Prioritize reform, innovation to address PH education crisis: PCCI

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), alarmed by the education crisis in the country, has proposed a set of recommendations to reform the education system and upskill people young and old to meet the evolving requirements of the world of work.

“There is no question that the Philippine education system is in crisis and that it is not producing the human resources with the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that are needed in today’s world of work, not to mention the future,” the PCCI Education Task Force (ETF) said in a policy paper.

The policy paper published late last year stressed that in an increasingly globalized and digitized world, the Philippines must prioritize educating and upskilling its people.

“There is a need to innovate in order to meet the requirements of rapidly changing times. Hence, we must adopt new models and paradigms in our education system that fit the needs of the present and the future,” said the paper.

Entitled “Reform Our Education, Transform Our Future,” the policy note focused its recommendations on three specific areas: promoting lifelong learning among the people, bringing up the education system to the digital era, and improving teacher quality.

“A key part to fostering innovation is to build on and enhance the tools available for the learned Filipino. We must put each person, each child and student in an environment where they are enabled to learn and discover their utmost potential and passion,” it said.

The ETF pressed for a seamless education system to facilitate lifelong learning as it noted how unclear jurisdictional boundaries and a lack of coordination between the Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) are weakening the current educational regime.

“Given the trifocalization of the Philippine education system, there is a need for integration and better coordination of the three agencies,” said the report.

The publication also recommended elevating the CHED and TESDA to full-fledged executive departments with corresponding personnel and budget to be equal in stature with the DepEd.

Likewise pushed is the full implementation of the Philippine Qualifications Framework (PQF) Act to raise domestic qualification standards to international levels and support the mobility of Filipino students and workers.

Further, the PQF Law should be amended to create the Philippine Qualifications Authority that will, among others, coordinate the three education agencies through implementation of the PQF.

The Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2012 must be amended and its implementation revisited. DepEd and CHED should harmonize their curriculum and achievement levels of the basic education subjects, and CHED should put in place higher level subjects.

Also sought is the absorption of the Early Childhood Care and Development Council by the DepEd to ensure seamless learning from birth.

At the same time, the ETF came up with suggestions to address the disruption caused by new technologies, particularly how technology is eliminating certain jobs while creating new ones requiring higher skills and knowledge.

Education in the Philippines continues to be organized the same way it was centuries ago and badly needs to move beyond existing approaches to restructure and utilize new methods of teaching and learning, the publication explained.

To do this, DepEd, TESDA and CHED should create their own R&D centers on emerging trends and benchmarks to upgrade curriculum content, instruction and learning.

“These R&D centers should also foster collaboration with international education institutions and local centers of excellence,” the report suggested.

The government is also urged to prioritize establishing connectivity with faster bandwidth and making access available to all Filipinos all over the country.

Other recommendations are to set as a state goal to have functional literacy attained by Grade 6 and develop a hybrid curriculum that credits competencies acquired through industry experience.

Also, put in place a national micro-credentialing system for the grant of micro-credentials or alternative credentials such as digital badges, online certificates, micro-masters, nano-degrees, and endorsements, the report advises.

Finally, the paper puts forward several proposals to improve teacher quality, noting this is “the single most important school variable influencing student learning.”

For one, CHED needs to speed up the implementation of its program for faculty development so that higher education institutions (HEIs) can attain faculty qualifications of 100% master’s degree holders.

Moreover, more faculty members should be sent abroad, especially those who will pursue doctoral studies in the sciences, engineering, mathematics and allied fields.

All private HEIs should be required to undergo compulsory accreditation or have their permit revoked.

The 10 original normal schools—responsible for the training of basic education teachers—should strengthen their primary focus of producing basic education teachers, and become centers of excellence in basic teacher education in their respective regions.

“Normal schools should be supported to strengthen graduate teacher education, curricular innovations, educational policy research and researches on teacher quality, lifelong learning and continuing professional development of teachers and education personnel, and full academic scholarships of students,” the paper added.

The Philippine Normal University (PNU), the national center for teacher education (NCTE), can still do more if given the mandate and resources, the research further suggested.

Among others, PNU can expand its role to support government in high-impact research; develop policy advice and recommendation; and support the review of licensure examination of teachers, career progression of teachers, and professional development programs.

The PNU can likewise be elevated from an NCTE to the National University for Teacher Education.

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