IS it effective to teach language using literature? Is literature served well? Is language served well? Which is disadvantaged when both are integrated? How do you develop higher order thinking skills when teaching technology and home economics?
How do you connect diverse historical facts so students see the sweep and sense of history, the whys and wherefores of human decisions and historical events? How can one rationalize the teaching of three subjects (music, art and physical education) that require knowledge of each of the disciplines, and expect one teacher to successfully teach the three? How do you discuss Philippine social realities and situations like single parents, squatter families and the phenomenon of the overseas workers? How do you develop critical thinking, the ability to distinguish right from wrong, the assertiveness to make a stand on issues, while maintaining smooth interpersonal relationships? How do you teach Science and do experiments when laboratory equipment is lacking?
These and other questions about Philippine education, the curriculum, textbooks for the different subjects and its contents, methods of teaching and styles of learning, the use of English, Filipino and the vernacular in classes all over the Philippines, indigenization of the curriculum, and the students who are being taught in and out of formal school setting, are some of the issues being discussed in meetings, workshops and for a led by Secretary Andrew Gonzalez, curriculum specialists and teacher training officials at the Department of Education, Culture and Sports for the past months.
Revisiting the DECS
Several attempts and studies have been made in the past to update the DECS curriculum: The Monroe Survey Report in 1925, the first comprehensive assessment of the Philippine Educational System; The Committee on the Reform of Philippine Educational System in 1961 which concentrated on recommendations for curriculum development at the different levels; The Education Survey report of 1970, done by the Presidential Commission to Survey Philippine Education, headed by former Education Secretary Onofre Corpuz; where the secondary school curriculum was revised with emphasis on work and value orientation; in 1972, the Educational Development Decree was issued by then President Marcos, to make schools attuned to the themes and needs of the New Society, the year martial law was declared. In 1975, the SOUTELE (Survey of Outcomes of Elementary Education) came out with new proposals, which led to the Experimental Elementary Education Program (EEEP) in 1978. The Program for Decentralized Educational Development (PRODED) in 1981 trained teachers in the upgraded curriculum while The Education Act of 1982 emphasized basic education as embodied in the NESC (New Elementary School Curriculum) and the SEDP (Secondary Education Development Program) which was adopted 1983-88.
In 1992, the Congressional Commission on Education headed by Senator Edgardo Angara produced a detailed survey, study and recommendations to improve Philippine education contained in the Education Committee Report (EDCOM). Presently, two programs in DECS, the TEEP, Third Elementary Education Project and the SEDIP, the Secondary Education Development and Improvement Project include in these programs the review and implementation of the DECS curriculum which was embodied in the PELC (the Phil. Education Learning Competencies) for the different subject areas. However the target schools of these two programs are poverty affected provinces in the country.
Clearly, there have been substantial attempts to review, evaluate, improve, revise and update the DECS curriculum for the past decades. However, based on the recent NEAT (National Education Accreditation Test) and the NSAT (National Secondary Accreditation Test), students' competencies in the core subjects like reading, science and math reach levels that DECS would want to improve. …