Prominent business leaders reiterated the private sector’s continued commitment to collaborate with the government and academe to strengthen the education system, more so in this time of pandemic and digital transformation.
The renewed commitment comes as the education system faces a number of unprecedented challenges relating to e-learning. These include difficulties faced by families in accessing the Internet and acquiring the gadgets and equipment for distance learning.
Schools, too, are facing mounting pressure to respond to the changing landscape of the new normal and the digital world, the business leaders said at the 10th National Education Forum held online on November 10.
In a statement, Sergio Ortiz-Luis, Jr., president of the Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (PHILEXPORT), underscored the need to ensure continued quality education for students amid the disruption caused by the COVID-19 crisis.
He lauded the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in particular for its plan to reassess and adjust the TESDA system, putting priority on agribusiness, health, ICT and construction courses to make the education sector more responsive to future crises.
“We at the export sector are happy that TESDA has a plan such as this considering that many of our member companies are dependent on skilled workers,” Ortiz-Luis said.
At the same e-forum, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) president Ambassador Benedicto V. Yujuico said it is critical for government, academe and industry to work closely together “to mitigate the severe challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic” as the country’s economy transitions to the digital era.
He described the current situation as “very challenging” for the educational system. “Our schools and students encounter a multitude of difficulties in adapting to distance learning. We are compelled to use virtual platforms because we need to follow health protocols.”
Moreover, the changing demands of the Fourth Industrial Revolution or digital revolution “have placed added pressure for the education sector to proactively respond.”
In view of this, he said PCCI is urging the creation of a new Congressional Commission on Education (EDCOM) to review, assess and evaluate the formal, non-formal and alternative learning systems at all education levels.
Yujuico pointed out that while the 1990 joint resolution that created the EDCOM yielded recommendations that led to major reforms, “there were vital EDCOM proposals that did not materialize to effect change needed in the educational system.”
“The PCCI therefore is pushing for the creation of EDCOM 4.0 and supports the Senate Joint Resolution No. 10 of January 2020 calling for the new Congressional Commission on Education,” he said.
At the start of this year, five senators released the joint resolution calling for a new EDCOM composed of members of the Senate and House of Representatives to help the government improve the state of education in the Philippines. This after the abysmal ranking of the Philippines in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) study, particularly in Math and Science.
Yujuico also called on business and industry to become involved in the review, assessment and evaluation of the country’s educational systems and policies. This, he said, will ensure that “the gap between the learning outcomes of education and the required competencies of the world of work is reduced.”
Meanwhile, Eduardo Ong, chairman of PCCI’s education committee, said collaboration among industry, government and academe is important for the healing and recovery of the education sector and to “promote competitive education in the new normal.”