Raising the bar: Transforming standards
USC has long been considered as one of the leaders in the implementation of the K to 12 educational reform. As early as 2011, USC was already among a few academic institutions supporting the proposed overhaul of the Philippine Education System.
This dynamic advocacy was backed by USC’s pursuit of a pilot program for Grades 11 and 12. Upon the ratification of Republic Act 10533, the Enhanced Basic Education Act of the Philippines, both basic and higher education units of the university were systematically mobilized to develop a roadmap that would effectively address the transition from the erstwhile 10-year basic education program to the proposed 12-year one.
Senior High instructor Maricel Judilla with students Custodio C. Custodio III, Shannon-Mary Tan, and Angelo Cabiles at Philip van Engelen Building in Talamban Campus.
Republic Act 10533 provided the legal backbone of the reform rationalized in both internal (e.g., learner development, curricular streamlining, etc.) and external (ASEAN integration, globalization, disciplinal accords, etc.) contexts. The ratification and consequent pronouncement of this change carry with it a myriad of different initiatives and programs to operationalize its aims. Basically, three fronts may be readily identified that include the basic education (K to 12), the undergraduate or professional education, and the graduate education. Of these three fronts, basic education has been given the most attention.
Such degree of attention invested in basic education during this time of reform is both expected and understandable because first, basic education is a right. It is imperative that every Filipino citizen is given the chance to have access to quality basic education. Second, basic education is preparatory and formative in nature. This means that immediate changes should be implemented in the lower levels of education first and should be followed by and continued through both undergraduate and graduate levels.
Finally, the Philippines is one of the few countries that has a very specific teacher education program for early childhood, elementary, and secondary levels. The changes associated with the reform inadvertently carry with it juxtaposed demands in teacher training and policy development. On the top of that, the Department of Education is, in terms of number of personnel, the largest government agency making it very visible and unintentionally conspicuous.
The new basic education curriculum marks itself with six features, namely (1) strengthening of early childhood education through universal kindergarten, (2) making the curriculum relevant through contextualization and enhancement, (3) ensuring integrated and seamless learning through spiral progression, (4) building proficiency through language with mother-tongue-based multilingual education, (5) gearing up for the future through the implementation of two additional academic years or senior high school, and (6) nurturing the holistically-developed Filipino through the development of livelihood and college readiness with 21st century skills.
Two curricular exits for the Grade 12 graduate are identified. The first exit, which is to proceed to higher education, has already been ingrained in Philippine culture. As for the second exit, that is to seek skill-based employment, there has been an ongoing campaign to strengthen technical-vocational offerings. Dialogue is going on among stakeholders that include regulatory offices, industry partners, and the academe that will hopefully translate into an effective and efficient tripartite partnership.
Given these developments, the basic education front therefore not only addresses the need of the Philippines for equivalence and mobility of basic education certification across different nations, but also addresses internal realities such as learners’ growth and progress, skilled workforce development, and pre-university preparation enhancements.
The most notable feature of the transition program is the creation of the Senior High School (SHS) unit of USC that officially commenced this current academic year 2016–2017. USC currently offers both Technical-Vocational Track (TVL) in Hotel and Restaurant Services (HRS) and Academic Tracks with strands on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM); Accountancy, Business and Economics (ABM); Humanities and Social Sciences (HUMSS); and Arts and Design (A&D).The selection of the offered strands was systematically formulated to align with the current higher education curricular offerings of USC. This strategy ensures program alignment especially if students decide to proceed to higher education. To date, USC-SHS caters to approximately 1,400 Grade 11 students ably handled by a roster of nearly 70 competent teachers with relevant experiences and advanced degrees.
USC’s commitment to deliver high quality and relevant education is explicitly incorporated in the operationalization of the educational reform.
First, the curricular implementation of Grade 11 is set to follow the prescribed intended outcome of the Department of Education. This means that levels from Kindergarten to Grade 10 will also improve both in content and pedagogy as they contribute to the curricular targets of Grade 11.
Second, all strand component courses have been meticulously arranged and elective courses are methodically developed using research-based data to ensure that the collective experience of students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 is indeed preparatory to their chosen higher education program of study. For our TVL program, work-related competencies pertinent to hotel and restaurant services are ably delivered by NC-II accredited instructors to ensure that students in this track are taught appropriate skills for employment or entrepreneurship upon program completion.
Third, academic support units have been deployed and are currently being reorganized to complement student academic-based programs and initiatives in order to deliver a holistic service to the entire basic education clientele.
All of these advantages are afforded to USC basic education students in an environment that fosters excellence in their respective disciplines (Scientia), formation of nobility of character (Virtus), and constant reiteration of the spirit of service (Devotio).
Knowing our current reform operationalization, we expect to roll out developments in the near future to further strengthen our brand and to sustain continued leadership in basic education innovation and progress. These developments include a mutually beneficial industry-academe partnership, infrastructure development, curricular standardizations, academic processes optimizations such as course equivalences and validations, institutional accreditations, and basic education research among others.
Members of the Carolinian community are welcome to contribute in this endeavor.
by Richard R. Jugar, Ph.D. (Director, Basic Education Department)
Tags: Senior High School