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Speaking, like any other skills, can be learned. This study is anchored on the belief that all individuals are capable of mastering speaking skills and can use this skill (among others) to fully function in a society. This communication principle is the rationale behind the inclusion of Oral Communication in the General Education Curriculum in higher education and now in the Senior High. Oral communication shapes and in one way or another, controls our society. Thonssen as cited in King (2006) claimed that Rhetoric (one important field of Oral Communication) is an instrument that has functional value in social order.
In fact, Leonard Cox (1899), in his book The Arte or Crafte of Rhetorike, argued that it can be used by educators, prosecutors in courtrooms, princes and ambassadors, teachers of God and even by those people who have something to propose to an assembly. Oral communication is powerful and influential that it can be integrated in different disciplines. It is true that speaking is a means by which people live together more effectively and harmoniously and that it is an indispensable instrument of social adaptation and cooperative living. With the vast application and importance of Oral Communication in society, it is then no doubt that Oral Communication was an important General Education curriculum, and is now included to the new K+12 policy. According to academicians “It is the province of speech training to see that our speech is adequate to communicate efficiently under ever changing and expanding conditions.” (Weaver and Ordean, 1963: 3}. Because of these changing trends in communication, many schools are now requiring their students to enroll in various oral communication classes. Different colleges and universities offer a degree course on Oral Communication as a preparation for a career.
Even the United States of America has started to include this course as a prerequisite subject for graduation as early as the eighteenth century. Senior students must take courses in logic while freshmen were to enroll in rhetoric and elocution classes. These developments were not only a manifestation of the qualification the globally-competitive industries demand but also an implicit demonstration of the integral function of Oral Communication in all aspects of the society. Boileau and Friedrich (1999) believed that speaking and listening skills are two essential skills that must start in the early years of life and must not stop even when the basics of speaking have taken place. They argued that human speaking skills must be continually modified and improved through learning of new vocabulary, developing distinctive speaking patterns, and most importantly discerning which “talk” can be used to achieve goals.
Given all the undeniable importance of Oral Communication in the society, the researcher is even more curious about how to further improve the subject now it has been transferred to the senior high school of the K+12 curriculum. Since education is deemed crucial in directing any nation’s stability, it is necessary that the various curricula that are being offered in the education system of the country are probed on to continuously enhance and cater to the specific needs of the stake holders as well as the labor market. With the implementation of the Republic Act No. 10533 which aims to enhance the Philippine basic education system by strengthening its curriculum and increasing the number of years for basic education, majority of the general education courses in the tertiary level of the Commission on Higher Education are relegated to the senior high school level of the Department of Education. Included in these general education courses is the Oral Communication. The purpose of the said Republic Act is to “develop productive and responsible citizens equipped with the essential competencies, skills and values for both life-long learning and employment” (Congress of the Philippines, 2012:1). To achieve such goal, the curriculum must be developed in collaboration with the Commission on Higher Education, the government agency that once offered the core courses that are to be offered in senior high school. Oral communication is clearly deemed to be an important course in an individual’s academic life. Morreale et al (2000) conducted a study that identified the importance of oral communication as a rationale for their plan of centralizing the study of communication under the National Communication Association. With the strong evidences of the importance of this course, experts and researchers in this field had tried to further develop the course through the years.
Weide (1995) conducted a study that sought to determine the various apprehension levels of high schools students with regard to their oral communication skills, the benefits students get from the course, the preparation of oral communication teachers, and the curriculum employed by the other schools. In addition, Abdullah (2011) examined the use of pairworks in enhancing oral communication skills in a school in the United Arab Emirates. In another study, Rajman (2010) determined if a Task-Based Approach could be useful in teaching oral communication in a school in India. While there are a number of studies that focused on the different aspects of oral communication in relation to the enhancement of the teaching of the course, there is a limited literature on the evaluation of the oral communication curriculum in the Philippines. Accordingly, this study analyzed the curricula offered in various colleges and state universities in Region IV-A which can serve as basis for the enhancement of Oral Communication course for the Senior High School Program. REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE GENERAL EDUCATION IN THE PHILIPPINES National Policy.
When Batas Pambansa 232 or “An Act Providing for the Establishment and Maintenance of an Integrated System of Education” was approved by former Pres. Ferdinand Marcos in 1982, the principles if not the actual name of General Education were already widely accepted. In Section 3, “Declaration of Basic Policy,” the law states that “It is the policy of the state to establish and maintain a complete, adequate and integrated system of education…” In Section 4, “Declaration of Objectives,” the first aim of the education system is to “provide for a broad general education that will assist each individual in the peculiar ecology of his own society…” Both the 1973 Constitution and the 1987 Constitution, however, do not directly state a commitment to General Education.
