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K+12 POLICY FRAMEWORK: Pessimistic, Optimistic or Realistic?

 

COCOPEA North Luzon Consultation
November 27, 2010  at the University of Baguio, Baguio City

I. COMPREHENSIVE POLICY IMPACT ANALYSIS

The formulation of Policy for the K+12 Education System requires rigorous systems analysis. Many patchwork of issues, opinions and statistical analysis have already been presented by so many sectors in so many meetings and consultations.  But what is more important to see now is the entire picture, the whole tapestry of Cause-Effects and Costs-Benefits that the policy, if adopted, will create.

Actually we did this partially today. But it seems we also need the help of Education Economists to prepare a comprehensive policy impact analysis and simulate varying policy options under different policy assumptions and conditions.

II. DIFFERENT CONDITIONS, DIFFERENT ASSUMPTIONS, DIFFERENT POLICIES

Different conditions generate different assumptions, which in turn create different policies. The success of any policy depends on the correctness of its policy assumptions.

Taking this fact into consideration, should we make policy assumptions based on current realities? Or should policy be based on policy conditions we would want to happen, but which may not exist by the time we start implementing the policy?

The proposed K+12 Education System poses a very challenging case, in as far as selecting the most realistic policy assumptions is concerned.  These policy assumptions and the appertaining conditions affecting them are as follows:

1. Increasing Basic Education from 10-12 years automatically expands the educational financing requirements for infrastructure, personnel, learning resources, training and development. These requirements can only be achieved if the following conditions are met:

1.1.          Enough National Government and Local Government Budget (LGU) Budgets are made available.

  • Currently, national and local government budgets are already strained to the limit and are averting deficit spending.

1.2.          Families can meet the financial burden for the additional 2 years of study to

(a)        Pay for Daily Allowance of Students and

  • Currently, families are reeling in financial difficulties. And adding 2 additional years could even increase drop-out rates because school-age members of poor families usually sacrifice their studies to economize on daily school allowances so that their siblings can  continue their studies.

(b)        Contribute to under-funded School programs, services and expenditure items (e.g., laboratories for information technology, sciences, vocational arts; multimedia resources; maintenance and operating expenses for repairs and utilities, etc.)

  • Currently, the government policy on universal access to basic education disallows contributions  by  parents and students to complement  under-funded public school budgets. Even students from families who can afford to pay contributions are thus exempted from giving their share.

1.3.          Operational efficiencies and synergies are created within the public school system to create savings which can be re-allocated to more essential programs.

  • Currently, administrative wastes and leakages permeate the public school bureaucracy.

1.4.          The educational policy must not destroy the financial viability of private Schools. Otherwise, students which may be orphaned by Private School closures and program terminations will simply create new financial and logistical burdens for the public schools.

  • In this connection, expanding the coverage of the government’s  educational subsidy to elementary, secondary and tertiary students in private schools is still  one of the best ways for reducing educational costs, since most private schools, colleges and universities have lower per capita educational costs compared to public schools, colleges and universities.

2. Increasing Basic Education from 10-12 years requires a higher level of organizational core competence which can only be achieved if the following conditions are met:

2.1               If the core competencies of secondary schools administrators and teachers can be upgraded to the  level of  Technical-Vocational and College administrators and faculty. The Senior High School Curriculum requires the core competencies of Technical-Vocational and Tertiary Schools (Junior College).  As they are now, our secondary schools cannot manage the senior High School Curriculum.

  • And this has brought  a  counter-proposal  for the offering of two (2) additional pre-collegiate years  (i.e., a Junior or Community College/Tech-Voc option)  instead of the (2) additional Senior High School years. From the point-of-view of many educators, the Junior or Community College/Tech-Voc option is less disruptive, more manageable and financially viable. This is because existing high schools need not invest in additional expertise, buildings, facilities and equipment. And existing Colleges and Technical-Vocational Schools already have the educational resources and faculty to absorb students for the two (2) additional years of study.

2.2.        If Teacher Competence can be enhanced to use cost-effective tools and methods, such as information and communications technologies and multimedia.

  • However, currently, it is estimated that in the public schools, 70% of students are tech-savvy, while only 30% of Teachers are.

3. Increasing Basic Education from 10-12 years requires a re-programming of the curricula and re-engineering of the entire educational system. This re-programming and re-engineering starts from the pre-school, elementary, secondary, through the technical-vocational, and tertiary education  levels;   aligning them in a step-ladder  progression to achieve international professional standards mandated for various industries and socio-economic sectors.  More specifically,

3.1               We need to re-program curricula in the different educational levels by streamlining them to remove obsolete and redundant courses/subjects/contents. We also need to continually benchmark and update curricula based on global standards.

