Last of a 6-part series
HOW can HEIs with less resources expose their faculty members, staff and students to cross-border educational as well as life practices? Especially with the transition to K-12, private HEIs somehow are keeping tight to their budgets: no college freshmen enrolment SY 2016-17 and none for both freshmen and sophomores this SY. Despite minimum resources, cross-breeding educational practice may still be possible. Our earlier columns for this series dealt with the mechanics of requesting for foreign volunteers to assist with school projects. Working with them is a two-way street—advantages on both sides—an exchange of blueprints for living.
Linking with foreign cultural institutes, foundations, etc. Besides foreign volunteer agencies, and cultural sections in foreign embassies, there are international cultural institutes, foundations and other instrumentalities which can help internationalize HEIs. Among these are: the Alliance Francais, the British Council, Confucius Institute, Goethe Institut Philippinen, Instituto Cervantes, Japan Information and Culture Center, Thomas Jefferson Cultural Center. These centers fund cross-border studies, including foreign language teaching, attendance in conferences, visiting and exchange lecturers; maintaining modern libraries; setting up exhibits, film viewing, art exhibits and musical performances; language classes for teachers and students awarding internationally recognized language certificates. HEIs may link with these organizations to host such activities on-campus (e.g. lectures on federalism); if there are any costs at all, these are very minimal. Also available are sponsored foreign language competitions abroad for students and donations of instructional materials and equipment for foreign language teaching.
Flashback: Post-EDSA study grants. Philippine historical events favored our efforts to further “internationalize” teacher qualifications in the chartered schools I was with. Shortly after the 1986 EDSA, the US allocated several million dollars for faculty development in private and public HEIs tagged as the US-RP grants. The Fund for Assistance to Private Education (FAPE) administered the study grants for both sectors. There was no Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) at the time. These grants ended by the second semester of SY 1990-91. At the time, too, the Philippine Senate voted to reject the renewal of the American bases. Availing of these grants when they were started, we had teachers finish their doctoral degrees in Philippine universities—at the UP and at Dela Salle University—and one, half-finished at the Ateneo de Manila when the grants ended.
Cross-border stints. Besides these universities, US-RP grantees attended American universities such as at Ball, Virginia Tech at Blacksburg and Boston U. Those who went to these universities included a doctoral sandwich program. A “sandwich” program punctuates a grantee’s studies in a Philippine HEI where he/she is enrolled with a brief sojourn abroad for research mentoring or special courses, after which the grantee returns to complete the degree program in the local HEI.
Other outsourced grants. There were also one-year study grants (and two- to three-week study visits which I availed of) under the British Council which had our language teachers attend new trends at Reading and at Edinburgh. Two others won Fulbright scholarships at Penn and at UCLA. Also, a four-year (1996-2000) Australian Aid identified the state college officially as one among 14 Project Basic Education—(PROBE)
Teacher Education Institutes of Regions 2, 7, 9 and 10. Nine teachers and the education dean enjoyed study grants in Australian universities. The grants also included a donation of some instructional reproduction equipment. Several teachers underwent the year-long Monbusho (referred nowadays as Monbukagakusho) scholarships of the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Two teachers trained in English language teaching at SEAMEO’s Regional English Language Center (RELC) in Singapore; in mathematics and science at the Regional Center for Science and Mathematics Education (Recsam) in Malaysia; likewise, on annual summer slots, at UP’s Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (ISMEd) and at SEAMEO in Quezon City where foreign teachers mentored. Study leave expenses were salaries only. The Mindanao Advanced Education Program (MAEP), providing P5,000 replacement costs per semester for every grant, had six teachers funded for masters and doctoral degrees in peace education, business management, life science, etc. at Cotobato’s Notre Dame, Cebu’s Recoletos, Cebu Normal, etc. Replacement cost refers to the cost of paying for a substitute to take over the teaching loads of teachers on study leave, which are assigned as overloads to co-teachers.
Providing an environment for desirable change. Returning teachers shared foreign best practices viable within the Philippine context to introduce desirable change. A supportive environment made returning teachers stay far beyond the agreed return service requirement. Return service refers to the length of time a returning teacher under contract for the study leave is obliged to serve fulltime before which time he/she may not leave/resign from the HEI—such as two years of return service for every year of studies. Certainly, exposure to these cross-border universities enabled the college to adopt practices, knowledge, skills and perspectives adding academic vitality and institutional pride. Working with foreign professionals in the home base or abroad had a noteworthy impact on our teachers—not only on implementing the HEI’s mission, vision and goals but in gaining renewed confidence in themselves as persons and as professionals.
Was what we did some form of internationalization? It has been noted that “there is no recipe or one set of indicators for an internationalized university” . . . that “internationalization is a process of change which is tailored to meet the individual needs and interests of each higher education entity. Consequently, there is no ‘one size fits all’ model of internationalization.” <http://www.aqu.cat/elButlleti/butlleti75/articles 1_en.html#.WSPUg1SGNME>. Please, judge us kindly.