The 5-Year Curriculum: The problem or the solution?
See related article: Are you in favor of the five-year Nursing and Education curriculum?
Overloaded subjects. Insufficient time for practical training. Graduates who lack in skills and preparedness for the workplace.
These are the main reasons why the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) had proposed to add another year to the four-year curriculum in Nursing and Education courses, purportedly to improve the quality of education and produce globally competitive graduates.
But even before CHEd could rally support for its controversial proposal, they already got flak from the public and the academe, all doubtful whether this proposal would really solve the problem.
CHEd chairman Emmanuel Angeles said the Presidential Task Force for Education (PTFE) came up with this proposal in a bid to improve the current curriculum by adopting the Bologna Accord, the system of education being used in Europe.
"The five-year curriculum will give a better study structure for students. We are the one of only two remaining countries in the world with a 10-year basic education. The other is Botswana in South Africa. The rest have 12, 13 years of basic education. But we have a solution for that without adding one year in elementary and one year in high school. By adopting the Bologna Accord which requires a total of 15 years of education to obtain a bachelor’s degree, we will be globally at par with our neighbors," Angeles explains in an interview with the Students and Campuses Bulletin.
At present, freshmen Nursing students are using the CHEd Memorandum Order (CMO) 5 curriculum of "four school years plus three summer sessions’’ which was just implemented in the summer of 2008. The three other levels are using the old four-year curriculum.
PTFE has recommended the 10+2+3 scheme (10 years basic education, two years pre-university, and three years specialization) which was approved by the Cabinet in a meeting with President Arroyo last December.
"It’s a better curriculum because it complies with the global standards and gives Nursing students more time for clinical training, and Education students more time for practice teaching,’’ Angeles says.
Angeles also clarifies that contrary to perception, this new curriculum will be more cost efficient for students and parents.
"The subjects will be distributed over the five-year period. So what you save for the overloaded subjects and the three summers is more than enough. The ideal is 18 units per semester. Right now they have 28 to 30 units and they cram them into four years, that’s why they require in Nursing three summers. That’s the reason why we are trying to restructure our curricular offerings."
Under Phase I (AY 2009-2010) of the program, all existing five-year courses (Accountancy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Pharmacy) with PRC licensure examinations, as well as Education and Nursing shall follow the 10+2+3 system.
Engineering and Architecture programs, on the other hand, shall follow the 10+2+(3 or 4) in accordance with the Washington Accord, APEC Registry for Engineers and Architects and other international accrediting bodies.
Phase II (AY 2010-11) covers all four-year board and non-board programs which shall follow the 10+2+3 system in accordance with the Bologna Accord.
Angeles says they will conduct series of consultations with students, parents, faculty and school administrators starting March. If they are able to reach an agreement during this period, he reveals that they intend to implement the new curriculum for Nursing and Education this coming school year.
"We’re doing it gradually. Hopefully before 2020, which is the globalization, we would already be implementing Phase 2 and fulfill our ultimate goal of 10+2+3 in all courses," Angeles adds.
To effectively carry out this new education scheme, the PTFE said in its report that it will undertake several measures including the training of school administrators and teachers and conduct negotiations to urge schools to offer a Study-Now-Pay-Later and other financial programs to help bright but financially hard-up students cope with the demands of the new curriculum.
TOO MANY CURRICULA
Some people in the academe however do not believe that this is the solution to the prevailing problems in education.
For instance, Eduardo Fabella, academic coordinator of Manila Doctors College (MDC) says the issue of too many curricula may cause greater confusion.
"We were surprised that media got hold of the information before the schools. There was no consultation made. We are also at a loss as to what curriculum to implement. Right now there are two curricula being implemented — the CMO 5 that is being used by the first year students, and the older curriculum used by the second, third and fourth levels. Does this mean we will have a third curriculum running in the College of Nursing all at the same time?" he asks.
MDC Level 3 coordinator Niño Listones says that as it is, they have yet to see the effectivity of the CMO 5 which was just implemented in School Year 2008.
"I would recommend that the CMO 5 be continued since the competencies in the subjects are better. The problem lies on the schedule for the three summer sessions that they are required to take," Listones adds.
ESCALATING TUITION FEES
Moreover, Listones thinks the new five-year curriculum may decrease enrolment because of additional fees required for an additional year.
As it is, the cost of pursuing a Nursing course has escalated over the years, according to Related Learning Experience (RLE) clinical coordinator Cynthia Quintana.
"The five-year course is really enough for the competencies of the professional nurse, but during this time hindi na siya applicable because of the cost. Noon mura lang, ngayon quadruple na ang cost. When I graduated my tuition was R500 including our review. Ngayon about R50,000 per sem including miscellaneous fees," Quintana says.
Emilie Lopez, dean of MDC’s College of Nursing, points out that even if the government claims that tuition fee will remain the same under the new curriculum, there are still miscellaneous and incidental expenses that the parents, schools and students need to shoulder.
National Teachers College (NTC) dean of Instruction Dr. Leonisa Del Rosario says their students, mostly in the average to below average socio economic level, will suffer.