  • Current educational policies and standards are so rigid they prevent the swift and continuous updating of curricula, course contents and syllabi which is necessary in coping-up with the rapidly changing expertise benchmarks created by global competition.
  • We cannot even invent our own new and cutting-edge courses because our government educational agencies will recognize only those already offered and recognized abroad. So we are always at the tail-end of educational innovation.
  • Furthermore, our government educational agencies are splintered into different kingdoms. There is a need for a Supreme Authority in the Education Sector to orchestrate the synchronization and integration of desired policies, curricula, programs among DEPED, TESDA, and CHED. And this requires organizational re-structuring.
  • Table 1, Curricular  Synchronization,  shows that it is difficult to formulate policy just based on general principles and statements. The formulation of educational policy (what to do?)  that  is feasible and acceptable to stakeholders rests on the viability and suitability of the educational programs (how to do it?) designed to operationalize it.  We must therefore deal with specifics at the same time that we are evolving a general education policy.

Table 1 Curricular Synchronization

PRE-SCHOOL & ELEMENTARYSECONDARYTEC-VOCUNDERGRADUATE & GRADUATE
1. Define the International Competency Standards required for each Grade Level.1. Define the International Competency Standards required for each Year Level.1. Define the ladderized International Competency Standards required for each Skills Competency Cluster.1. Define the ladderized International Competency Standards required for each professional cluster.

2. Define a streamlined curriculum for each Grade Level.
2. Define a streamlined curriculum for each Year Level.2. Define a streamlined curriculum for each Skills Competency Program.2. Define a streamlined curriculum for each Professional Degree Program.
3. Define the core knowledge and skills that each Subject of the curriculum must develop3. Define the core knowledge and skills that each Subject of the curriculum must develop3. Define the learning competencies required to achieve industry acceptance in each Skills Competency Course3. Define the learning competencies required to achieve industry acceptance in each Professional Degree Program.
4. Define the upward Learning Continuum required to achieve the entry-level Secondary learning competencies.4. Define the required entry-level Secondary learning competencies. And define the upward Learning Continuum required to achieve entry-level Tec-Voc and Undergraduate learning competencies4. Define the required entry-level Tec-Voc learning competencies. And define the upward Learning Continuum required to achieve entry-level Undergraduate learning competencies or industry employment4. Define the required entry-level Undergraduate learning competencies. And define the upward Learning Continuum required to achieve entry-level Graduate learning competencies or industry employment
5. Define different curricular streams of Elementary School preparation (i.e., regular, accelerated)5. Define different curricular streams of Secondary School preparation (i.e., General comprehensive, Physical Sciences, ICT Sciences, Arts & Music, Business & Entrepreneurship, Technical & Engineering)

 

3.2               After synchronizing curricula we need to re-engineer the educational machinery so it will be capable of implementing the educational programs effectively and efficiently. I am using the word re-engineer because aside from re-structuring educational agencies and organizations we need to overhaul educational management and teaching-learning  processes to facilitate  faster, more economical, and higher quality learning.

The implications of faster, more economical and higher quality learning are:

  • We must allow parts of the whole to become creative and move rapidly rather than moving the immovable whole, itself. In this connection, we must
    • Give real academic freedom and autonomy to responsible and qualified educational institutions.
    • Decentralize and devolve relevant basic education functions of National Agencies to Local Government Units. This includes co-management of public schools and direct budgetary allocation from local government funds. This may include abolition of Regional Offices and the creation of Regional Desks to coordinate programs and budgets.
  • Full adoption of information and communications technology and use of multimedia resources in both educational administration and teaching-learning processes.
  • Creation of a National Multi-Media Resources Center where all modularized course syllabi, e-books, e-journals, presentations, films and learning materials needed by teachers can be downloaded through the internet. And learning resource creators from among teachers, authors, and scientists from around the world can also contribute learning materials.

4. Increasing Basic Education from 10-12 years requires that proper consideration of student needs, interests, capabilities and  differences be made in the formulation of policy.

For example, if the achievement  standard upon which the two (2) additional high school years is calibrated, is based on the expected academic performance of AVERAGE STUDENTS, what options are there for RETAINED STUDENTS, LOW ACHIEVERS and HIGH ACHIEVERS?

  • Do we need to impose year-level achievement tests as a requirement for determining  student retention, promotion and acceleration?
  • Will there be a program for specialized instruction of RETAINED STUDENTS?
  • Will there be a program for specialized remediation of LOW ACHIEVERS?
  • Should HIGH ACHIEVERS be given the option for academic acceleration so they can finish basic education earlier than  K+12 years?
  • Should we therefore allow many roads to climb the mountain of basic education?  Or should we just permit one (1) superhighway?

It is the belief of some educators that the K+10 Education System failed because it lacked 2 more years of study. Of course this is one reason. But the bigger reason why K+10 Education System failed is because of poor educational inputs and processes which surely would not yield positive outcomes.

So the biggest issue the K+12 Education System must address are its pre-requisite educational inputs and processes. If these are not given solution, the K+12 Education System policy is already doomed from the very start.

 

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