The K-TO-12 program of basic education is resulting in chaos in higher education. In two women’s colleges in Metro Manila, an early retirement/separation package has been offered to all members of the general education (GE) faculty, if not the entire faculty of professional programs.
The short of the long story is that we in higher education Institutions (HEI) are confronted with the scare of zero enrolment of first-year students in school years 2016-2017, 2017-2018.
But as early as now, even before the school year has opened in some schools, the devil has been grinning ear to ear.
The devil apparently has encroached upon school administrators, and certainly, the teachers who have been dealt the low blow—retrenchment.
The devil is called fear. And it seems successful in mocking and insulting the dignity of teachers and the teaching profession as a whole.
The K-to-12 program enacted by Republic Act 10533 adds two years of senior high school to the basic education. On the one hand, it gives options to Filipino families and individuals whether to pursue an academic track in a university or college, or go technical and vocational; or settle into sports and arts. On the other hand, critics are saying K-to-12 is acquiescence to the western capitalist hegemony they say the additional two years is not the panacea to the low quality of education, which has become commercial business in some institutions.
It is not as if the consequences of K-to-12 will endure forever. The period of transition is obviously transitory, between now and the years when conditions in college will have been back to normal. By then, teachers if they are up to the challenge, will not have only grown older in years, but more excited and more passionate in the new GE curriculum.
The debate should have ceased, “Ituturo sa Filipino, o ituturo ang Filipino?”
As teachers WE have a big say in the direction of education in the future. Although descriptions of the new subjects are already available in English and in Filipino, Commission on Higher Education’s (Ched) Technical Panel is leaving it up to the schools to draft the syllabi on their own. Huge task, but also an opportunity.
If we are true to our mission of uplifting the quality of education especially on the tertiary level, now is the time to work together, brainstorm, debate with colleagues, sit down to draft the contents of the courses that will make the future generations of students proud, and show administrators that we are their most important resources for sustainability and relevance.
Now is the time for teacher participation and governance. We shall steer the nation with our ideas, knowledge and wisdom, creativity, and boundless energy. The workshops on syllabi will expose the philosophy or lack, the foresight or narrowmindedness, the freedom from or adherence to, the remnants of colonial education among school administrators.
The new GE curriculum demands an interdisciplinary attitude and content. This new thrust has been clear to us early as teachers, and we are ready to undertake retooling to be at par with the standards and objectives of the new subjects.
But administrators of schools have lagged behind.
If we are to reflect seriously on the new GE, there is no way but to teach them in Filipino, the language of our blood, the national language enshrined in and protected by the Constitution.
If at all, we should settle the debate, we in Oryang urge the government and school administrators, respect the Constitution. The choice to teach the GE subjects in Filipino-and we must, if we can, must be left to the discretion of teachers. No administrator, no school president, no vice president, no dean, no department chair, shall prevent the teacher to teach the subject in Filipino. And as Filipino to us means making use of the languages of the regions to facilitate the learning and strengthen scholarship as early scholars and teachers have proven, let the teacher use Filipino without prejudice to his or her position, rank, security of tenure, and all other rights as a citizen of the republic.
Unfortunately, some school administrators, and we challenge the members of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) in particular, seem to have reacted more in panic and dread of anticipated losses, instead of boldness and creativity, instead of faith, hope, and love, the three abiding virtues that we as Catholics have been taught by Jesus, the Supreme Teacher.
We urge the Ched to require all administrators to undertake review and retooling in terms of educational philosophy, and attitude toward Filipino as a language of national pride, the language that can lift us to true progress and freedom as a people.
To the hard work and dedicated service of teachers, some administrators in leading private schools have chosen the convenient exit for us, without consultation, an early separation package, effective May 2015.
They have reduced us, their teachers, to 110-120 percent of monthly salary per year of service for the separation package, which they shamelessly call “mandatory.”
The devil is saying, take me, take me.
Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”
But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”
Rebecca T. Añonuevo is president of Oryang, or the Katipunan ng mga Gurong Filipino para sa Bansang Filipino. She is a poet in Filipino, and the 2013 recipient of the SEAWrite Awards from the Kingdom of Thailand.