The next normal or the post-pandemic will have a very “disruptive” world, especially for higher education, according to educational specialists.
“It will be a very disruptive world. It’s a disruptive future technologically because of the Fourth Industrial Revolution [or the trend towards automation in manufacturing technologies and processes which include artificial intelligence and Internet of things], global warming and climate change, and zoonoses and pandemic,” University of the Philippines (UP) Vice President for Academic Affairs Cynthia Bautista said during the #PilipiLUNAS2022 virtual forum hosted by UP Diliman.
Bautista added that the global response to these global challenges to higher education is for “sustainable development and lifelong learning.”
She also mentioned that the imperatives need to be addressed in the next normal to fully accomplish the paradigm shift from education to learning, develop lifelong learning pathways in higher education, implement and institutionalize the Philippine Qualifications Framework, and operationalize and articulate public-private education.
“The disruptive world also requires different competencies and skills on the part of the graduates that we will be producing. We have to change the curriculum cannot be the same as before,” Bautista said.
UP Visayas Tacloban College Dean and UP Open University Professor Dr. Patricia Arinto suggested that higher education institutions pay more attention to general education (GE) which serves as the bedrock or foundation of the undergraduate curriculum.
“Instead of the traditional mode of delivering GE courses, I suggest, the virtual GE program composed of entirely GE [massive open online courses] which are short online courses in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and mathematics,” Arinto said.
Arinto noted that these short online courses can be in different formats such as reading courses or workshops, and students can also choose courses in each track and they would be assessed based on their automated examinations, reflection papers, video projects, or podcasts.
She also suggested giving students certificates of completion instead of grades.
“GE courses will develop critical skills which in the present age should include not only critical thinking but also critical digital literacies and will improve student engagement in GE through [a] greater variety of courses, shorter bursts, and digital pedagogies,” Arinto added.
Meanwhile, UP College of Education Professor Dina Ocampo said the gaps in the program implementation in both basic and higher education have been “massive.”
“Research has shown that those who have access to technology and materials have had an edge during this time and many children fall through the gap because they have so little access or so limited access,” Ocampo noted.
According to the data from the Department of Education for the school year (SY) 2019-2020 to SY 2020-2021, basic education enrollment has dropped from 27,008,605 enrollees to just 24,568,570 enrollees, respectively.
The Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges, meanwhile, had estimated that there were a total of 44,069 college students who were not enrolled in the SY 2020-2021.
To bridge continuity from basic to higher education, Ocampo suggested recognizing and addressing pre-existing poverty and inequalities.
Access to libraries and multimedia materials in communities and schools must also be provided, she added, as well as to strengthen the infrastructure for access to the Internet, technology, and digital tools.