However, they affirm some principles of liberal education, even if they do not do so in direct relation to tertiary education in the country. In its Article XV on “General Provisions,” in Section 8, Number 4, the 1973 Constitution stresses that “All educational institutions shall aim to inculcate love of country, teach the duties of citizenship, and develop moral character, personal discipline, and scientific, technological and vocational efficiency.” Nevertheless, the 1987 Constitution Article XIV on “Education, Science and Technology, Arts, Culture and Sports,” in Section 3, Number 2 states that all educational institutions “shall inculcate patriotism and nationalism, foster love of humanity, respect for human rights, appreciation of the role of national heroes in the historical development of the country, teach the rights and duties of citizenship, strengthen ethical and spiritual values, develop moral character and personal discipline, encourage critical and creative thinking, broaden scientific and technological knowledge, and promote vocational efficiency.” In 1994, through Republic Act 7722, the Commission on Higher Education or CHED was created. It is an entity distinct from the Department of Education, Culture and Sports and attached, for administrative purposes, to the Office of the President. Its jurisdiction is “both public and private institutions of higher education as well as degree-granting programs in all post-secondary educational institutions, public and private” (Republic Act No. 7722, 1994). The creation of the CHED was a response to the widely-felt need to improve the quality of higher education, improve the percentage of college and university graduates who pass the government licensure examinations, heighten the competencies of graduates in oral and written communication, and create a body that will focus on addressing these needs (Calderon 2004). University of the Philippines.
In the Philippines, the recognized leader in General Education is the University of the Philippines (UP). UP President Vicente G. Sinco, whose term covered the period 1958-1962 is generally recognized as the initiator of the university’s General Education Program (GEP). But even before he instituted the university’s GEP, UP was already offering what was called “preparatory courses” for subsequent specialization in various disciplines. These courses are required for all students regardless of their majors, and included English, Spanish and Philippine Institutions (Guerrero, 1985). As UP president, Sinco promoted research and scholarship in the sciences and humanities and opposed political and sectarian interference in university affairs. He also reformed the curriculum, “implemented a general education scheme for the initial two years of college…” He encouraged intellectual activity in UP through various initiatives (National Historical Institute 2012). Sinco’s GEP prescribed 63 units which students had to take before they go into taking courses in their majors (Guerrero, 1985). Succeeding UP presidents introduced innovations within the framework of Sinco’s GEP. UP President Salvador P. Lopez, whose term covered the years 1969-1975, saw the granting to students of an option: take a combination of English and Filipino, or choose either one of these two. Lopez came to the UP presidency at a time of nationalist intellectual ferment, and it was at this time that the Filipino was seriously considered as a medium of instruction for different courses (Evangelista 1985). In the following years, UP campuses across the country offered their versions of the GEP.
It was in 1986, under the presidency of Edgardo Angara whose term lasted from 1981 to 1987,that the GEP was made uniform across the university’s campuses in the country. A UP student, no matter where he or she is enrolled in the university’s constituent units across the country, is required to take twelve (12) courses. The values which the courses promoted were defined and multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches to teaching the courses were introduced (Kintanar, 1991). The GEP underwent review and assessment processes in 1991, 1992 and 1995. UP President Francisco Nemenzo Jr., whose term lasted from 1999 to 2005, claimed these reviews as basis for implementing the Revitalized General Education Program or RGEP in 2001. It was later subsumed in the GEP. The RGEP introduced the following shifts in the GEP: (1) From taking prescribed courses, students were allowed to choose courses within three domains of knowledge – namely, Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences, and Natural Sciences and Mathematics, (2) The number of units were increased from 42 to 45, (3) New GE courses were created, (4) Other departments were involved in the creation and offering of new courses (Nemenzo, 2001). UP presents the following as the general objectives of the RGEP: (1) To broaden students’ intellectual and cultural horizons; (2) To foster students’ commitment to nationalism balanced by a sense of internationalism; (3) To cultivate in students a capacity for independent, critical and creative thinking; and (4) To infuse in students a passion for learning with a high sense of moral and intellectual integrity. UP presents the following as RGEP’s particular objectives: (1) To enable students to acquire basic skills and competencies in mathematics, reasoning and communication; (2) To develop students’ awareness, understanding and appreciation of the various disciplines of the natural sciences, social sciences, humanities and philosophy; and (3) To develop students’ ability to integrate and/or adapt the knowledge and skills they have acquired from the various disciplines (UP-Diliman Office of the Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs, 2012).
Critics of the RGEP questioned the absence of required core subjects and the program’s refusal to prescribe an ideal combination of courses to students. They identified problems depending on students’ response to subjects, with some RGEP advocates justifying students’ refusal to take professors who are thought to be boring, tyrannical, or simply not interesting.
