"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Monday, August 17, 2015

To Be Globally Competitive

Two years ago, US president Obama talked about the central mission of providing education to children so that they are prepared for global competition. What it means to be globally competitive seems straightforward from the perspective of the United States. Obama said, "In an age where business knows no borders, jobs are going to seek out the countries that have the most talented skilled citizens." Obama clearly refers to jobs coming into the US. Obama is talking about the US producing more because its citizens are better equipped and prepared. The US is therefore concerned that its students are not in the top when it comes to international standardized exams. In this light, doing well in math, science and language are seen as good indicators for global competitiveness. These disciplines are considered as key elements in producing a citizenry that is globally competitive.

The Senior High School years of DepEd's K to 12 carry the same objective.

Above copied from DepEd Order No. 36, s. 2012
The above order also talks about equipping students with the necessary skills required by industries and the business sector. The first paragraph even hints about a mismatch between what is currently taught in school in the old curriculum and what is required by employers. To understand "globally competitive", as used in the above DepEd's order, it is important to look at what is actually inside the Senior High School curriculum. Since these additional years are yet to be offered, one can look instead at what is taught in some schools in the Philippines. The representative from the Alliance of Concerned Teachers, Antonio Tinio, posted a photograph on Facebook that describes, for instance what grade 7 children are learning.

These are Tinio's words in describing the photo above:
Spent a very enlightening morning in the classroom of a Grade 7 TLE teacher in a big public high school somewhere in the Visayas. At the moment, she's teaching Caregiving. Under the new K to 12 curriculum, the current grading period is devoted to teaching Caregiving. It's an "exploratory" short course that all Grade 7 students in the school are required to take. 
Let that sink in. The traditional notion about education is that it's supposed to expose young people to the world of possibilities and enable them to be all that they can be. In Aquino's K to 12 curriculum, Filipino students at a young age are exposed to Caregiving in a foreign land as a possible career choice.
To understand what "globally competitive" may actually mean in DepEd's K to 12, the following map from Business Insider may be helpful:

Above copied from the Business Insider
Simply cruising through I-95, the eastern seaboard, from Maine, through the states of New York, New Jersey. Maryland and Virginia, down to the state of Florida, the most common jobs held by immigrants is housekeeping. DepEd's K to 12's use of "globally competitive" is therefore not necessarily the same as how US president Obama uses the term. For Obama, education must be tailored for jobs to come and stay in the US. For DepEd's K to 12, it seems education must be tailored for jobs overseas.

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