We had the opportunity to visit a fascinating vocational-technical school for boys called Dual-Tech in Nuvali. The school is designed for low-income male students to develop vocational training for employment within companies. Partnerships between large companies such as Lufthansa, Nestles, and Unilab provide students with real world training and application. Spiritual support is provided by Opus Dei. This school was modeled after a German program. Females are not admitted, and female instructors are not employed in the facility. I liked the concept and thought it would be a wonderful model for training in the United States in a co-ed environment. Link to website: http://www.dualtech.org.ph/
We visited the MHCC College Department, Teacher Training Institute. Upon arrival we were greeted with dancers, students and Sisters who provided us with wonderful performances. We entered the peaceful and beautiful lush green campus. We gathered in a large classroom where pre-service and beginning teachers asked us questions regarding education practices in the United States.
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Families from Mary Help of Christians gave us an incredible tour of Taal Lake region where we saw the beautiful volcano and lake. While there we toured the Orlino Museum where we saw extraordinary glass sculptures created from industrial glass remants. Orlino is an architect/artist who studied at the University of Santo Tomas, the oldest university in the Philippines. Photographs of the beautiful pieces of art will be posted on the Travel log section of this site.
We continued to Sonya's Garden to see the beautiful landscaping and herbal gardens. Lush vegetation surrounds the visitors as they walk along brick paths with a Spanish ambiance. Later we visited the Puzzle Museum where there were over 2000 puzzles assembled by one woman over the last 28 years. I never knew there were puzzles with 35000 pieces! Completing 1000 pieces is more than a challenge for me. We had the chance to pick up a mushroom burger...no meat, mushrooms and cheese and picnic at a park where we had a beautiful view of Taal Lake and volcano. The opportunity to zip line at the park was inviting and an experience I had to have. My TGC teaching partner, Amanda Wallace, was up for the challenge. It was a beautiful place to zip line for the first time.
Sunday, we toured Calamba city with the Pabale and Algar families and Ms. Shirley Azaula, a science teacher from MHCC. We visited the Calamba Rizal Park/Plaza. Jose Rizal was a national hero who was executed in the area now known as Rizal Park. A large monument measuring 22 feet in height was erected in 2011.
When we arrived to MHCC school on Monday morning, June 29th, it was Pope Day, a Salesian annual celebration. The sound of joyous celebration and music was coming from the outdoor gym . We were escorted to the area and observed the students and staff engaged in singing and movement to the sound of the music. The positive spirit, and enthusiasm was apparent in all the smiling participants!
Later we were introduced to Filipino culture and exchanged our information about the US education system and culture. During the day, I visited various classrooms and was quite impressed with the consistent greeting of the teacher and guests. All students stand and welcome the teacher, "Good morning Ms. Alvarez, live Jesus and choose joy" is recited at the beginning and end of each class. Teachers do not have their own classroom, but must move to classrooms. Students remain in the room while teachers move in and out when they have completed their lessons. There are large computer and science labs where teachers reserve the area for laboratory activities at least once per week. Each classroom has a large screen presentation system with internet access. Presently, students do not use cell phones or tablets in the class. Sister Pinky, the principal, is very progressive and is making plans for the implementation of more technology. Most students have access to cell phones and technology within their homes.
I noticed that the essential structure of the class was consistent across subjects. An essential question was posted, pre-assessment quiz and/or questions, brief demonstration or activity, group work using graphic organizers, sharing of group work with class. The teacher also reviewed and clarified errors after the students presented their results. The graphic organizers were graded while reviewing the materials, providing students with immediate feedback.
This year schools are changing from a K-10 to K-12 educational system. There are mixed opinions on this transition. Overall, most students and parents realize the importance of providing the additional years to help students become prepared and participate in a globally competitive society. The parents who have students in private schools had expressed concern regarding the additional expense.
We visited two public school in Manila and were warmly welcomed at Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino High School and Makati Science High School. The first school, has a student population of 5200 students and 242 teachers. It is a large school that has had to have two shifts of classes to serve the students. The classes are from 6:20 AM to 11:20 AM and 11:40 AM to 5:00 PM. The school provides students with free dental and medical clinics on campus. There is a positive interaction between students and staff. Public school students wear uniforms to school and also begin the day with prayer.
The Makati Science High School is similar to a magnet school within the United States. It has a student population of 1000 students, 250 students in each grade level. The focus is upon STEM education. The admission process requires an admission test where students must score at least 85% in math, science and English, and 83% in other subjects. Additionally, good health and moral character are also reviewed. The top 280 students are admitted. They must maintain a GPA of 85% in core STEM classes and 83% in other classes or they will be placed on academic probation.
Again, the positive interaction between students and staff was evident throughout the entire school. Students were actively engaged in learning and having fun in the process! This school also provides free dental and medical services for students. These schools also provided students with free uniforms and supplies. The school is a positive and supportive community for all. It was a delightful day filled with phenomenal people who are committed and dedicated to learning and teaching.
I was delighted to arrive safely and meet my group of fellow teachers from various regions of the United States. We had discussed the educational changes impacting the Philippines this year. This will be the first year for the implementation of a K-12 system throughout the country in both public and private schools, Previously, students attended a K-10 system. We were warmly welcomed by the staff and students at St. Paul' College, Pasig. It is a Catholic school for girls consisting of preschool /kindergarten, grade school 1-6, high school 7-10, and senior high school 11. This is the first year for grade 11; grade 12 will be introduced next year.
I had an opportunity to speak with students who represent the different stages of the transition. One student who is finishing 10th grade will be continuing to college. Another student will be entering the first year of eleventh grade and understands the importance of extending her education to allow for a more competitive academic preparation. The third student, who is entering 9th grade, also understood the importance of extending her education. The three students shared that their parents were not happy with the additional years of tuition. I am looking forward to visiting a public school to observe and discuss the differences between public and private education in the Philippines.
The school year is ending in the United States, most students and teachers are preparing for summer vacation! I am preparing for my trip to the Philippines where students and teachers are beginning a new school year! I look forward to this wonderful opportunity to learn about the beautiful people, culture and history of the country.