University sets options vs. K to 12 impact

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014


WITH the start of the senior high school expected to reduce their enrollment drastically in 2016, colleges and universities will have to find alternative means of earning to survive.

In Cebu, a university plans to open its campus to other institutions that need facilities to teach their students in senior high school or Grades 11 and 12, among other income-generating measures.

“We are really dependent on tuition,” said Fr. Anthony Salas, vice president for academic affairs of the University of San Carlos (USC).

Salas said the university’s enrollment may decrease by around 40 percent for school years 2016-2017 and 2017-2018, when fourth year high school or Grade 10 students enter senior high school.

Cebu university has to make adjustments
ALTERNATIVES. Fr. Anthony Salas says his university has to make adjustments, retool teachers, even offer optional retirement with the K to 12 program of the Philippine educational system. Schools that depend mostly on tuition will have to look for alternatives once enrolment drops when Grades 11 and 12 start. (Sun.Star Cebu photo/Amper Campana)


The university has come up with a plan to counter the impact of the K to 12 curriculum.

The plan includes assessing the university’s academic programs to find out which will be continued or phased out and identifying which faculty members will be retained, retrained to teach in senior high school, or offered optional retirement.

“Our main objective is really to protect and, as much as possible, keep our qualified faculty members,” Salas told Sun.Star Cebu last Thursday.

The university has formed a committee to evaluate its 280 full-time faculty members, who will be assessed based on their academic qualifications, research outputs, participation in community extension activities and competence in teaching.

Salas said he is confident that only very few of the faculty members will have to leave, with 90 percent of them master’s and doctoral degree holders.

The ones who will likely be affected, he said, are faculty members who have yet to earn a master’s degree and are teaching only general education subjects, which will be taught in senior high school.

“As far as the permanent faculty members are concerned, I don’t think many will be affected,” Salas said.

Part-time teachers

The university, however, may no longer hire part-time teachers, he said. There are almost 200 part-time faculty members teaching in the university.

Salas said some of their teachers will have to be “retooled” so they can teach in senior high school, either in the USC basic education department or other schools.

The USC basic education department started offering Grades 11 and 12 in 2011.

Fr. Felino Javines, director of the department, said the university began preparing for the new curriculum immediately after President Benigno Aquino III announced the adding two years in the basic education curriculum as one of his agenda.

“While everybody was sidelining this educational reform, we were already discussing it,” Javines told Sun.Star Cebu in a separate interview.

Teachers were asked to upgrade their skills and “live up to the standards of the K to 12 curriculum,” he said.

The department has eight teachers trained to teach in senior high school and is looking for two more, who will likely come from the university’s faculty members.

Although the department can avail itself of the university’s college facilities, Javines said they collaborated with other institutions to implement the programs in senior high school.

“Instead of putting up our own structures or procuring our own equipment, we tapped or collaborated with a technical school,” he said.

“I believe that the success of the K to 12 curriculum is possible not in seclusion, but in collaboration,” Javines added.

The department has 750 students expected to enter Grade 11 in 2016.

As the opening of senior high school may require their department to hire teachers from the university, Javines said one question the Department of Education (DepEd) needs to answer is how to compute the compensation package for these teachers.

“Will the teachers still be able to receive the same salary they get from the university?” he asked, citing the principle of no diminution of salary.

Market

Another challenge, Javines said, is the unpredictability of the market. When their department offered bookkeeping, culinary arts, computer engineering and mechanical engineering in 2011, only mechanical engineering got enrollees.

Javines said they offered bookkeeping, thinking many will enroll because of the university’s well-reputed accountancy program. They also offered culinary arts and computer engineering because of the popularity of hotel and restaurant management and computer-related courses.

Javines said their department introduced the career portfolio program to find out their students’ career direction when they enter Grade 7.

Under the new curriculum, students entering senior high school will choose from four tracks: technical-vocational, academic, sports, and arts and design.

Survey

In a recent survey they conducted among 750 students, Javines said, 99 percent said they will go for the academic track.

“That’s the kind of conditioning they get from their family,” he said. “That kind of cultural conditioning is very challenging because the cause of the mismatch between the industry and basic education is this: not everybody is tailored to go to college.”

Javines said he hopes DepEd could give recognition to the USC and other learning institutions that have implemented senior high school ahead of time.

He said schools implementing senior high school ahead of schedule should be given an assurance by DepEd that the programs they are offering in senior high school will not be “shelved” later on.

“We are offering Grade 11 and 12 ahead of schedule not necessarily to make a show-off to other schools that we are way ahead of the pack. The point is: the success of the K to 12 program is not only the task of the Department of Education, it is our task. Our way of helping DepEd is to offer it ahead so that they will also learn from us,” said Javines.

As for the evaluation of the university’s degree programs, Salas said the university will not only look at the program’s enrollment data, but also consider its relevance to society.

Programs

The USC offers 75 academic programs, 71 graduate programs and nine doctoral programs. It is known for its architecture and accountancy programs, among others.

It’s still possible that no courses will be phased out, said Salas. “It’s even possible that we will offer new programs,” he said.

He added that there are academic programs that the university has committed to offer despite having few enrollees because these are needed by society, like mathematics and physics.

“For us, enrollment is not the only basis, because if we believe that if this academic program aligns with our mission and vision as a university, we can keep it going,” said Salas.

Other factors

Other factors evaluators will consider include the availability of qualified faculty members in the program and the program’s relevance to the vision and mission of the Society of Divine Word, which runs the university.

Salas said their target is to finish the assessment of the academic programs by October, which will then be followed by the evaluation of faculty members.

When senior high school opens in 2016, Salas projected the university’s enrollment to decrease from 19,000 students to only 10,000 to 12,000, which will mean a huge decrease in the university’s revenues.

To make up for the lost revenues, Salas said the university may have to produce more researches and inventions that it can commercialize.

He also hopes that DepEd helps by helping other schools pay for the use of available facilities in the university and sustain its financial assistance to teachers and students in private schools.

Despite the challenges that lie ahead, Salas said the university fully supports the K to 12 curriculum, with the Philippines lagging behind other nations in terms of the quality of education.

“We believe in the importance of revamping our educational system,” Salas said. “We just have to bite the bullet.”

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 25, 2014.

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