Interview: Patricia Licuanan
What is the motivation behind extending primary and secondary education in the Philippines?
PATRICIA LICUANAN: When we compare the Philippine education system to those elsewhere it is clear that, while the content is sufficient, students are not being given enough time to deepen their understanding of key subject matter, nor opportunities to master skills.
The move to a full 13 years of pre-university education is something we have long talked about, but little progress has been made. But it appears education and political leaders are now increasingly supportive.
The repercussions of the move to a K-12 system are expected to be wholly positive. With 12 years of school instead of the current 10, students will be much more prepared to move on to the next step, whether that is the university campus or the workforce. They will be given the opportunity to further mature, as well as to attain additional skills and abilities that will serve them in their academic and professional careers. Additionally, the need for remedial courses in the early years of university will be sharply reduced, therefore allowing tertiary educational institutions to focus on imparting specialised knowledge and skills to their students.
This initiative will bring the Philippine education system in line with those in the region as well as those throughout the world. Overall, it should make the Philippines and Filipinos more competitive on a global scale, as universities will be able to produce better educated and more qualified graduates and professionals.
How can students be encouraged to enrol in traditionally under-represented disciplines?
LICUANAN: In recent years, there has been an oversupply of university graduates in certain areas, including nursing and business administration. On the other hand, there has been an undersupply in disciplines currently in high demand from the private sector, such as science, technology and agriculture. To direct students toward these subjects, priority scholarships exist. However, there continues to be a significant lack of knowledge and awareness of opportunities and misperceptions are common. To address this, CHED is working with the private sector through public-private partnership initiatives to design educational programmes exposing students to the opportunities available.
On the institutional side, to encourage the education sector to prepare students in priority growth and industry sectors, incentives are provided by means of the support and funding given to schools with programmes set in such disciplines.
Additionally, there is a moratorium on establishing additional programmes in oversubscribed subjects. Considering the widespread proliferation of very similar institutions in the Philippines, the education sector is moving towards amalgamation and consolidation to eliminate redundancies. This will further ensure the quality expected by the global business establishment.
How can higher education link with local businesses to produce graduates that fulfil market needs?
LICUANAN: It is extremely important that business and industry have at least some input with regard to the direction and reform of the education system. Thus, in developing policy, CHED utilises technical panels, all of which have industry representatives as members, to assist the commission with its decision-making. Through inputs from the private sector, CHED is better able to institute policies that produce qualified students who can serve in business and industry.
One focus of these technical panels has been to identify skills and attributes most needed by the business sector and to subsequently adapt the country’s educational programmes to incorporate these skills.
Additionally, on-the-job training and internships offer a valuable opportunity for students to actively experience various industries, while also functioning as a valuable recruiting tool for the private sector. These projects are a vital source of education and business partnerships, and we expect it to continue growing in the coming years as the programmes mature and expand.
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