Globally competitive education

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By Neil Honeyman

An Independent View

Monday, March 10, 2014


THERE are many arguments about what we want from our education system. There is, however, near-unanimity when it comes to global competitiveness. We want our children to stand on the world’s stage as equal to anybody else. We want our education system to be globally competitive.

What does this mean?

It means that our children should have a school environment where they have a chance to compete with the best in the world.

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Global competitiveness is substantially concerned with those areas of study which need to be studied everywhere in order to be able to cope with global challenges. These areas include:

1. Numeracy. Allied to numeracy is Mathematics. Nations which have the highest proficiency in Math are those at the forefront of all learning.

2. Science. Many of the challenges we face, such as the vital one of sustainability, are substantially connected to the analysis of scientific problems.

3. Language. Speaking, listening, and reading proficiencies are all key determinants of global competitiveness. The de facto universal language is gravitating towards English. From a population perspective, Mandarin is vital as well but the world of computers finds it difficult to handle Mandarin. The Chinese, an intensely pragmatic people, recognize the prominence of English in the 21st Century world.

4. Information Technology. The ability of information technology to store, process, and transmit data has been developing at a breathtaking rate for the past few decades. This enables productivity in all spheres of human endeavor to increase correspondingly.

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The four areas mentioned above: Numeracy, Science, Language, Information Technology must, if we are to be globally competitive, be cornerstones of our education policy. This is well-understood by our congressmen, particularly the House education committee. In 2012, this committee drafted House Bill 6643 which explicitly emphasized Global Competitiveness as a key criterion to which our education policy must adhere if it is to be acceptable to the nation.

The Senate drafted its own bill SB 3286 which, although not so detailed as the House Bill, contained many of the same ideas.

On 30 January 2013, the education committees of the House of Representatives and Senate met in order to draft a Republic Act which, hopefully, would receive congressional approval.

This meeting was productive and the Senate Journal No 52, using the Senate Bill as a template but incorporating passages from the House Bill when it was agreed that they should be incorporated, produced a draft Republic Act.

Eventually R.A. 10533, the new Education Act was signed into law by President Aquino on May 15, 2013. Unfortunately, this Act has serious modifications from what was agreed by the Congressional education committees. We believe that these modifications were not made by our elected representatives.

If implemented, R.A. 10533 will not, as it falsely claims to do, enhance our curriculum.

Future articles will offer constructive suggestions as to how we can genuinely enhance our education system.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on March 10, 2014.

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