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HEIs cushion negative impact of K to 12 through senior high

(First in a series)

Higher education institutions (HEIs) are biting the bullet as the full implementation of senior high school (SHS), under the new K to 12 (Kindergarten to Grade 12) basic education program, begins this school year 2016-2017 with the launch of Grade 11.

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Decreased enrollment in college resulting from the full implementation of SHS will result in reduced teaching loads for faculty members and a significant drop in the income of HEIs.

Moreover, in its Memorandum Order No. 20, Series of 2012, the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) says, “Some subjects previously included in General Education (GE) in college will now be taken up in SHS, resulting in a reduced number of required GE units in college from 64 to 36.”

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For private HEIs that rely primarily on tuition and other students’ fees, waiting out the next two years when there will be very few—even no—freshman enrollees, the transition is particularly difficult.

CHEd projected faculty displacement to average 12.4 percent of the estimated total of 109,896, with nonpermanent teachers most affected at 17.3 percent of 60,468. Nonteaching staff displacement could reach 19.8 percent of a total of 57,718, with nonpermanent employees most adversely affected at 34.6 percent of 13,780.

Minimal disruption

But contrary to what some politicians would like the public to believe—to earn “pogi” points from voters this election season—HEIs have been bracing themselves for the lean years as early as four years ago when it became apparent that the country would adopt the K to 12 program, not just because the law was going to be passed but also because they could read the signs that the Philippine educational system was lagging way behind those in other countries.

With years to plan for this, the disruption would be minimal, according to Ma. Sonia R. Araneta, director of Ateneo de Manila University’s Communication and Public Relations Office.

Araneta said that, as early as 2012, even before K to 12 became compulsory, Ateneo was already preparing for the drop in freshmen enrollment, “without compromising quality and selectivity.” She said they conducted analyses based on historical trends and estimated that this year, they could expect a 30-percent drop in freshman enrollment or about 600 to 700 less new students.

Ateneo did not expect the SHS’ full implementation to have a “drastic” effect, Araneta said, as “many of our feeder schools (institutions whose students traditionally go to Ateneo) are K to 12 ready.” These schools were already graduating SHS students.

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She said Ateneo expected “at least 1,400 freshmen in 2016 and at least 1,500 freshmen in 2017, which is about a 30-percent drop in freshman enrollment.”

Decrease manageable

But, if the whole student population in all year levels would be considered, this meant less than 5-percent decrease in 2016 and about 10 percent in 2017, “which is manageable,” Araneta said.

As a result, Ateneo did not have to scrap or cancel any programs.

As for teachers, Araneta said, “The load of our faculty will be reconfigured in the next two years as we adjust to the different sizes of freshman cohorts.” She said different departments would feel the K to 12 effects in different school years but reductions in load assignments would be minimal and would affect mainly part-time and contractual faculty members.

Many HEIs are hoping to ease the pain of transition, particularly on faculty members who will be idled in the next two years, by offering SHS themselves. Araneta said, “We also have the option of sharing our faculty with our senior high school for those two years since the high school plans to increase enrollment during those years.”

The De La Salle University (DLSU) Taft campus is also offering SHS to make use of faculty and facilities during the transition period. Like “rival” Ateneo, DLSU also does not expect zero college freshman enrollment as several of its feeder schools have started

offering SHS and have graduated students.

In an interview immediately after his investiture, DLSU president Brother Raymundo Belardo Suplido, FSC, said they were encouraging college faculty members, who would not have enough teaching loads during the transition, to teach in the new SHS. Suplido said the arrangement would benefit both college teachers, as they would be able to continue teaching, and students as they would be better prepared for college.

Lydia Brown, media center director of the Philippine Women’s University (PWU), said the university’s basic education program, K to 12, was offered through Jasms (Jose Abad Santos Memorial School). Starting this year, PWU’s General Education (Gen Ed) college faculty would have the option to teach in SHS or to join graduate school faculties.

