To address the requirements of the 2015 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) integration, De La Salle University (DLSU) has been planning for a smooth transition into the New Lasallian Core Curriculum (NLCC) and the upcoming academic calendar shift.
Filipino in the GEC and NLCC
Last June 2013, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) released Memorandum Order (CMO) No. 20, which is proposing a new General Education Curriculum (GEC) in all colleges and universities. The GEC requires the shuffling of the general education courses that will be taught in the tertiary level and the Senior High School (SHS) level of the K-12 program. One of its proposals is that Filipino subjects will no longer be taught in the tertiary level, since these are already offered in the SHS.
Filipino Professor David Michael San Juan argues that Filipino subjects being taught in SHS are highly track-based and technical, unlike in college wherein they have a liberal arts orientation. This is the reason that Filipino subjects must not be removed in the tertiary curriculum, according to San Juan.
Since the proposal of the new GEC, DLSU’s Filipino Department has been appealing to CHED for the retention of Filipino subjects in the tertiary level. San Juan shares that the Filipino Department received an email from CHED dated September 5 stating that CHED will decide on the appeal in the near future. As of press time, no updates have been provided yet regarding the issue.
“Because of this, we will continue our lobbying with CHED to retain Filipino subjects in the tertiary level. One hindrance to this cause is that the other schools don’t want to include units beyond the requirements of CHED,” San Juan says in Filipino and explaining that DLSU is the only university actively fighting for the cause.
Internally, the Filipino Department has also been appealing to the Academics Council to include at least one Filipino subject in the NLCC. Although there is a subject entitled “The Filipino and the ASEAN” in the NLCC, San Juan says it is still uncertain as to how much of the subject will tackle Filipino identity and whether it would be taught in Filipino.
“It’s not clear yet on how much the subject [The Filipino and the ASEAN] will promote Filipino identity, because the Economics Department will be the one in charge of the subject, not the Filipino Department. This is why we’re appealing to the Academics Council to provide us with a Filipino subject we can take charge of,” San Juan explains in Filipino.
Calendar shift: pros and cons
Meanwhile, upon its conception, the academic calendar shift has drawn different opinions among University stakeholders. Angelo King Institute Director Dr. Tereso Tullao Jr. believes that one of its advantages is that the University’s calendar will be aligned with other universities in Southeast Asia. Furthermore, the ASEAN integration will allow more international students and faculty members to engage in international linkages and exchange programs.
Chairperson of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Shift in Academic Calendar Dr. Rose Seva says that the academic calendar shift can also prevent the discontinuation of some international student exchange programs. For instance, in the past, the National University of Singapore invited DLSU to their summer student exchange program during July, but since DLSU students had classes that time, they were unable to participate in the program. “If we shift the academic calendar, events like these would be prevented,” Seva explains.
On the other hand, San Juan says that the country’s climate shows that no matter what month the academic year will start, there will still be problems when it comes to rains and storms.
In addition, Tullao points out that the difference between the academic calendars of high schools and colleges can also be a problem in the proposed shift, since students who will graduate from high school will have to wait until August or September to enter college.
Open to all
DLSU will be offering a special term during the three month-long vacation consequential to the calendar shift. The special term is a transition period from academic years 2014 – 2015 to 2015 – 2016. The latter is when the new academic calendar will be implemented.
Seva considers the special term a compromise term. “It’s shorter than the regular term, but it’s longer than the summer term. We designed it that way so that the students will not be constrained to enroll only six units. The term will also allow graduating students to finish their courses on time,” she explains.
There have been numerous inquiries as to how the special term will be executed. Seva says that the special term was originally going to be offered only to graduating students. After the University’s recent town hall meeting, it was decided that non-graduating students could also enroll during the special term.
In terms of what courses will be offered in the special term, Seva points out that the students will be free to petition any subject, however, there will be no guarantee that the subjects will be open due to factors like availability of classrooms and professors. “Right now we’re finalizing our policies related to enrollment, [and] opening classes, among others,” she furthers.
More than the polishing the technicalities of the transition period and the curriculum shift, DLSU is eager to meet the requirements of the 2015 regional integration to improve its brand of being a research-centered University and to establish international linkages with more foreign universities.