Experts tackle the labor implications of K-12 on La Salle in a forum last Friday.
Two more years.
Students should expect more than just two more years in high school as the implementation of the Basic Education Act of 2013 moves into full swing this year.
Rethinking DLSU’s business model
Among the law’s many features, it mandates the use of the mother tongue as the medium of instruction, under the Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE) framework. Last July, the Department of Education (DepEd) decided to expand the framework’s reach by adding seven more native languages into the mix, in addition to the 12 that had already been in use. “The use of the same language spoken at home… helps improve the pupils’ cognitive development,” says DepEd secretary Armin Luistro of the move in a Rappler article.
Furthermore, the addition of Senior High School (SHS) has given students the chance to specialize in different fields. Within Grades 11 and 12, students can choose to take four tracks (Academic, Technical-Vocational, Sports and Arts and Design) in the form of 16 subjects to help them ease into their future careers, in addition to the 15 core subjects already taught. The SHS core curriculum has likewise been revised with schools now spotlighting on subjects like Contemporary Philippine Arts, Oral Communication, Media and Information Literacy and Disaster Readiness and Risk Reduction, among others.
The program’s implementation, however, poses problems for higher education institutions (HEIs) like DLSU since there will be no college freshmen enrolling from 2015 to 2017. In view of the two-year enrollment gap, Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chairperson Patricia Licuanan has urged schools to take advantage of this “opportunity… to rethink their business model and ensure the quality of education they offer” in a Rappler article.
New Lasallian Core Curriculum
True to Licuanan’s words, the University started its thrust towards K-12 last year. At the heart of its preparations is the thorough revision of the Lasallian Core Curriculum (LCC), the framework that has governed teaching in DLSU since 2005.
As the LCC mandates, Lasallians are required to take around 60 general education (GE) courses. Recently, however, with the enactment of K-12 as a law, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) issued Memorandum Order (CMO) No. 20 on June 2013, significantly reducing this number to 36 units. CMO No. 20 also shifts the present curriculum’s focus. While the old curriculum previously had subjects like college algebra and English grammar and composition at its core, the new one caters to the needs of the 21st century learner, with applied courses like Mathematics in the Modern World and Purposive Communication now taking the helm.
To keep up with these changes, the University has directed its efforts towards drafting a New Lasallian Core Curriculum (NLCC), a novel teaching framework which will include new GE and major courses that have been revised in view of K-12. Also forming the backbone of the NLCC are the other CHED-mandated courses like Art Appreciation, Ethics, Understanding the Self, Readings in Philippine History, The Contemporary World (a course on globalization) and Science, Technology and Society.
“Most of our present GE courses like English, Filipino, PE and the natural sciences have [cascaded] down to Grades 11 and 12. The NLCC will also include the eight CHED-mandated courses, but in DLSU, we intend to add other GE courses into the mix like ASEAN studies,” explains Dr. Myrna Austria, Vice Chancellor for Academics (VCA). Along with these changes, three TRED courses are to be maintained and taught at a more advanced level. Meanwhile, courses mandated by law like The Life and Works of Rizal and the National Service Training Program (NSTP) will still be in place.
These GE courses are also meant to be inter-disciplinary. “The new curriculum has been critically designed since we intend to focus on several disciplines. ASEAN studies, for example, can be taught by a team of faculty from political science, economics or international studies,” she says.
Austria mentions, however, that these proposals are still in a state of development. As of press time, the NLCC Framework Committee, composed of senior faculty from each college, is still in the process of designing the new curriculum, which is to be implemented by 2016. On February 26, a kapihan organized by the Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs will convene faculty to discuss developments in the NLCC.
Improving teaching schemes and student services
Aside from its efforts in tailor-fitting the NLCC to the needs of the modern student, the University has also started evaluating and potentially improving current teaching pedagogies and student services in order to make them at par with universities abroad.
With the impending changes in the University’s core curriculum, changes in the syllabi and teaching materials would have to inevitably follow suit. An official work plan approved by the President’s Council last August 2013 details when and for how long these developments are to take place in the coming years.
This framework specifies that through professional learning communities (PLCs), the University is slated to develop revised syllabi and new course materials for current and new major courses by next year. Meanwhile, the Office for Strategic Communication (STRATCOM) is also expected to develop new collaterals to market the revamped undergraduate programs starting next year.
In addition to this, the DLSU College Admission Test (DCAT) will likewise be undergoing a series of revisions spearheaded by the Institutional Testing and Evaluation Office (ITEO). “Those who would be admitted in 2016 should have a new admission test because of the content added in Grades 11 and 12,” relates Austria. Beginning this term, the DCAT has undergone review and by November of the following year, the University hopes to conduct a pilot-test for the exam-in-development.
A simulation exercise conducted by the University last year projects that around 1,000 students can still enroll in De La Salle schools by 2016, only a third of the University’s usual intake. The substantial reduction in the enrollment figures has implications on the University’s full-time faculty, particularly the displaced GE professors in CLA, COS and BAGCED.
In response, the University, with the respective department chairs, has decided to draft a plan, by which it can hire faculty in some colleges and postpone it in others so that it does not heavily affect the concerned colleges. Some of the faculty have also been asked to “front-load” this year. In this scheme, faculty members are asked to take additional teaching units between now and 2015, with the payment for the extra workload being deferred to AY 2015-2016. This, in particular, will help the University pay full-time faculty during the lean years.
There have also been talks regarding faculty members being sent to De La Salle feeder schools to teach. “De La Salle Zobel and Canlubang have initially expressed their need for faculty that would teach the higher science and math courses for Grades 11 and 12,” tells Austria. Since these college professors would have to teach these high school subjects for an entire academic year, however, there have been problems in terms of defining these professors’ workloads in terms of academic units. Austria assures, though, that the VCA has been in the process of resolving this issue.
In line with all these, the Faculty Complement has also been scheduled for review next year. The Associate Vice Chancellor for Faculty Resources and Development (AVC-FRD) is likewise set to hold a forum on February 14 to discuss the implications of K-12 on DLSU’s labor force.