Immersion in K to 12
MINI CRITIQUE - Isagani Cruz (The Philippine Star) - September 9, 2015 - 10:00am

The word “immersion” as it applies to the K to 12 curriculum is defined in the Department of Education (DepEd) Order No. 40, series of 2015:

“Work Immersion refers to the part of the Senior High School (SHS) Curriculum consisting of 80 hours of hands-on experience or work simulation which the Grades 11 and 12 students will undergo to expose them to the actual workplace setting and to enrich the competencies provided by the school under the supervision of the School Head and the designated personnel of the Partner.”

Immersion is done outside the school campus in a “Workplace Immersion Venue,” defined as “the place where work immersion of students is done. Examples of work immersion venues include offices, factories, shops and project sites.”

What could lead to confusion is that the word “immersion” actually has two meanings in K to 12. The first meaning refers to a required SHS subject in the curriculum. The second meaning refers not to a subject but to a preferred mode of delivery of Tech-Voc subjects.

Let us take the first meaning – immersion as a subject in the curriculum.

In the Curriculum Guides posted on the DepEd website, the word “immersion” occurs in the Specialized Subjects of the tracks (Academic, Technical-Vocational-Livelihood or TVL, Sports, and Arts and Design).

Immersion is only one of four options under “Work Immersion / Research / Career Advocacy / Culminating Activity.” (Let us call that subject WRCC for convenience.) In the Academic Track, WRCC is the ninth required specialized subject in the Accountancy, Business and Management (ABM), Humanities and Social Sciences (HUMSS), and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) strands. WRCC is not listed in the General Academic Strand (GAS), but since two Electives may be taken from the other strands, it may be required also by particular schools.

WRCC is a required specialized subject in the Sports Track. In this particular track, the phrase “Apprenticeship (off-campus)” is added as an example of a WRCC. The use of this phrase is unfortunate, because the word “apprenticeship” has a legal meaning in RA 1826 (National Apprenticeship Act of 1957). Legally, an apprentice is “a worker of at least 16 years of age who is covered by a written apprenticeship agreement with an employer, an association of employers, an organization of workers, or an apprenticeship committee registered with the Apprenticeship Division, which contract provides for not less than two thousand hours of reasonably continuous employment for such worker and for his participation in an approved schedule of work experience through employment and supplemented by related classroom instruction. No person shall work or be engaged as apprentice unless he is at least sixteen years of age, has completed the high school course or such course or courses as the Secretary of Labor may prescribe.”

There are two things that show that the word “apprentice” cannot be used within the Sports track. First, the apprentice must already have finished high school, and second, the apprentice must render at least 2,000 hours. Immersion as a subject covers only 80 hours, or if the student spends all day Monday to Friday, only two weeks out of the school year.

WRCC is a required specialized subject in the Arts and Design Track. In this track, there is another required specialized subject called “Apprenticeship and Exploration of Different Arts Fields.” Here, the word “apprenticeship” does not fall under RA 1826, because the word has an established meaning in the field of arts. In the US, for example, a “Fine Arts Apprentice Program provides specialized experiences beyond the regular art, music and drama curriculum for selected high school students (rising 10th, 11th, or 12th graders). Opportunities for students may include ensemble works, master classes, attendance at professional rehearsals and performances, museum courses, small group instruction, seminars, exhibit and performance opportunities.” In the UK, there are apprenticeships for new media, such as “animation assistant, archive assistant, broadcast assistant, junior designer, production runner, digital assistant.” The use of the word “apprentice” in the Arts and Design track may lead to legal confusion, but there is no choice. The word has a longer history in the arts than it does in our laws.

The House of Representatives has approved a bill amending both RA 1826 and the Labor Code, but the equivalent Senate Bill has not yet been passed. In House Bill 5303, the word “apprenticeship” refers to “a training within an enterprise involving a contract between an apprentice and an enterprise on an approved apprenticeable occupation.” This House Bill specifies that it is the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) that will supervise apprentices, as it does today, not DepEd.

As one of the options for WRCC, immersion is limited to at most 80 hours, because it is merely one subject. It may not even be chosen by the student or the school to comply with the requirement. DepEd Order No. 40 covers the procedures for a school that has decided to use immersion as their WRCC.

The other meaning of the word “immersion” in K to 12 refers to a mode of delivery of Tech-Voc subjects.

Here, immersion is not limited to 80 hours. In fact, the TVL curriculum posted on the DepEd website specifies that immersion should take at least 640 hours. 

(To be continued)                                                    



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