The Bureau of Curriculum Development of the Department of Education (DepEd-BCD) gathered supervisors and administrators of schools offering the Special Science Programs at the Tagaytay International Convention Center to draft the policy guidelines for the proposed Unified Science Program
Principals of Regional Science High Schools (RSHSs), Legislated Science High Schools (LSHSs), Science, Technology, and Engineering program implementers (STEs), and Special Science Elementary Schools (SSESs), including Regional and Division Supervisors from all over the country participated in the Consultative Meeting on the Different Science Programs, which is being held (as of this writing) from January 14-19, 2016.
Recognizing the fact that there is an increasing demand for STEM skills globally, that there is a decline in the interest of Filipino students in the STEM fields, and that our students are performing poorly in science and mathematics assessments, the DepEd-BCD aimed to improve the science and mathematics curriculum by revisiting the existing curriculum and drafting a set of policy guidelines for the implementation of a unified science program.
In the said consultative meeting, it was found out that the DepEd has yet to update its data on the schools that offer the special science programs, except for the 17 Regional Science High Schools, which annually submits it data to the national office. The BCD ran an online data gathering last year and based on the results, it was able to map 288 STE schools, 225 SSES schools, and eight LSHSs. The data, however, needs to be verified as there are regions that have not yet responded to the data gathering tool.
Another thing that was found out in the data gathering is that although the core subjects are the same — following the K-to-12 Enhanced Basic Education Program — the different schools are offering different add-on courses, and have different time allotment for each course.
What the BCD is now looking at is a science program that can be implemented nationwide that meets international standards. Dr. Ian June Garces of Ateneo de Manila mentioned that the Philippines is joining the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2018 and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) in 2019. The PISA is an assessment of what 15-year-old students must know and be able to do regardless of what curriculum is being taught in the schools of participating countries. Meanwhile, the TIMSS assess participating countries based on the curriculum of its schools. These international assessments are important in gauging the quality of our education and how our students fare compared to students in other countries.
It was also highlighted in the meeting that teachers play an important role in the achievement and interest of students in the science and mathematics fields. Thus, the DepEd is encouraged to invest in the training and development teachers, both pre-service and in-service teachers. The pre-service training for science and mathematics teachers must equip them for the spiral progression and integration of the different disciplines. The in-service teachers must also go through upgrading in teaching methodologies and approaches.
The meeting has been an avenue for administrators to air out their sentiments. One is regarding the incentives and promotion for teachers in the RSHSs. Principals worry that their best teacher are leaving the RSHS because promotion is slow and they don’t feel rewarded for all the pressures that they have to handle. Proposals include reducing the workload of teachers, increasing the salary, and employing a different policy for the system of promotion for teachers.
Alongside the consultative meeting curriculum writers are also developing curriculum guides for unified science programs. The curriculum is seen to be implemented in SY 2017-2018.