A Competency-Based Curriculum
THE competency-based curriculum is supposed to be a response to long lingering allegations that more and more students who finish their respective courses do not have the competencies needed in the workplace. Found wanting by business, industry, and other employment institutions, these students hoped to be part of, they remain unemployed in search of jobs in places where their respective degrees are normally considered a pre-requisite.
Either they are overqualified degree-wise, or they do not have the expertise needed by prospective employers. Hence, the phenomenon of jobless college graduates or of graduates in jobs not necessarily related to their academic degrees.
Institutions of higher learning, sensitive to these challenges, keep tinkering with their curricula, teaching methodologies, use of technology, teacher training and other such measures all under the banner of making their course offerings relevant to the workplace. They reach out to business, industry and professional institutions in order to know what competencies these groups require. Hence, the emergence of the competency-based curriculum.
The basic context of the competency-based curriculum is a list of skills and techniques required by business, industry, and other employment places which are generally task-oriented to serve current and emerging needs - in more specific terms, what new graduates are expected to do as part of a given enterprise.
Indeed, this is a commendable initiative in terms of making educational institutions responsive to the preferences and requirements of the job market. It is also a strong marketing strategy for educational institutions as a "come on" for students aiming to land a job after graduation.
The teaching-learning linkages of institutions of higher learning with specific businesses or industries further enhance the exposure of students to prospective work places and crucial personalities in their respective courses. Consequently, and hopefully, students should find more meaning and relevance in the theoretical aspects of their courses under study. A great move, indeed, to make so-called classroom-teaching-learning processes more closely related to actual field realities.
Embarking on a competency-based curriculum is an intricate process for universities, whose curricula are normally a blend of tradition, creative insights of the administrators and faculty, and other such factors popularized by the very nature of being academic institutions vested with the academic freedom to innovate and introduce new perspectives into their academic endeavors.
The thrust towards a competency-based curriculum can be an exciting endeavor in terms of bringing hard realities into academe. It is a bold step to come down from the so-called "ivory tower" stance of academic institutions to take cognizance of enhancing their students' eventual employability.
On the other side, business, industry, and other employment institutions are pleased to have a say and be able to assure themselves of a prospective resource directly relevant to their needs and interests. In economic terms, they get what they want with less investment in on-the-job training, orientation programs, and other measures to make new employees part of a working culture.
The mutuality of arrangements and benefits arising out of a competency-based curriculum between academic institutions and employment agencies is a creative tension contributing to the wider goals of a given society. The academic process is tedious but the results are promising particularly in the marketability of courses to prospective students.
As part of an institution of higher learning engaged in the thrust towards a competency-based curriculum, I provide the following caveats in order to provide depth and perspective to the process:
(1) A competency-based curriculum must be anchored on a strong Liberal Arts foundation. In the flurry of identifying and compiling competencies from business, industry, and other employment institutions, one must not lose sight of the importance of the humanities, arts, culture - which develop and enhance the body, mind, and spirit of both the learners and the teachers in the teaching-learning process. Competencies cannot be taught and learned in a vacuum of ideas, ideals, and aspirations to the fullest capacities of human beings.
(2) The identification and classification of skills and techniques for a competency-based curriculum must be done in an acceptable and definite scientific method such that they are inclusive of a reliable sample of similar businesses and other employment agencies before incorporation into the curriculum. It is easy to assume that the competencies required of one employment agency are always representative of others in the same category - areas of differences and uniqueness must be well explored to arrive at competencies with a broader base. For instance, the competencies stated by one hotel may or may not be the same as those required of others in the hospitality industry. The same caution may be true of the medical and allied fields at least within a well-defined geographic and demographic area.
(3) The emergence of the competency-based curriculum brings into sharp focus the ideal balanced relationship between academe and industry; between theory and practice; between explicit and implicit vested interests. While it is of great importance for an academic institution to be guided by the needs and interests of business, industry, and other employment institutions, one must not lose sight of the fact that one of the classical functions of any institution of higher learning is to open up new horizons of consideration which may not necessarily be in the consciousness of employers. The university could espouse an advocacy for values infusion into a repertoire of skills and techniques which may be overlooked in the desire to perform tasks and responsibilities. For example, in the allied health services sector, an institution of higher learning could be an agent of paradigm shift from a singular discipline approach to health to a more integrated approach among health-related professions - doctors, nurses, nutritionists, pharmacists, medical technologists, therapists, etc. in the preventive, curative, rehabilitative and community-based health services such that they complement and supplement each other in the process of delivering health services.
(4) The element of quality control and upgrading competencies must feature prominently in a competency-based curriculum. It is not enough to identify skills and techniques per se. There must be emphasized the quality of skills and techniques in actual operations - high, medium, low level of actualizing a given skill such that basic skills and techniques are refined and upgraded in the process of service. On this score, a competency-based curriculum must be dynamic, pro-active, and progressive to stay relevant and significant. A concrete example of this point could be the competencies associated with tour-guiding in the tourism industry. The competency of providing basic information on cultural spots must be geared towards associating information with related social and economic developments in the country.
(5) The linkage and cooperation between academe and employment agencies in the emerging competency-based curriculum must be jointly institutionalized into other cooperative endeavors to achieve common objectives. This may cover the range of staff development programs, community outreach programs, and advocacies in specific issues of concern like climate change, eradication of corruption in public and private enterprise, reproductive health, etc. - issues relevant to both academe and employment agencies. The competency-based curriculum can become a point of entry for involvement in wider societal issues.
(6) The impact of globalization on both the internationalization of education and employment agencies must also be considered in the design of a competency-based curriculum. Competitive skills, techniques, and competencies in jobs without borders would be crucial. Cultural similarities and differences, unity in diversity, global hierarchy of priorities and preferences, prospects, and trends cannot be divorced from a competency-based curriculum.
I advocate a competency-based curriculum which goes beyond a repertoire of skills, techniques, and competencies to the realm of how these are delivered such that our human resources continue to be the masters of skills and techniques rather than the other way around, i.e., skills, techniques, and competencies becoming the masters of persons. The difference must be visible in fact and essence.…
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: A Competency-Based Curriculum. Contributors: Not available. Newspaper title: Manila Bulletin. Publication date: January 18, 2009. Page number: Not available. © 2009 Manila Bulletin Publishing Corp. COPYRIGHT 2009 Gale Group.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.