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Learning in the time of The Punisher

WHAT WILL the education landscape be like in the next six years? If we go by the numbers, there will be more of the same. As reported by the school heads themselves, the total enrollment in public elementary schools in School Year 2015-2016 was 14,894,646 including 2,110,562 new entrants to the public school system in Grade 1. The high school enrollment including the pilot senior high schools was 6,017,781. Riding herd over this multitude of young learners are about 500,000 public school teachers.

The Department of Education’s stated cohort completion rate up to Grade 10 is about 75 percent, so the SY 2015 Grade 1 cohort will be around 1.6 million students at Grade 10. Furthermore, DepEd surveys show that a little over half of them (56 percent) will want to go to college while the rest will either go for middle skills development through technical vocational institutions (TVIs) before looking for a job, or try and find work immediately after graduation.

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This is where the progression changes significantly. The enrollment figures will go up slightly, as is the case from year to year, but for SY 2016, Grade 10 (or fourth year high school) students will go on to two years of senior high school (Grades 11 and 12) as mandated by the K-to-12 Law or Republic Act No. 10533.

Again, let’s go by the numbers. At basic education, the National Achievement Tests (NAT) over the last five years show that there has been improvement, but this is a qualified success.

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In 2011, the total elementary NAT mean percentile score was 68.2 percent and 47.9 percent for secondary. In 2015, the figures went up, but not by much and not enough to breach the mastery threshold of 75 percent. In practical terms, this means that the average Grade 6 pupil today can answer only 60 percent of the test questions in English, science, math, Filipino and Hekasi correctly, and the Grade 10 student, only less than half of the test questions correctly.

This is where the repurposed K-to-12 curriculum and the specialization tracks at senior high school will do the most good. When Education Undersecretary Dina Ocampo delivered the first public presentation of K-to-12, she said it wasn’t unusual for the typical 16-year-old fourth year high school student to be unsure of exactly what degree he or she should pursue in college. Not being of legal age, he or she can’t look for work, so postsecondary education becomes the only option.

Senior high school will definitely help clarify matters for young learners and their parents, because the specialization tracks will give them a better idea of what to expect either in college or at TVIs, or they can be legally employed or try out their newly acquired entrepreneurship skills.

The drop in college enrollment with the implementation of senior high school this year directly threatens the viability of higher education institutions, but only in the next five to six years. Our annual graduate pool is about 600,000, mostly enrolled in business and related courses.

Sadly, the Department of Labor and Employment’s statistics strongly suggest that industries are really having a difficult time finding and keeping the right talent despite the fact that there are plenty of vacancies in the job market.

The Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (Ibpap) has repeatedly shown that its hiring rate still languishes anywhere from 7 to 10 percent. Ibpap member-companies are the country’s biggest private-sector employers. At present, they have over one million full-time employees, with annual growth conservatively estimated at 20 percent, provided the demand for talent can be met.

Senior high school and recent developments in higher education show a lot of potential in addressing these talent and knowledge gaps in the next six years. The CHEd is currently implementing its K-to-12 Transition Program, which it describes as “a once-in-a-generation opportunity” for the qualitative improvement of college faculty. This innovative undertaking provides scholarships, grants and industry immersion opportunities for the next five years to faculty members who lost teaching loads or displaced by the drop in college enrollment.

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The IT-business process management industry is keenly interested in the objectives of the faculty immersion component. The Ibpap and its affiliate associations (i.e., the Global In-House Centers Council, the Health Information Management Association of the Philippines, the Philippine Software Industry Association, the Contact Center Association of the Philippines, the Animation Council of the Philippines and the Game Developers Association of the Philippines) are all actively working with the CHEd to provide teachers with in-depth exposure to the global technology-driven workplace.

Penny Bongato, Ibpap executive director for research and talent development, says efforts have been stepped up to bring about meaningful and mutually beneficial industry-academe partnerships with faculty immersion as a continuing activity.

Collaboration between industry and academe is critical, especially for the next six years. The faculty immersion component provides teachers with a more nuanced perspective of the modern workplace, which they can then meaningfully share with their students. This fact cannot be overemphasized because unlike before, today’s teachers need to be able to develop the competencies of their students for jobs that are yet to be created.

Butch Hernandez ([email protected])
is the executive director of the Eggie Apostol
Foundation.

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TAGS: education landscape, K-to-12 curriculum, The Punisher
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