Five-year nursing and other courses, boon or bane?

Published by rudy Date posted on January 29, 2009

Beginning February 15, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) will start consultations with colleges and universities on its decision to raise nursing from a four-year to a five-year course. By the beginning of the new school year in June, CHED said it would start to implement the plan.

Some parents and students quickly raised a howl against the proposal, saying it will mean an additional financial burden to them. They pointed out that instead of the government democratizing access to education, it is taking it farther away from the reach of the poor.

Adel Tamano, president of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, shot the plan down as untimely and uncalled for. At a time when the people are reeling from the impact of the global economic crisis, he said parents would find it harder to cope with the soaring costs of education with the CHED proposal.

Perhaps they should pay more attention to the reasoning behind the move.

CHED Chairman Emmanuel Angeles explains that there is a pressing need to keep our educational standards at par with those of the United States and other developed countries. The increase by one additional year brings about vast improvements into the current system.

Chairman Angeles, who is also vice chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Education, said these improvements are in line with CHED’s recommendations submitted the President in December.

He said that the new system institutionalizes the reality on the ground. Most students taking these four-year courses actually take five years to complete them. With the improvement, the Philippine courses now meet the standards in advanced countries.

Instead of making the cost of finishing these courses more expensive, Chairman Angeles explained, it makes it cheaper. This is because under the old system, the graduates have to take review courses and other means to make themselves globally competitive. As graduates of the five-year system, they immediately meet the standards that are recognized globally.

Regarding the additional year for nursing, he explained that it would be devoted to sharpening skills and to review classes. That will make it unnecessary for graduates to enroll in separate nursing review centers. He adverted to the leakage in the 2006 nursing licensure examination, which had been traced to a review center as the source.

CHED had ordered review centers to “tie up” with higher educational institutions but the centers protested, prompting the Supreme Court to order a status quo.

Some educators have hit CHED and the Department of Education about raising the number of years for students to finish their chosen courses, claiming that this does not guarantee improvements in the state of education today.

They think the government should instead reduce the time for students to finish school rather than prolonging it. In pre-World War II days, in 1941, the elementary course was reduced from seven to six years and it worked well. Sixth-year graduates found themselves competitive with seventh-year graduates in their first year together in high school.

But that was because the quality of teachers was higher then.

Today’s lower-quality graduates are the results of the low quality of basic-education teachers, substandard school facilities and overcrowding of students, which is as many as 60, or more, in one class. We are losing many good teachers to overseas employment because of the low salary offered by the government.

Education is looked up to by parents as a lofty goal for their children not only for their social and moral improvement but also for making them better prepared in the race for a better life.

It is the ultimate legacy parents can leave to their children.

The improvements that the CHED is introducing will benefit those who have reached the collegiate level. But much more must be done about basic education.

Pitiful plight of education plan holders

Several parents have complained against the closure of three pre-need companies in which they have invested much of their life savings for the education of their children. They have asked how they can get their money back with the firms’ dissolution even before they could obtain the regulator’s approval.

The three companies are the Legacy Consolidated Plans, Inc., Scholarship Plan Philippines, Inc., and the All Asia Plans Corp.

For many years, plan holders have painstakingly paid their premiums to the pre-need firms in the expectation that when their insured children reach college, they are assured of the companies’ funding obligation under their contracts. But with the three firms’ closure, how can the parents avail themselves of justice?

Fe Barin, chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, said that if the firms had committed estafa, the agency would file the necessary complaints against them with the Department of Justice.

She had asked the plan holders to submit the appropriate documents required in filing a claim for reimbursement, saying refunds could be made from the firms’ preserved trust funds or other assets.

We could not imagine how it was possible for the pre-need firms to become bankrupt. Their losses could have come from gross mismanagement, not from the global financial crunch as their executives have claimed. –Alfredo G. Rosario, Manila Times

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