They believed that the university’s criteria for relevance may not necessarily match students’ criteria for selecting subjects – which were still evolving. As a result, relevant subjects would not be taught. With the RGEP, critics stressed that UP is reneging on its right and duty to “give sufficient emphasis on historically and societally under-addressed subject matters, issues and themes,” giving way to “societally inculcated preference of students.” In sum, they charge the RGEP of failing to provide a balance between “student choice and institutional guidance” (Guillermo, 2001). General Education Policy Before K+12. One of CHED’s first actions was to review and revise the curriculum of institutions of higher education in the country. In 1996, it issued CHED Memorandum Order (CMO) No. 59 titled “New General Education Curriculum” which was implemented starting in academic year 1997-1998. The new GE curriculum thereafter became part of all baccalaureate degree programs in institutions of higher education in the country (Espiritu, 2012). CMO No. 59 Series of 1996, which later on was called GEC-A, requires students to take 63 units, excluding Physical Education and National Service Training Program. The required subjects were composed of the following: 24 units of language and literature, 15 units of mathematics and natural sciences, 18 units of humanities and social sciences, and six units of government mandated subjects (Cruz, 2011A). Nevertheless, CMO 59 was criticized for reducing the number of required social science subjects (National Union of Students of the Philippines, 2006). In 1997, CHED released its Memorandum Order No. 4 Series of 1997, which later on came to be called GEC-B. While GEC-A was followed by students majoring in humanities, social sciences and communication. On the other hand, GEC-B was followed by students not majoring in the fields of knowledge mentioned. GEC-B required students to take 51 units, the distribution of which is as follows: 21 units of language and humanities, 15 units of mathematics, natural sciences, and information technology, 12 units of social sciences, and three units of mandated subjects (Cruz 2011A). Educator Isagani R. Cruz (2012), who led in the drafting of the two CHED Memorandum Orders, cited three reasons why institutions of higher education in the country are offering the General Education Curriculum: First, the Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) believe that graduates from Philippine high schools are not prepared to go to college. HEIs, therefore, require students to take “tool subjects” or “remedial subjects,” that is, subjects that are meant to make up for what high schools were not able to do. Second, HEIs were forced by Congress to teach certain subjects or topics that all Filipinos should know.
These are called “mandated subjects” because these subjects are not related to any professional or major course but are considered of general usefulness to students. Third, HEIs believed that all professionals should have a larger worldview than that offered by any specialized field. They contended that college graduates tend to hold influential posts in public and private sectors and therefore must be able to manage the country and their companies. Finally, college graduates should have basic knowledge about humanities, the sciences, and the social sciences. Furthermore, the aforementioned CMO demands “an interdisciplinary approach which would help the students see the human being as an integral person living in both a national and a global community.”
Cruz further explained that the following are needed: the recognition of student’s capabilities and attitudes, the recognition that humans “think with the heart and feel with the brain,” that the country is bigger than Metro Manila, and that the country’s future is intimately related with the future of the world. He also claimed that he drew inspiration from previous documents of the Department of Education, Culture and Sports in writing the memorandum (Cruz, 2011B). Rethinking. Existing national policies on General Education have been rethought with the creation by the CHED of the Technical Panel on General Education (TPGE)in April 2009. The TPGE was mandated to carry out two tasks: (1) To come up with a Revised General Education Curriculum or RGEC for all undergraduate students; and (2) To come up with a two-year post-secondary Pre-University program aimed at preparing high school students for college education. The second was subsequently dropped and changed into two additional years for high school education – K + 12 (Cruz 2011, C). The Revised General Education Curriculum (RGEC) takes the assumption that the implementation of a 12-year basic education curriculum will cause the reduction of tertiary education into three years from the current four. Here are the innovations enclosed on the GEC: (1) The RGEC of an institution for higher education will be taken by all students in that institution, regardless of major – a departure from current practices stemming from the difference made by GEC-A and GEC-B; (2) The RGEC consists of 36 units, reducing the 63 units of the GEC; and (3) Courses under the RGEC can be taken in the first year of college education or spread out across the curriculum levels, unlike the GEC courses which are normally taken in the first years of the tertiary education (Cruz, 2011C). Cruz (2011C) quotes TPGE’s understanding of General Education: “The objective of Philippine education on the tertiary level is the holistic education of Filipinos who contribute humanely and professionally to the development of a just and economically-robust society in an environmentally-sustainable world through competent and innovative leadership, as well as productive and responsible citizenship. General Education (GE) on the tertiary level addresses the development of the human being. “Some of the outcomes expected of students finishing GE are: an appreciation of the human condition, the ability to personally interpret human experience, the ability to view the contemporary world from both Philippine and global perspectives, the ability to reflectively and critically discern right and wrong in today’s world, the ability to tackle problems methodically and scientifically, the ability to appreciate and to contribute to artistic beauty, and the ability to contribute personally and meaningfully to the development of the Philippines” (Cruz, 2011C).
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