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UPD’s GE and the K-12: some scenarios

Dr. Dina Ocampo, dean of the
College of Education.

(November 13)—No new freshmen will be enrolled at UP Diliman and other institutions of higher learning in the country from 2018-2019 as a consequence of the implementation of the Department of Education’s (DepEd) K-12 Program.

The K-12 Program (K-12) prescribes kindergarten and 12 years of basic education comprising six years in the primary level, four years of junior high school and two years of senior high school, according to the Official Gazette.

Other than this obvious outcome however, are other urgent concerns that have bearing on UPD’s General Education (GE) program that must be addressed even before the first batch of K-12 graduates arrive. These concerns were discussed at the UPD General Education Conference 2012 held from October 18-19 at the National Institute of Physics.

“We stand now at the threshold of change, especially with the implementation of the K-12 Program, the effects of which we will begin to feel in four short years. Planning and preparation in this regard should be carried out as soon as possible,” noted UPD Chancellor Caesar A. Saloma in a message read by Dr. Benito M. Pacheco, Vice Chancellor for Research and Development.

Stressing the importance of the GE program, Saloma also pointed out that these GE courses “are crucial for laying the foundation for critical, creative and independent thinking necessary for expertise.”

The K-12, on the other hand, seeks “to provide sufficient time for mastery of concepts and skills, develop lifelong learners and prepare graduates for tertiary education, middle level-skills development and entrepreneurship.” Currently, Congress has assured that the K-12’s enabling law, House Bill 6643 or the Revised Education Reform Act of 2012, will be passed on its final reading in November, according to the Manila Bulletin.

“At the end of 12 grades, they are supposed to develop learners who are integrative, who are savvy with information, (have) media and technology skills, effective communication and life career skills,” Dr. Dina Ocampo said, reiterating the DepEd.

The dean of the College of Education, Ocampo put the issue in clearer focus in the paper “K-12 and the UPD GE Program.” Walking the participants through the K-12, Ocampo said there were four paths for graduates to choose from: higher education, middle skills development, entrepreneurship and direct employment.

She listed six expectations from a K-12 graduate. The first is to “produce all forms of texts (e.g. written, oral, visual, digital) based on solid grounding on Philippine experience and culture; an understanding of the self, community and the nation; competency in formulating ideas/arguments logically, scientifically and creatively; and clear appreciation of one’s responsibility as a citizen of a multicultural Philippines and a diverse world.”

The other expectations include: “systematically apply knowledge, understanding, theory and skills for the development of the self, local and global communities using prior learning, inquiry and experimentation; work comfortably with relevant technologies and develop adaptations and innovations for significant use in local and global communities; communicate with local and global communities with proficiency, orally, in writing and through new technologies of communication; and interact meaningfully in a social setting and contribute to the fulfillment of individual and shared goals, respecting the fundamental humanity of all persons and the diversity of groups and communities.”

With the lofty expectations, she however cautioned: “(T)hough the default is that they will come to us from the higher education stream, we actually could get students who are not from the higher ed(ucation) stream. What we need to figure out is how we are going to help them make up for that.”

Ocampo briefly discussed what she called the “game changers” or drivers that impact on UPD’s GE program, such as national development and employment related matters; globalization; academic leadership and directions for the university; failures; and information and communication technologies.

She asked of UP’s GE programs: “May Honor and Excellence ba dyan? Do we have the 21st century skills in there? Are we a member of the ASEAN or not? Do we have the global perspective in there? Have we responded to the game changers of nationalism, globalization, the K-12 program?”

Dr. Benito Pacheco, Vice Chancellor for Research
and Development, delivers the welcome remarks at
the UP Diliman General Education Conference 2012.

Noting that the university has “forgotten to emphasize technology,” she proposed that at least one unit of every syllabus in a GE course or program be delivered via web-based instruction and be assessed using the web.

Capping her presentation, she offered seven scenarios for the university to consider as regards the K-12 program.

The first scenario is to wait and see how the K-12 program goes. K-12 graduates are admitted using the UPCAT that will be redesigned to cover the K-12 standards, UPD offers the same degree programs and the total number of school years is from 17-18.

The second scenario is to gradually phase in the K-12 graduates by offering a Senior High School or a Junior College program. In this scenario, UPD admits from the graduates of Grade 10 using the UPCAT in 2016 and Grade 11 in 2017. UPD keeps the degree programs as they are for a total of 16 to 18 years of schooling.

The third scenario is to admit at Grade 10 and grant a Liberal Arts degree after the GE program of two years. UP shortens degree programs by a year for a total of 16-17 years of schooling.

The fourth scenario seeks to ensure the quality of Grades 10 and 11 graduates with UPD offering a Senior High School or a Junior College program. The university admits from Grade 10 graduates using the UPCAT; degree programs are shortened by a year because UP has ensured the quality of Grade 11 and 12 for a total of 16-17 years of schooling.

The fifth scenario has several steps. Scenario 5A is to admit at Grade 10 in 2016 and grant a Liberal Arts Associate degree after the GE program (two years) and shorten the degree programs to three years. UPD adopts an honors program for those qualified to enter into a second degree or an additional qualification for a straight masters’ program (1 year). The total number of school years is from 16 to 18.

Scenario 5B is to admit at Grade 11 in 2017 into a shortened GE of one year then proceed to a shortened degree program of three years. UPD adopt an honors program for those qualified to enter into a second degree or an additional qualification for a straight masters’ program (1 year). The total number of school years is from 16 to 18.

Scenario 5C is to admit at Grade 12 in 2018 to a shortened GE of one year then proceed to a shortened degree program of three years to graduate. The graduate may proceed to a program to enter a second degree or an additional qualification or to a straight masters’ program for one year and then graduate. The total number of school years is from 17 to 19.

Scenario six proposes to use the career tracks of the K-12: plan the transition for years 2016 and 2017; revise the UPCAT to admit directly to the professions/disciplines such that there are desirable UPCAT profiles for the different degrees. The GE program covers one year while the degree program covers from three to four years for a total of 16 to 17 school years.

The final scenario is to trust the system.  UP admits from the graduates of Grade 12 using the adjusted UPCAT. UP shortens its degree programs by one year because of the ensured quality of Grades 11 and 12 for a total of 16-17 school years.

There will be no new freshmen for two years in the final scenario and the faculty members and Ocampo suggested that faculty members “can go on sabbatical leave by batch.” The last scenario was the best received by the audience.

Other speakers at the 2-day conference were Dr. Rosario Torres-Yu, director of Sentro ng Wikang Filipino who presented the paper “The UPD GE Program and the UPD Language Policy” and Dr. Ma. Cristina Padolina, president of Centro Escolar University who presented “The CHED GE Program.”

Specific GE concerns were raised by Prof. Benjamin Vallejo Jr. (Science, Technology and Society: Challenges and Opportunities), Prof. Flaudette May Datuin (Aesthetic Literacy and Changing Education Paradigms); Professors Benito Pacheco and Mark Albert Zarco (Mainstreaming Disaster Mitigation, Adaptation and Preparedness Strategies through the General Education Program); Prof. Lalaine Yanilla-Aquino (What GE Teachers can Glean from UPCAT Results: Lessons Learned and Insights Gained from the Reading and Language Tests); and Prof. Fidel Nemenzo (Math and GE: Why is Mathematics Part of Liberal Education?).

The conference was organized by a committee comprising officers under the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and faculty from the colleges of Engineering, Home Economics, Science and Social Sciences and Philosophy. Prof. Portia Padilla, director of the Office of Instruction, emceed the proceedings. —Chi A. Ibay