Wednesday, June 30, 2010

12 years of schooling

I am happy that during his campaign period, PNoy included in his platform the use of the mother tongue in education. This would certainly help facilitate his other platform -- the "every child a reader" program since it was found that children learn to read more quickly and with comprehension when texts they read are in their mother tongue (of course since it is the language that they understand the most). Aside from facilitating acquisition of reading skills, MTBMLE also makes education truly inclusive.

But what dismays me about his education platform is the first in the list-- implementation of the 12 years of schooling. Even my little kid who heard the news from TV queried why such move when we have a shortage of teachers, classrooms, desks etc? When I asked the proponents of longer schooling about the reason for such move, the only reason they can give is that we are the only of two remaining nations that have 10 yrs of schooling. The rest of the nations have 12 years. They cannot give any other reason. It does not make sense that we make such billions of pesos move when we only want to be like the rest. The only reason I can think of is that in our marketized system, education provides business to many.

Installing longer years of schooling presupposes that schooling is the only source of knowledge. Learning happens informally and nonformally and DepEd's role must increasingly towards the certification of learning. Such is the specific function given to BALS. Unfortunately due to the low passing rate of A&E exams (cannot go beyond 30%), they now require that every exam taker should go thru the BALS modules. What they should do instead is to make their assessment tools more attuned to the language and knowledge construction of their takers. Make the exams less dependent on paper and pencil tests and I am sure there will be more passers. Unschooled individuals are often streetsmart. They can understand their world and are able to function at work using their own Math and management skills. However exams are constructed in a very schoolish language and form.

Instead of longer schooling, what DepEd should do is to increase the quality of our ten year schooling. If that does not work then address the length of schooling. Extending the years of schooling of poor quality education would make education more oppressive to children and their family.

And if they are really bent on becoming like the rest of countries in the world with 12 years of schooling, then they should at least provide a means for acceleration, accreditation and equivalency so that learners who are able to acquire knowledge from non-school resources would not need to go endure the 12 years of schooling and have other options to gain that piece of paper called diploma.