UP faculty, groups reject ‘robotic’ curriculum reforms, call for unity

(BULATLAT FILE PHOTO by A. Umil/ Bulatlat)
(BULATLAT FILE PHOTO by A. Umil/ Bulatlat)

By GINO ESTELLA
Bulatlat

Teachers’ groups in the University of the Philippines (UP) warned students on the return of proposed reforms to the university’s general education (GE) program, an issue they faced earlier this year.

In a press conference Oct. 4, teachers from progressive teacher union Congress of Teachers and Educators for Nationalism and Democracy UP (CONTEND-UP) called out to the students of the university to unite against the lowering to 21 units, equivalent to seven subjects.

UP’s current GE subjects comprise of 45 units, or 15 subjects, covering various disciplines in arts and humanities, social sciences and philosophy, mathematics, science and technology.

“We strongly oppose this proposal as it remains to show any sound basis for such an action,” said the group in statement. “(It) will have severe effects on the quality of education the university gives to its students and the kind of students the university will produce.”

UP SAGIP GE, an alliance of faculty and students also opposed the proposal.

“If this happens, UPD will have the lowest number of GE units not just in the entire UP System and but also in the whole country. This in effect will kill the soul of UP, particularly the critical, nationalist and service-oriented spirit UP graduates are known for, cultivated as such by UP Diliman’s GE program and intellectual environment on campus,” said SAGIP GE Spokesperson and UP Journalism Professor Danilo Arao.

The state university’s GE program has undergone numerous changes through the decades, allowing students to select GE subjects in a cafeteria-like system. Since 2012, prescribed subjects comprise half of the curriculum, giving students leeway to choose the other half.

For the past two years, educators in the university have made moves to reform the GE program, with the most recent proposing the GE program be completely prescribed to the students as part of the implementation of the K-12 program.

The UP administration is selective in choosing examples and experiences, Arao said. He said the proposed reform brings the university to a nature of market-driven internationalization.

Meanwhile, UP College of Education Professor Eufracio Abaya stressed the role of education to expand one’s consciousness. The proposed reform, they said, focused on education in practical terms; a means for one’s personal gain.

The University Council, a decision-making body formed by tenured faculty of the university, is set to meet on Oct. 17, to decide whether to forward the proposed GE reform to the Board of Regents.

“We have to ensure that we will be opposing,” Arao said. “The data are on our side, and they have not produced a single position people on their side.”()

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