International Education, The Way to Go

The new school year was launched off the pad with a new realization among various education stakeholders that more was needed to prepare students for a productive career. The Department of Education introduced its K plus 12 programme intended to further inspire high school graduates to be ready for work, even before they enter university. It is but another move that shows what this administration is willing to do in order to revamp old systems that used to work, but have now been overtaken by current realities. And the reality is that the Philippine educational qualifications of old have become inferior when measured against current global standards.

This bold move, however, was met by resistance, mainly on economic concerns of parents who now need to budget a couple more years of additional education per child under the new system.

Ironically, private schools which had the foresight to innovate or adopt international standards are in better position to comply with this new standard. Some of them already had in place the seventh grade, and may only need to add one more year to be rated K+12.

Inevitably, schools with a culture of innovation have better chances to embrace the current changes in the Philippine educational system. The CIE British School with campuses in Cebu, Makati and Tacloban is one such institution. Last year, it fully assimilated the British national curriculum into its own.

As practiced in the United Kingdom, its curriculum is organized into blocks of years called key stages. Each key stage sets the educational knowledge expected of students of various ages, namely: early years foundation stage (infant, toddler, nursery, reception), key stage 1 (Years 1 and 2), key stage 2 (Years 3 to 6), key stage 3 (Years 7 to 9), and key stage 4 (Years 10 to 12). The development from one key stage to the next ensures that there is continuity in the learning process of every student.

It was foresight and relentless research that enabled CIE to offer education that became ready for times like these. While developing its curriculum through the years, it was met with resistance by those who came from the traditional schools of thought. Some opined that the CIE curriculum was “too advanced” for young minds to cope, that the children would become “too stressed” to handle the academic rigor that it required.

But there is wisdom in setting up a strong educational foundation during the child’s early years. Twenty six years of development enabled CIE to produce nursery students who could read and comprehend what they were reading, grade schoolers who brushed up on their Powerpoint presentation skills, and high school kids who enjoyed producing Shakespearean plays and variety shows, and playing football as much as partnering with economically challenged families in a business enterprise.

Linking with top-ranked University of Cambridge of the United Kingdom at the turn of the millennium, CIE has given Filipinos and students of other nationalities the opportunity to earn qualifications that are “recognized by over 12,000 governments, educational institutions and corporations around the world.”

CIE is the pioneer international school in the Philippines providing University of Cambridge qualifications, from the English for Speakers of Others Languages (ESOL) suites to the University of Cambridge International Examinations. There are a dozen or so international schools in the country, but are they really international schools in the correct sense accepted by the academic world?

What makes an international school international? The traditional image of one is usually fixed on the international nature of its student body and faculty – a campus that is filled students who are children of expatriates, diplomats, missionaries and expatriate businessmen; a faculty of expatriate teachers, missionaries or Peace Corps volunteers. However, the most important components to truly determine an international school are its Qualifications, Accreditations and Curriculum. The qualifications that it provides must be recognized internationally, its operations accredited by a reputable international accrediting body or educational institution, and its curriculum accepted by other international institutions, thereby assuring the transferability of the credits earned by its students.

Is internationalization the way to go for Philippine education? For a country which provides human resources to the world by the millions, it definitely is. However, its primary objective should be to help equip those who are willing to work in foreign lands with the right qualifications that will land its citizens jobs in their respective fields of learning. It should be sending out to the world locally trained professionals who shall actually practice their professions there: teachers who shall teach, doctors who shall heal the sick, architects and engineers who shall design and build. The Philippines should aim to become the leading provider of highly qualified professionals in the world as well as young businessmen who are prepared to trade in the global market of what is now called a global village.

To help set the stage, CIE British School has set up standards accreditation for institutions teaching English language to those whose first language is not English. And it has a programme to prepare and provide qualifications for teachers who wish to teach abroad.

Earning genuine international education should not be the exclusive privilege of the wealthy in the Philippines. With the continuous development of curricula and other modes of educational delivery by innovators, and the crafting and implementation of educational policies that shall empower the learners, there is hope for the Filipino students and graduates to be recognized to be at par or better than their counterparts around the world.

Reference: Jeruel N. Roa

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