Gilian G. Virata, Jasms executive director, echoed Suplido’s statement that having college faculty members teach Grades 11 and 12 would help students as they would be learning from experts in fields that they might later want to pursue in college. She added, “With PWU’s trimester system, a student can earn a college degree in three years even with the additional two years of Grades 11 and 12 if they come to PWU.

She said they were pointing this out to parents who were concerned that SHS would mean an additional two years of educational expense.

Challenge or fulfillment

Although PWU’s GE teachers had the option to teach in SHS, “each case will have to be assessed to ensure the best possible terms for all” and to comply with Department of Education (DepEd) guidelines, Virata said. Salaries in secondary education would be lower than college teaching rates, but she said “some college faculty (members) may want to work part-time in SHS as a challenge or for fulfillment. Higher remuneration is often not the primary reason for wanting to teach.”

Virata said tenure of college faculty member would not be affected as long as he/she “remains a full-time employee of PWU, whether in the HEI or in Jasms.”

Brown said PWU president Dr. Francisco B. Benitez and Virata were looking into the possibility of offering SHS to public school students, which is being encouraged by DepEd.

“Our Jasms campuses have low students-to-teacher ratios to ensure enough attention is given to all students. We have to adjust our current model to be able to provide equivalent standards within or close to the amounts of the DepEd vouchers,” Virata said.

Dr. Amado Saquido, vice president for academic affairs of the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P), said theirs was a small school with about 85 percent of students coming from private schools. Some of their feeder schools were already compliant with the K to 12 basic education curriculum and would have graduates in 2016 and 2017, he said.

In spite of this, Saquido said they still expected fewer freshmen this year and even less in 2017, “but not zero,” as other schools would only be starting to offer SHS.

Alternative revenue streams

“We will basically optimize our General Education faculty during the next two years, i.e., rely on our permanent full-time faculty (employ part-timers only as needed), get some of them involved in short courses/programs that we already have and others that we will craft. Some may temporarily teach in partner secondary schools that are still building up their own SHS faculty, or step up their research,” he said.

“We will try to keep the remaining full-time faculty (we have limited new hires for some time now), who will not have their regular loads, busy with various short courses that we will run. Part-timers will be on call,” he said.

Saquido added that during the lean years, “we will also be focusing on other alternative revenue streams.” He added, “We have not suspended/scrapped programs…We still hope to get our projected number of freshmen (although it is) a fraction of the usual yearly intake.”

Saquido said they also launched other programs that could help make up for the shortfall. UA&P, for instance, is now offering a six-year integrated university program. The program is “intended to provide Grade 10 graduates with a master’s degree in only six years.”

The UA&P program offers incoming Grade 11 students with two years of senior high school, three years of undergraduate program and one year of master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications, Humanities, Management, Industrial Economics or Political Economy. Approved by DepEd and CHEd, the program is designed to have a strong liberal arts foundation, complemented by the university’s mentoring program.

Scholarships, financial grants

Scholarships and financial grants are available for Grade 11 students wanting to enroll in the integrated program.

Also offering SHS to make up for the drop in freshman enrollees is the Technological Institute of the Philippines (TIP). Vice president Jemuel Castillo said both its Manila and Quezon City campuses would offer Grades 11 and 12 starting this school year. “Hopefully, the number of enrollees for the senior high school…will offset whatever number of students (TIP) will lose during the transition period….”

He said TIP was also looking for ways to minimize the negative impact on its faculty, with “some of our teachers being offered to teach in senior high school….”

TIP is also hoping the government can help its faculty during the transition. Castillo said CHEd was asking Congress for money to establish programs that would enable faculty members to pursue funded complimentary work during the transition, including graduate and/or post-graduate studies, research, community extension services, production of learning materials, etc.

Like most HEIs, TIP will also offer only the academic track in its SHS.

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TAGS: basic education program, Education, HEIs, higher education institutions, K to 12, Kindergarten to Grade 12, Ma. Sonia R. Araneta, Senior High School
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