Pascual bats for general education in K-12 system

Published September 1, 2022, 5:43 PM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

Trade and Industry Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual has proposed for the transfer of general education subjects from the college curriculum to the senior high school for grades 11 and 12 to be able to produce skilled graduates or the so-called “holistically developed Filipinos” to address the needs of domestic industries.

Pascual, who previously served as the 20th president of the University of the Philippines, explained that the general education subjects should no longer be taught in college but rather be included in the K to 12 system or in the senior high school to fully equip students for jobs in industries upon graduation.

Pascual noted that the K to 12 educational system objective is to produce “holistically developed Filipinos.” This can be done by teaching senior high students the general education subjects, along with other competencies and skills. In the first place, he said, the age of senior high students are equivalent to freshmen and sophomore college students.

“Why deny general education by just giving it or running it in college when there are more students in high school,” he asked. General education classes include Algebra, Geometry, Calculus, Trigonometry, Statistics, and Quantitative analysis.

To avoid overloading senior high school students, Pascual said there are some “knowledge” subjects that could be removed because they are not helping students, but which can easily be learned by searching in the web. Instead, he suggested, that what should be included in the senior high grades curricular are competencies, skills and general education.

Based on his proposal, the kind of subjects that will be offered in college are for specialization courses, no more general education, or those students who would like to pursue a university degree after senior high school.

But college courses should still offer courses that are helpful in the practice of their profession like Ethics in Accounting for accountancy students or subjects that would make up for the weaknesses in certain professions like for engineering students they should understand the impact of their professions, like the structures that the build, to the environment and society, he explained.

“This idea stemmed from my responsibility now as DTI secretary because we are developing our domestic industries and we want to provide them with skills that they need from our graduates,” he said adding that the law on Congressional Commission for Education or NCOM2, which will be the right venue to study this proposal.

He also based this proposal from his observations in other countries, like Singapore. The Department of Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education, and the Technical Education on Skills Development Authority should look into this, he said.

He recalled that during his time as UP President, they revised the general education so these subjects can be taken up by Grades 11 and 12 students. In fact, he noted that UP has introduced Intermed, which cut the medicine course from nine years to seven years. In Europe, he added, a masters degree is now reduced to one year from two. Perhaps, he said, five year courses in the country can be shortened to four and four year courses to three years because the general education has been taken up during senior high school.

While the experts are the ones who will formulate these changes, what the DTI chief would like to see are senior high graduates who can be useful to local industries and the economy.

The DTI chief further wondered as to the many subjects being taught in the country’s educational system, and yet Filipino students rank at the bottom in international exams.

Assuming K to 12 system is implemented properly, Pascual said the senior high school graduates can become “holistically developed Filipinos” and there is no need for them go to college unless they want to pursue a specialization.

This should also change the mindset that an individual is defined by his college education. “The messaging that you are not whole if you have no college degree is an erroneous mindset. The K to 12, if done properly, will make a Filipino holistic,” he pointed out.

Pascual even asked members of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Management Association of the Philippines to change their qualifications, which require the hiring of college graduates because the country has already implemented the K to 12 system.