aptitude in which students are encouraged and groomed in the field that their capabilities fit them best. The additional two years in the K+12 should underline the importance of career advice and the provision to seriously prepare them for college or university life. Students’ achievement in school is not an option; it requires truthful assessment and proper guidance and therefore educational reforms should also focus on how to make individuals employable and more useful when they graduate.
|The Department of Education is against all odds|
to implement the K+12 system in the SY 2012-2013
In educational philosophy, the core curriculum is the backbone of learning. Being such, it should be designed carefully to meet the needs of students and society. It follows then that if the backbone is poorly made and weak, then the yield would equally inherit the same old flaws. I don’t need to shatter it up about the over-crowded classrooms and dilapidated school buildings. In crude analysis, if the curriculum is no longer efficient, then it has to be reformed and restructured. The current curriculum that majority of the secondary school in the Philippines is using might be good enough during the 60’s or 70’s but I believed it is no longer supporting the needs of students in this generation in terms of acquiring the essential knowledge to prepare them for a supposedly tougher college or university study. At this junction I would say that this curriculum failed badly in its role to develop the full potential of every student and it failed equally in achieving all that the student is capable of.
On the other hand however, there are also private schools in the country that maintain a high standard of secondary education by reforming their respective curriculum. In the same way relevant curricula are used in all science high schools which remarkably produce students who excel in college or university. Sadly, this is a very small number which does not represent the general condition of the secondary curriculum and the overall quality of secondary graduates.
For instance, I feel so humbled to realize that secondary students here in England are already knowledgeable about research methods. They can identify and speak confidently about dependent and independent variables, analyze data from a particular practical which make them ready for proper research work. There is a very wide disparity in the volume of content for science and mathematics subjects and as to how much do we need to catch up is a question so difficult to gauge considering how massive the gap appears to be at the meantime.
The problem is not that Filipino students are not capable to understand, it is rather a failure of the present curriculum to deliver these lessons to them. I always believe in the brainpower of our youths and they have the aptitude to become better but it is a shame that our own curriculum causes its palpable collapse and our educational backbone deprives them to obtain the critical knowledge.
Here in England, biology, chemistry, and physics are taught since year 7 (first year high school) until year 11 (senior high school). The extensive lessons in these basic sciences underline the gap between the knowledge obtained by Filipino students in the same subjects against their English counterparts. First year students have already a superior foundation in science and are continuously strengthened throughout the secondary years. The Philippine curriculum would fail badly in Mathematics as well. For the entire four years in high school, we only have six (6) Maths subjects including electives running against twelve (12) Maths subjects for English students. Naturally, if these two groups are compared and assessed – one has more information whilst the other has less.
This thorough preparation is further evaluated and enhanced during their two year college and their performance would speak about their suitability to a particular university degree. On the other hand, our high school graduates are not categorized according to suitability and are not guided properly for their future career. Mostly, they could enroll to any college/university course either as a personal interest or as a parental prescription.
Paradigm of Teaching
Methodology and teaching strategy should not be a matter of wealth and poverty. Whilst developed countries are able to acquire the best resources to support methods of instruction, developing countries like the Philippines could still deliver the subject matter by sheer ingenuity and resourcefulness. This might be a very tall order for the poorest communities which need a complete second look, but for most public secondary schools there are available means to effectively assemble knowledge. Experiential learning is what this generation appreciates. Introduce more practical works in the classroom instead of writing too many things to memorize. This is one area of teaching and learning where we fare very poorly. Rote memorization does not develop critical thinking. Effective planning for simple but relevant experiments provides a wider avenue for the students to understand and learn efficiently.
|Secondary students in the Philippines|
(Photo from yahoo images)
Teachers have to remind themselves over and again that the character of the present generation of students is visual and interactive. Their attention span is very short and for a one-hour class teachers should employ activities which are worthwhile and interesting. Active learning strategy is working brilliantly in the developed nations and this approach should be completely understood and applied thoroughly to our students. A country does not have to be wealthy to do this.
Quality of Students
On a positive note, Filipino students are amongst the brightest in the world. Evidently, even with inadequate training and resources in public schools, our students are still able to compete internationally. Aside from that, most of the Filipino students are hardworking, exploratory, resourceful, respectful, and polite. Their drive to succeed is overwhelming and regardless of the hardships and challenges they encounter day by day, their desire to get education is immeasurable. That is one thing that makes me very proud about our students. The fervor and passion to graduate is so critical in the learning process too.
Look, students in England are so privileged in almost all aspects in their primary and secondary studies – free of the essential materials in schools, books, notebooks, pens, pencils, folders, papers, amongst others and even meals for poor children. Almost everything is served on a silver platter. But based on my observation most of them do not have the determination and dedication to compete and excel, except for the gifted and highly motivated. The reasons maybe diverse but one that I could suggest is the fact that they don’t need to exert their best to pass the subject since the system does not fail them anyway.
In general comparison; given the same resources, reforms, responsive curriculum and time frame, there is no doubt to say that our secondary graduates could be amongst the best in the world. Having said that, I find the K+12 a very intelligent reform to put forward the standard of our secondary education and level-up the quality of our young people.