Responding to changes in Government Regulations

Last July, a draft of the proposed Revised Manual of Regulations for the Operation of Private Schools was circulated and drew reactions from diff erent educational associations, including School of Tomorrow® Philippines. Position papers were submitted to the DepEd to beat the July 30 deadline for comments. There has been no update on the proposed Manual as of the writing of this article.

Curricular Provisions

     One of the salient features of the proposed Manual is the “removal of all expressed provisions” on curriculum concerns. Does this move protect private schools – especially those that, while fulfilling the minimum curricular requirements of the DepEd, have unique delivery modes like School of Tomorrow? Or does the proposed Manual provide more flexibility for private schools to choose their curricular offerings?

The following are the only “curriculum provisions” in the proposed Manual:

ARTICLE VI: FLEXIBLE LEARNING OPTIONS

Section 32. Authority for Off ering Flexible Learning Options.

     Private schools shall secure authorization from the Department to off er fl exible learning options such as Alternative Delivery Modes and Alternative Learning System. Further guidelines shall be promulgated for the application, approval and operations of fl exible learning options in private schools.

ARTICLE XII:CURRICULUM

Section 80. School Calendar

     The private schools may opt to deviate from the DepEd school calendar provided they do not start classes earlier than the 1st Monday of June and not later than the last day of August as provided for in RA 7797. The school calendar for each year should have a minimum of 190 class days but not to exceed 220 class days. In case of deviation from the DepEd school calendar, the private school needs to complete the minimum number of class days and notify the appropriate DepEd offi ce in advance regarding any deviation.

Section 81. Minimum Curriculum Requirements.

     Private schools shall comply with the minimum curricular standards required by DepEd. However, a private school may enhance/enrich the curriculum as the need arises.

Annex 3 Requirements for Application for DepEd Recognitionlet

     Item 5 – Curriculum including class programs duly signed by authorized representative of the school. The private school shall comply with the minimum curriculum standards required by DepEd. However, a private school may enhance/enrich the curriculum as the need arises.

     Provisions in the 2010 Manual used by School of Tomorrow® to defend the use of its System SOTP has been using the following provisions in the current Manual published in 2010 and amended in 2011 to uphold its use of the SOT system of education.

     The General Provisions of the Manual of Regulations, Section 4.4 states: Alternative Learning Systems. The State shall encourage non-formal, informal, and indigenous learning systems as well as selflearning, independent, and out-of-school study programs particularly those that respond to community needs.

     SECTION 9.1 – The curricular programs shall be suggestive patterns and models for guidance of field
officials and teachers. These may be enriched or modified to suit the needs of the learners and the conditions in the school and community, provided however, that any radical departure from the specifi ed subjects and curricula shall have the approval of the Secretary of Education.

     Section 118 under ENROLMENT OF STUDENTS states: Enrolment and Class Size. The enrolment and class size in every subject of each private school shall be determined by the school taking into account the total absorption capacity of its facilities, the level of instruction, the nature of the subject, and such other factors as may be conducive to the teacher learning process.

     Section 177 under METHOD OF TEACHING states: Policy. All private schools shall be allowed to adopt and use any acceptable method of teaching provided that it produces the results contemplated in the approved course of study. Teaching in all levels of instruction in private schools shall be humane, imbued with a civic and social conscience, and guided by the precept of parental love and responsibility as provided by law.

     These provisions must be reinforced in order to let private schools adopt a system or program of education that fits their specific vision and mission as schools.

     It is also recommended that “systems” or other curriculum programs generally accepted globally be allowed for use by private schools as long as they fulfil the minimum curricular requirements of the DepEd. The specific delivery modes will dictate the differences in facility requirements, staff requirements, and other aspects of learning and instruction like grading system and class programs.

     While the DepEd has moved into “learnercentered” curriculum, having “one-size-fi ts-all” curricular program does not meet the varying learner styles of students. Private schools must be free to choose from available options.

Position of a National Association of Schools

     The following is a quotation from the Position Paper of the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations of the Philippines (COCOPEA) embodying its comments and suggestions to the recently proposed amendments of DepEd Order 88, series of 2010:

     “DO 88 provides for the minimum curriculum standards that private schools must meet in order to be established or continue its operations. By removing the curriculum provisions, private schools will have no baseline guidelines to follow in order to be deemed compliant with DepEd standards. The clear policy on the minimum curriculum standards will likewise allow the Schools to benchmark to a higher or international standards prescribed by accrediting bodies.

     “Moreover, without an established guideline on curriculum embodied in the proposed Manual, private school curriculum guidelines are susceptible to confusion and abuse as future issuances can simply be promulgated to change the established curricula of various private schools.

     “In the alternative, a general provision providing for or granting private schools curriculum flexibility in order to afford the schools the ability to introduce modern and innovative education methods is recommended.”

How do schools using the SOT system respond to possible changes?

     The same way as before. BE FAITHFUL to the non-negotiables of the Learning Center procedures and the basic processes of the system. The SOT system meets the minimum curricular requirements of the DepEd and this has been proven in the changes in the education scenario in the last three decades. And, like in the past, schools provide for whatever added items the government requires both in terms of academics and facilities. The number of schools with permits and recognition, as well as the results of achievement tests, prove that the curriculum works. The SOT system is flexible enough to adjust to changes in government curricular requirements.

     There is a need to BE PROACTIVE when dealing with changes in government regulations. Not all changes are bad. The key is knowing what changes are being planned and responding based on the constitutional provisions on education. This involves knowing the rights and privileges of educational institutions and, more importantly, the rights of parents to choose the educational path of their children. In cases where changes will drastically affect the operation of private schools in general, and SOT schools in particular, there is power in “making an appeal” – negotiating and offering creative alternatives. But this has to be done before any new regulation is finalized.

     In the end, the best response is to recognize that any change in government regulations is a spiritual battle. BE PRAYERFUL. The battle for the lives of children is not against flesh and blood. The battle of Christian schools is not against government institutions. Spiritual battles are fought in the spiritual realm.

“Fight all your battles on your knees and win every time.” – Charles Stanley

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