Bills to mandate ethics, foreign language subjects for tertiary education deferred
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives committee on higher and technical education has deferred two bills seeking to institutionalize the teaching of ethics and foreign language subjects at the tertiary level, pending a six-month study from the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd).
During the hearing of the committee on Monday, members of the panel agreed to postpone voting on House Bills (HBs) 1724 and 4350 after CHEd Chair Prospero de Vera III pointed out that ethical lessons are already included in the curriculum and that certain universities provide foreign language courses.
De Vera said that while they welcome HB No. 1724’s purpose, lawmakers and CHEd should first evaluate how ethics is taught in the country so they can include suggestions in the bill.
“Mr. Chair, in the new curriculum that was put together after Senior High was added to the K-12 program, there is already a three-unit course on ethics in the general education program. That was started if I am not mistaken in 2016 when we started the new curriculum for all degree programs,” de Vera told committee chair Baguio City Rep. Mark Go.
“We do not know yet what has — how it has been taught and whether it has been taught effectively and what is the impact of this,” he added.
However, the study from CHEd would take at least six months.
De Vera said study results can help Congress understand the philosophy and rationale of integrating these disciplines into the general education program. He said he’s as interested as Congress in knowing if the chosen ethics framework is what they want.
It will take more than 15 days, he added, or maybe six months if they get some early evaluation on the ground, to conduct complete research because they require classroom competency to establish how it is taught.
HB No. 1724 author and Laguna 2nd District Rep. Ruth Mariano-Hernandez agreed but noted that she wants a law to be passed as ethics subjects are currently being taught because it was a prerogative of CHEd — which means it could be added or removed from the curriculum.
“We know po if it will just be a policy of CHEd they can change that anytime unlike po if it is passed into law then it is mandated to all HEIs (higher educational institutions) so that’s my concern too, Mr. Chair,” she said.
She voiced her concern that the current policy can’t be changed, but that would change if it were made a law and schools were required to teach it.
De Vera said in addition to UP and WVU’s extensive language offerings, many public universities would welcome the opportunity to offer Korean classes but lack the necessary instructors. Together with the Korean government, they’ve been working on this.
The Confucius institutes of these four Philippine universities offer Chinese language courses.
According to De Vera, if all colleges and universities were required to offer foreign language courses, instructors wouldn’t be enough to meet demand. SUCs will have to hire more teachers and compete with private schools, many of which are experiencing financial difficulties.
“And if there are enough faculty members, they must be qualified for civil service rules — and I am concerned Mr. Chair that this will be an imposition on small private schools who are already financially struggling as of now,” he added. —With reports from Alyssa Joy Quevedo, INQUIRER.net trainee
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