My previous idea about multigrade education is similar but not totally coherent to the definitions stated in A.W. Little’s article “Multigrade teaching: towards an international research and policy agenda”. Though it is mentioned in this article that the terms “multigrade” and “multiage” are sometimes used interchangeably, Veenman (1995) for instance differentiated the two terms – multigrade learners differentiated from two or more grades and are taught by one teacher while the multiage classes contains students who receive same curricula but varies in age (sometimes 5 to 10 years). Veenman gave me a clearer base idea about our program, EDS 180.
In the Philippines, my brother (who is one year younger than me) graduated in St. James Academy in Malabon City under their evening class program. The objective of this class is to provide quality education to the learners, who are still on their high school journey, who cannot afford the regular tuition fee of the regular classes of the institution. The evening class is composed of students under the same section but shows strong contrast in age, with disparity extending from 2 to more or less 15 years. Despite sharing diversity and differences in age, belief, level of maturity, and principles in life, all students receive singular teaching method and the expected academic output from every student is the same (in accordance to the subjects’ learning objectives). Moreover, students from this special class enjoys hugely discounted rates compared to the regular class, evening class students only need to shell-out P2,000 +- while the regular student’s academic year’s tuition fee costs around P60,000 +-. However, screening methods are strict to ensure that only the underprivileged and deserving people can enter this program.
I believe that root rational and principle of St. James’ multiage class is not just to provide wider access to quality education to the learners who are dedicated in pursuing their educational goals in life but to explore other avenues of teaching and imparting family-centered values that are nonconventional, effective and practical in terms of available resources and cost (I interviewed my brother who is a graduate of the institution).