Tita Eggie’s Education Revolution
I haven’t had the chance to talk to her about Republic Act No. 10533 yet, but I’m quite certain Ms Eggie Apostol, our founding chair, is feeling proud of herself, and rightfully so.
During the summer months of 2002, Tita Eggie on her own volition organized a series of consultations with academics and education professionals together with captains of industry. This led to the launch of the Education Revolution, a broad-based, teacher-led and community-driven advocacy for an education system that imbues its citizen-learners, young and old, with a sense of legacy, purpose and vision.
RA 10533 is officially known as the Enhanced Basic Education Act, but it is more popularly called the K-to-12 Law. Just the other day, the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of this landmark piece of education reform was signed by Education Secretary Armin Luistro, Commission on Higher Education Chair Patricia Licuanan and Tesda Director General Joel Villanueva.
The passage of RA 10533 and the signing of the IRR represent a major systemic shift in the way learners, their teachers, and their academic institutions interact with one another. Moreover, the law paves the way for the development of a new curriculum that shall “adhere to the principles and framework of Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education” and employs teaching strategies that are “constructivist, inquiry-based, reflective, collaborative and integrative.”
But will the K-to-12 Law truly revolutionize Philippine basic education? Some education stakeholders don’t think so, at least not yet.
Parents have been increasingly vocal with their objections to the burden on the household budget that the added two years of schooling will bring.
Teachers are anxious that they have not prepared enough to confidently teach the subjects prescribed in the K-to-12 curriculum, which incidentally continues to be a work in progress at this time.
University executives fear the loss of revenue that their institutions will most likely incur when the additional two years of senior high school bring down college enrollment.
Linguists like Dr. Ricky Nolasco, a leading MTBMLE advocate, object to this statement: “The curriculum shall develop proficiency in Filipino and English, provided that the learners’ first and dominant language shall serve as the fundamental language of education. For kindergarten and the first three years of elementary education, instruction, teaching materials, and assessment shall be in the regional or native language of the learners.”
Nolasco contends that this radically deviates from MTBMLE principles. “The first sentence circumscribes all the other provisions. [This means we’re back to the] discredited bilingual policy. This to me is not MTBMLE,” he says.
Nevertheless, the fact is that the signing of the IRR brings a number of critical innovations into sharp relief. Take, for instance, the formation of a consultative committee as enunciated in Section 11. For the first time, educators are seeking the participation of representatives of business and industry—particularly the high-growth IT-BPM (information technology and business process management) sector—toward evolving a world-class curriculum.
And what about Rule V on Career Guidance and Counseling? I have had the opportunity to take part in the career advocacy congress for the National Capital Region organized by the labor department. I had the pleasure of meeting with a number of these highly motivated men and women who at their core have nothing but the best interests of our students in mind. Rule V recognizes the critical role of the career counselor in providing the young learner with a broader and more mature perspective for both college or work choices.
Then there’s Rule VI on the eGASTPE (Expanded Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education). The eGASTPE should significantly boost the viability of private education as an enterprise. In particular, it extends assistance to private schools authorized to offer senior high school to public school students, subject to terms and conditions set by the Department of Education.
Now let’s look at a couple of transitory provisions, which are usually where matters sometimes become quite contentious.
The first states: “To manage the initial implementation of the Enhanced Basic Education Program and mitigate the expected multiyear low enrollment turnout for HEIs [higher education institutions] and technical vocational institutions (TVIs) starting school year 2016-2017, the DepEd shall engage in partnerships with HEIs and TVIs for the utilization of the latter’s human and physical resources, and issue relevant guidelines.”
Section 33.2, on the other hand, “seeks to mitigate the potential reduction or absence of college graduates to meet the human resource requirements of industry through a strategic plan that enables graduates with associate degrees or similar qualifications to enter the workforce during the transition period, as well as agreements with industries to adjust their employment policies to be flexible toward such graduates.”
These provisions seek to directly address two issues that affect both academe and industry: low enrollment turnout for HEIs and industry’s ever increasing demand for globally competent graduates. Let’s hope these provisions work.
The Enhanced Basic Education Act remains our first major step toward a truly responsive education system. I think it crystallizes Tita Eggie’s unwavering belief that education is the best weapon against poverty.
Butch Hernandez ([email protected]) is the executive director of the Eggie Apostol Foundation and education lead for talent development at the Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines.
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