Enhancing Quality of K-12 Education System by International Linkages

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New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman once said, “We were divided by walls during the Cold War, but now we are united by the web.” Because of the advancement of technology, we have become more connected than ever, and we are now interconnected like a global village; consequently, international collaboration has become integral not just to higher education but also to high school education in the twenty-first century, and recently international partnerships among other countries have been growing incrementally. For countries to survive globally in their economy, they need to prepare and equip their students with international experience and with perspectives and skills. Under the pressure of technological progress and modernization, the Philippines has initiated K-12 educational development programs and committed to fully supporting and modernizing its K-12 education system. The problem is that the government has given some guidelines for schools to implement these K-12 programs, but does not have any pilot programs to replicate them nationwide. Therefore, Minority Care International (MCI) has partnered with Thompson Christian School (TCS) and invited a guest speaker Dr. Sweeney, the superintendent of Boles Independent School District, to address the topic of educational development and to train some of the schoolteachers for the K-12 program. The workshops about K-12 program helped TCS to usher in the newly nationally mandated 11-12 grades and to develop a seamless K-12 curriculum program. Besides training the TCS teachers, MCI in partnership with Boles Independent School District and TCS, has initiated a unique international experience involving a semester of its Cross-Cultural Teacher/Faculty Exchange Program. The faculty exchange program would provide participants with the opportunity to teach or conduct research for one semester or an academic year at the Boles Independent School District, returning to their home institution at the end. Also, the District would like to share some of its curriculum material online for TCS to use, and online class interaction could be done as well. Through the Cross-Cultural Faculty Exchange, faculty will gain personal and professional knowledge, be exposed first hand to very different approaches to learning and methods of teaching, research, and support functions. They will experience student service contexts and gather skills for working in a variety of global environments that will help them to examine their perceptions and values and to gain an appreciation for how these attitudes and actions are shaped even challenging their own negative and positive preconceptions.

Dr. Sweeney met with the city mayor to deliver a letter from Dr. Jones, President of Texas A&M Commerce, and to bring greetings to the mayor. President Jones hopes to visit the city in the future and to expand A&M’s global presence in Davao City. Dr. Sweeney spoke to the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship and with the TCS board members. He also attended the MCI study forum. In addition, he met the president of Rotary Club of Central Davao and some other Rotarians at the Turkish Coffee Shop. He gave Texas hats to Rotarians and to the president of the Rotary Club of Central Davao. Using comparative knowledge of different educational systems to implement the decision and plan to enlarge the K-12 system will help in educating Philippine students in a global world.

Thompson Christian School’s partnering with another K-12 school in the USA will help it not to fail in its expansion of schooling. Our world has been going through a paradigm shift over the past couple of decades, and great efforts have been made to improve education and bring about change and development in the educational system all over the world. The United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals to bring quality for all and reduce the poverty through education is an example. This kind of international linkage can help draw out lessons and place world events into context. The partnership with a school in Texas can expose teachers and students to very different learning and teaching contexts. This can help them to examine students in Texas to evaluate their own perceptions, values, and stereotypes and vice versa with Thompson Christian School’s partnership with the Boles Independent School District in Texas. Both can also help provide the basis for broadening curriculum and subject areas to incorporate wide global perspectives.

Dr. Graham Sweeney said, “True education dignifies the individual.” So it is important to have this kind of holistic education that is globally compatible because international partnership like TCS and Boles School will help build global competence and broaden students’ horizons. The president of Thompson Christian School, Attorney Susan P. Cariaga, likewise recognized that “Through this partnership we are learning a great deal from our American colleagues about America’s approach to K-12 education reform, we are going to train each other students, and we know that we will learn a great deal from the accomplishments in the USA and this partnership in the years ahead.” In 2015, one of MCI exchange students, Estephanie Ebrano, did her internship at Boles Independent School District and had a successful special education program that Thomson School would like replicate by sending one of their teacher one semester to teach at Boles under the Thompson Christian School Faculty Exchange Program in Texas. The exchange program will prove mutually beneficial to all institutions involved.