Experts warn against shortening college courses
MANILA, Philippines – Education experts have warned against a proposal to shorten college degree courses, saying the move may put Filipino students at a disadvantage over their foreign counterparts.
Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges president Tirso Ronquillo raised the concern before the House committee on higher and technical education that held a hearing on the proposal on Monday, August 6.
Ronquillo said the proposed shorter college courses may negate the K-12 program, which imposed additional years of study to align Philippine education with the rest of the world.
"As mentioned by other countries, our graduates were not at par [with other students] when they graduated from the Philippines because we lacked two years. If we subtract one year because we have two years in senior high school, it seems that senior high has no effect," he said.
Sorsogon 1st District Representative Evelina Escudero, former chairperson of the House committee on basic education and culture, also disagreed with the proposal.
Escudero said there had been cases where K-12 training was "not sufficient" as some higher education institutions (HEIs) subject students to bridging programs, which are usually offered when there is a mismatch between tracks taken in senior high school and courses they want to take in college.
“K-12 was not sufficient to give students sufficient training to enter college that’s why I do not suggest that we also lower or lessen the number of years for college kasi hindi pa rin sapat (because it’s still not enough),” she said.
Context: Under House Resolution 117, officials from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Department of Education (DepEd) were urged to jointly study, research, and consider shortening 5-year degree courses to 4 years, and 4-year degree courses to 3 years. The resolution was introduced in July 2016.
Why shorten courses? Authors of the resolution said less number of years in college will mean students can save on time and money. Meanwhile, poor students will be able join work and help their families sooner.
According to the proposal, a year of college may be eliminated as some general education courses usually taken at the university level are now included in the K-12 program.
Part of the vision of K-12 is to ensure that graduates will be ready for employment in various industries upon graduation from senior high school.
CHED programs specialist Aline Magalong said the commission “in general" supported and “welcomed” the proposal for a joint study and research with DepEd on the current college curricula.
Holistic review: Tirso instead suggested a review of the Philippine education system "as a whole," highlighitng that the DepEd, CHED, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority had policies that sometimes overlapped and were "misaligned."
"In as much as we have just implemented the K-12, now here comes another proposal of lessening the years [in college]. If we may suggest, lets have a more holistic way of looking at our educational system in the Philippines," Ronquillo said.
"If we lessen the number of years, we might have some problems or challenges in as much as Philiipine education is concerned," he added.
Lawmakers took up the proposal in a brief discussion during a committee on higher and technical education hearing.
No concrete decision was made though they agreed on further discussions on a possible inter-agency committee to review the country’s education system to check for possible improvements. – Rappler.com