A globally competitive curriculum

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By Neil Honeyman

An Independent View

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


THE globally competitive curriculum is derived directly from the essential constituents that comprise global competitiveness namely Language, Numeracy, Science, Information Technology. There is the additional aspect that in order for global competitiveness to be achieved, all the constituents should be in place by Grade 1.

This is because young children have lively, enquiring minds which should be nurtured by our education system.

Grade 1 needs to have science if we are to be serious about global competition. Young children are enthusiastic about natural phenomena which are addressed by science. The existence of rainbows, the phases of the moon, the phenomenon of eclipses can be handled by enthusiastic Grade 1 students.

An eight-year-old Stephen Hawking asked his father: “where do the stars come from?” The Philippines has many children that ask the same question and who would be capable of winning international acclaim if, like Hawking, they received an education which encouraged rather than depressed their thirst for knowledge.

World famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright attributed his ability to make optimal use of space to the building blocks which he was encouraged to play with at his kindergarten.

The seeds of intellectual greatness are planted very early. Let us have an education system which causes the seeds to flourish.

There is the question of devising an efficient curriculum.

Why is the standard of mathematics in Singapore much higher than the Philippines?

The answer is substantially due to the relative efficiencies of the curriculum in Singapore compared with here. In fact, many private schools in the Philippines are using Singaporean text books to teach Math and English because they are demonstrably better than ours.

There are topics within the Philippine Math curriculum which are of intrinsically little value. “Place values” is one such topic. Year after year this tedious subject is dealt with by using larger and larger numbers. [thousands, millions, billions, trillions]. This tends to destroy, rather than enhance, students love for Mathematics.

What we need from our Math curriculum is a real understanding of the subject. Understanding, as opposed to rote learning, is a concept that is tested in some external examinations. The University of the Philippines College Admission Test (Upcat) is clearly focused on what students truly understand. Short-term learning is not valued.

***

As some private schools show, computer studies can successfully be introduced to Grade 1 students. An efficient Information Technology program can contribute much to enhance the global competitiveness of the Philippine education system.

Language

English should be introduced before Grade 1. Local language will also be employed but, if we are serious about global competitiveness, then English has to be prevailing language even in early education.

This is not to belittle cultural concerns. We support the studying of all aspects of Philippines culture, especially its language, literature, and history.

Are we serious about a globally competitive education system?

Students are. Parents are. Our legislators are. We have serious doubts about the Department of Education.

Education is too important to be in the hands of Armin Luistro. As soon as he kindly leaves the stage, the better Philippine education will be.*

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on March 12, 2014.

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