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Issue No. 44 December 16 - 22, 2001 Quezon City, Philippines
UP Diliman Approves `Revitalized’ General Education Program
The controversial Revitalized General Education Program (RGEP) has been approved last December 12 in the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, the largest UP campus. This program was earlier approved in Los Baños, Visayas and Baguio. How did this come about and what are its implications?
The University Council (UC) of the
University of the Philippines in Diliman voted 248-105 in favor of the
Revitalized General Education Program (RGEP) on December 12 as concerned
students and junior faculty held a rally in front of the Abelardo Hall (College
of Music), the venue of the UC meeting.
The UC is an academic body composed
of faculty members with the rank of assistant professor and higher. Once
approved by the Board of Regents (BOR), the highest policy making body of UP,
the RGEP will allow UP Diliman students to choose the general education (GE)
subjects they prefer. The students are to choose 15 units from each domain of
knowledge: Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences and Philosophy and Natural
Sciences and Mathematics.
The UP General Education Movement (UP GEM), an alliance of students and faculty calling for a democratic review and revision of the current GE program, argued that the RGEP has an inherent problem in its pedagogy. “If the RGEP is implemented, it is possible for a student to finish a GE program without taking any History, Filipino, Philippine Literature or Mathematics subjects.”
According to the UP administration, the semi-structured approach and learner-customized content of the RGEP are patterned after the GE program of American universities.
However, the UP GEM in a statement stressed that the proposed RGEP uses a framework that is now abandoned by American universities given their thrust to strengthen core courses. It adds, “There are scientific studies to show the pitfalls of a semi-structured approach in the United States, so why is UP adopting it?”
Indeed, as the survival of GE courses rests on the demand of market forces (i.e., students, the traditional UP education characterized by the promotion of nationalism and social awareness is threatened. The RGEP neither promotes these values nor protects UP’s nationalist tradition.
The administration knew beforehand
that they had the numbers based on the banner headline of the community
newspaper “UPdate Diliman” (Sept-Oct 2001). It claimed that support for the
RGEP was overwhelming among the Diliman UC members.
This explains why the RGEP
proponents last December 12 opted to railroad the process by stopping the debate
on the program despite numerous objections. Instead of answering the arguments
directly, the pro-RGEP UC members decided to just impose their will, even to the
point of jeering at, if not totally ignoring UC members, with opposing views.
UP GEM branded the majority vote in
favor of the RGEP as “nothing short of a pyrrhic victory by the UP
administration --- a victory bereft of meaning since this was done with dire
consequences to UP’s GE program, among many others.”
The 248 UC members who voted in
favor of the RGEP clearly sold the future of the university to neoliberal
interests, stressed UP GEM. On the other hand, it said that the 105 UC members
who voted No will be remembered as the “significant minority who stood up
against the tyrannical majority.”
UP GEM explained that it will continue to strengthen its ranks not only in Diliman but also in other UP units and push forward its call for a democratic review and revision of the current GE program. Bulatlat.com