Bridging the Education Gap: The Relevance of UPOU’s BES Program

Designed to equip education professionals with various competencies, the BES program “also aims to contribute to the enhancement and strengthening of non-formal education and ALS, vocational education and training, and open education and technology-supported learning.” Situated in the context of the Philippine education system, Lexter Mangubat, a graduate of the Bachelor of Education Studies (BES), finds that the program is relevant now more than ever. With increasing numbers of student dropouts and once-school leavers alongside the cancellation of face-to-face classes nationwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative that those who will handle the implementation of educational alternatives and changes in teaching and learning are experts in the field. Thanks to his experience in the program, Lexter has come to realize how the BES program “…is a crucial one in our education system as it provides the most relevant teachers’ education.”

Practice teaching, one of the requirements of the BES program, was something Lexter succeeded in because of the courses he was able to take beforehand. In his case, Lexter gained the knowledge needed for the field from various BES courses (listed in the official page of the BES Program), including the following:

EDS 131: Foundations of Adult Education

EDS 180: Teaching Multigrade Classes

EDS 155: Game-Based Learning

EDS 112: Introduction to Instructional Technology

Moreover, through the guidance of Assistant Professor Roja L. Rivera, former BES Program Chair and Adviser who is also referred to as Teacher Roja by her practicum students, Lexter was able to effectively articulate his experiences and learnings from the field in his written report. Because of Teacher Roja’s keen attention to details, Lexter was able to reconstruct and finalize his portfolio in which he states, “In fact, I really recommend that the courses in the BES program be promoted in every teaching education program in the Philippines to have a more effective program for teachers’ education that would produce more teachers that would help the country achieve quality education for all.” Through the BES program, Lexter’s eyes and mind were opened to the reality of education in the country. This helped him to further develop his educational philosophy and enabled him to “become a reflective thinker and a life-long learner” who strongly believes that “this program is very relevant nowadays, now that everyone is turning into distance education” as part of the new normal.

Given the current situation, Dr. Ruth A. Ortega-Dela Cruz, incumbent BES Program Chair and affiliate faculty member of the FEd, affirms that it is important for everyone to adapt to the shift into different means of online education in the best way possible. According to Doc Ruthee, “From encouraging new ways of approaching teaching and learning process, to increasing one’s ability to study and learn from virtually anywhere, and even training and developing for new sets of skill, we are all experimenting on what it means to be educated in the Pedagogy 4.0…And since we have come to realize the limitations brought by completely online classes, we are to finally transform the learning spaces to create learning environments that will support active blended learning. This approach exposes K to 12 learners to a rich blend of learning experiences, including controlled face-to-face teaching, online learning (synchronous and asynchronous forms of educational modules in printed materials or e-copies), and active student engagement with course content.”

While Doc Ruthee recommends that active blended learning be developed in the teaching and learning of K to 12 teachers and students, she acknowledges that such an option would bring about a number of challenges for all education stakeholders involved. This would “definitely require some minor to major revisions in the curriculum and the identification of the types of teaching and learning activities that need to be done in the classroom, at school and those that can be done at home.” Additionally, schools would have to invest in “qualified K to 12 teachers and those who are able to develop and use appropriate instructional materials.” Grading systems would also be affected, since practical examinations and/or performance tasks and tests “would be limited to paper and pen test, unless the school will require students to be physically present to be assessed through performance evaluation”, wherein an appropriate teacher-student ratio should be observed in consideration of the rules of physical distancing. With a pedagogical shift such as this, students may find it difficult to adapt and will need the supervision of their parents, who will have a more active involvement in the educational process. Overall, Doc Ruthee emphasizes that the learner and his/her needs must always be put at the center of every pedagogical intervention: “While we need greater integration of active blended learning, we also need to revisit learning methods with a greater balance between individual study/independent learning and collective social learning.”

Collaboration, Compassion, Commitment, and Communication.  For Lexter Mangubat of the UP Open University (UPOU), these 4Cs best describe what he observed during the “Voices of ALS Teachers” Edu-Hack and EDUKussion webinar which highlighted the inspiring stories and best practices of the Alternative Learning System (ALS) educators and teachers. The ALS is ever-present in the lives of once-school leavers and adult learners through the tireless efforts of the ALS supervisors and mobile teachers who consistently rise above given limitations and deliver quality education in the best ways possible. Although the webinar speakers have faced numerous challenges, such as the lack of financial support and technological resources, Lexter notes that it is through their embodiment of the 4Cs that they are able to effectively continue managing and teaching their respective ALS communities. 

During his practicum as a BES student, Lexter was able to observe the real state of ALS communities alongside the 4Cs in action. The community immersions allowed him to witness the realities of various education systems throughout the country, reflect on these and produce possible solutions to encountered problems; all of which enabled his application of the knowledge and skills he had gained from each BES course. In Lexter’s words, “My practicum days were really the best moment in my entire BES life…The practicum would really help a BES student reassess him/herself, whether s/he was able to gain the skills and knowledge to be able to graduate from the program.”

Although education in the new normal has its own set of challenges, Doc Ruthee is confident that the current revised BES program will continue to prepare future BES graduates to teach in the new normal “given the nature of its education, that is distance learning with emphasis on individualization, and globalization in learning.” As BES Program Chair, Doc Ruthee is proud of the program’s revised curriculum and structure: “The UPOU BES Program offers more differentiated and personalized learning that will help our BES students to develop greater autonomy, determination, creativity, as well as time management and self-organization skills, which are all necessary skills for the twenty-first century.”

For BES students who are preparing to engage in practice teaching for the new normal, Doc Ruthee advises to make use of every learning opportunity that comes with the academic journey. It is also important to develop and maintain a positive attitude towards your chosen field and whatever obstacles you may face. “There may be pains through the process, but with creative minds and sustained effort to help develop yourself to become competent, better outcomes can be achieved. Be confident, believe in yourself. But most importantly, believe in God.”

To learn more about the BES program, you may visit https://www.upou.edu.ph/academics/ or the official FEd website.

Written by: Krista Marie L. Fama

Special thanks to:

Ruth A. Ortega Dela-Cruz, Phd

Aleta R. Villanueva

Lexter Mangubat

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