In defense of Batch 2022: The first cohort of students to finish under the K-to-12 program
The recent issue about several higher education institutions sending their students to graduation this year had me reflecting on my own experiences as program head and faculty member of the communication and media program of Centro Escolar University (CEU) in Manila.
The issue was driven by what Professor Randy David calls “grade inflation” in “The phenomenon of ‘grade inflation’” (Public Lives, 7/24/22). Somehow, I agree that the overflowing of graduates who were given Latin honors might have been pushed by so many considerations given by teachers and school administrators this school year because of the pandemic. But I also want to believe in the ability of this year’s graduates to soar high because they are the first cohort of students who finished under the K-to-12 program of our basic education. I personally witnessed and compared this batch to the previous batch of graduates who finished under the old system of a 10-year basic education. They are different because they are relatively mature enough to handle academic life.
Let us also not forget that the accumulation of knowledge, although a bit questionable given how polluted our media ecosystem is today, can be a factor as to why this batch of students was a little more advanced than the previous batches. This can be substantiated by a more empirical investigation though.
Our communication and media program at CEU is very small, and we only had 30 graduates this year. Four of these graduates were under the old curriculum, and the biggest number were products of our newest 2018 curriculum. We were able to revise our curriculum in 2017 as a response to the country’s shift to the K-to-12 program. This revision gave us an opportunity to design a curriculum that is more targeted and relevant to the needs of the communication and media industry.
What I found very interesting and amazing at the same time is the number of graduates who were already employed even before they set foot on the stage to receive their diploma. Of the 26 graduates we had in Manila, 16 were already employed, even before their graduation. That is equivalent to 62 percent of the total number of graduates under our newest curriculum.
Yes, our student population in the program is small compared to others, but I think that this scenario might lead us to pause for a while, particularly to those who immediately judge this year’s batch of students as products of the benevolence of their teachers and administrators. The general impression is unfair if we look at their employment potential and not only at their Latin honors.
I can think of two reasons for their immediate employability. First, I already mentioned the level of this batch’s maturity. Because they were products of the K-to-12 program, having stayed in their secondary level for another two years, the accumulation and processing of the needed knowledge and skills in their chosen profession became much easier for them. They are now able to navigate their campus life and personal life more comfortably. Of course, the challenges confronted by them as youth are still there. I am not saying that these kids have already surpassed the problems brought about by our society’s own ills. It’s just that, because of their relative maturity, they seemed to be more prepared to handle the challenges of college life.
Second is the need to immediately find a job and help their families because they think that they have been in school for so long. Adding two more years in high school means losing two years of opportunity to earn money and immediately help their families. So, aside from their passion to achieve their goals in the profession they choose, there is an urgent need to pay back their parents. Combine these factors—an urgent need to work, passion to achieve their goals, personal maturity, and the appropriate training they got from school—then we can understand why these graduates can easily find jobs.
The negative impression we float to public discourse among the graduates of Batch 2022 will not help them build the confidence that we very much need if we expect them to help this nation to move forward. Sociologist Jayeel Cornelio in his book “Rethinking Filipino Millennials: Alternative Perspectives on a Misunderstood Generation,” which won in the National Book Awards under the Social Sciences category this year, already warned us about the dangers of putting so many labels on our Filipino youth, including the word “millennial” because that concept was borrowed from the West, and it doesn’t describe who they are. We might as well take it easy on judging them, in terms of how they earned their diploma and Latin honors. After all, it’s not just the students but all of us, in one way or another, that benefited from the adjustments made by our social institutions to survive and thrive during the pandemic.
Ricky Rosales,program head and faculty member,CEU Communication and Media Program
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