"Although we are a private university, we offer one of the lowest tuition fees (R340 per unit or R12,000 per sem) to cater to our students who come from average to poor families. They may not pay extra for the tuition fee with the new curriculum but they still have to pay for their board and lodging, transportation, materials, meals and this will definitely be a burden for them," Dean Del Rosario says.
The teacher education curriculum was last revised in 2005, to include more actual teaching work over and above practice teaching. Del Rosario says several one-unit subjects had been integrated into the new curriculum, with units almost doubling from 36 to 60. This, she adds, truly improved the Teacher Ed curriculum as it became stronger in content.
With the five-year program, Dean Del Rosario believes that fewer students would be enticed to take up the Education because this will mean longer time to start working and help their families. At present, there are around 2,000 students taking the three Teacher Education programs in NTC, a significant decrease from the past years.
On the other hand, NTC president Dr. Priscilla Arguelles says she is more in favor of a lengthened curriculum in Basic Education which is considered the formative years of a child. The number of students in a classroom should also be reduced to make it more conducive to learning.
"It’s the way you bring out the subject matter, in the way you teach. It’s not in the length but it’s in the quality of education that you deliver to the students. The additional number in years is not a guarantee that we will produce more qualified, competent graduates. What happens between the four and five years will make the difference."
LOW PASSING RATE, MORE NURSING SCHOOLS
MDC Level 1 coordinator Monique Espinosa shared that the very low national passing rate (approximately 50 percent or less) in the Nursing board exams and the proliferation of smaller nursing schools (400 plus and still counting) may also be the reasons why CHEd is pushing for a reform in the Nursing curriculum.
"CHEd also has to consider their role in strictly implementing policies when it comes to Nursing curriculum, specifically in the area of RLE where students are able to hone their skills. Kahit gaano kaganda curriculum mo, kung ang estudyante walang venue or sites for learning like hospitals or any clinical affiliates they won’t be able to practice what they have learned in the classroom. They should also be strict in monitoring nursing schools with poor board exam outcome. If they don’t deliver, they should be closed. Kailangan quality, hindi puro curriculum ang laging papalitan," says MDC Level 2 coordinator Elisa Hubac.
But Ricarte Gapuz Jr., licensed nurse and owner of the R.A. Gapuz Review Center, the country’s largest review center, does not think that closing down the smaller nursing schools is a solution.
"We can find diamonds even in the smaller schools. Based on my own experience of running a review program for the past 15 years, six of those who emerge as topnotchers are coming from small schools in the provinces," says Gapuz who also provides scholarships to deserving students in various courses through his foundation.
What needs to be done, Gapuz recom-mends, is to change the core curriculum, remove the subjects which are not relevant; bring back the three safeguards for those who want to take up Nursing; and extensively train administrators in both big and small nursing schools.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
To prepare nurses for the workforce, more practical subjects should be integrated in the curriculum, Gapuz says. For instance, "Transcultural Nursing’’ which tackles the health problems of foreign patients should take the place of World Civilization. Filipino subjects, he adds, should also be lessened to allow students more time and give them energy to study the major subjects.
"Instead of Filipino grammar, why don’t we include the study of foreign language such as Nihonggo, Spanish or Italian to make graduates more adept when they apply for work in Japan, Spain and Italy where there is a high demand for nurses," he stresses.
English subjects, Gapuz adds, should also be related to Nursing.
"Since there are requirements for IELTS, TOFEL, TWE in getting nursing licensure exams abroad, why can’t we do it in such a way that English 1 would be TWE, English 2, TOFEL, English 3 IELTS? So that ang requirement mo sa students the moment they finish the subject they have to pass the actual IELTS test so yun ang grade nila. Kung hindi sila nakapasa ibig sabihin failed din sila sa subject. This is needed if they really want to address the issue of globalization," he points out.
BRINGING BACK THE SAFEGUARDS
Meanwhile, he said the low national passing rate for nursing maybe also be attributed to the removal of three safeguards (NCEE, school entrance exam and nursing requirement of belonging to the upper 40 percent of class) which used to serve as excellent guidelines for the selection of aspiring nursing students.
"During our time katakot takot na requirements para makapagtake ng Nursing. May NCEE. Pag pumasa ka pa pero mababa sa 95 percentile ayaw ka pa kunin ng good school. May entrance exam pa sa school na papasukan mo. And with the old Nursing law, hindi ka puede mag Nursing kung wala ka sa upper 40 percent of the graduating class. Because you are dealing with lives, there’s no second chance," he says.
Gapuz stresses that it’s not in the school, in the lengthening of the curriculum but in the quality of the curriculum, in the graduates we produce and in the teachers that teach them.
Gapuz also called on the government to give the students the chance to speak up, voice their opinions and include them in decision-making, in drafting policies that they themselves will benefit. "The young should be given a chance to say their piece. They can best decide for their future," he concludes.
Article Source: Manila Bulletin
The 5-Year Curriculum: The problem or the solution?