Tertiary education challenges


Tertiary education responds to three distinct national goals. First, it aims to educate the youth to become active and productive members of society. Second, it seeks to meet and match industry demand with a competent and globally competitive workforce. Finally, through a continuing effort to reach global education standards, our universities aim to increase the quality of human capital and productivity vis-à-vis national and economic progress.

Naturally, many issues continue to plague our tertiary education system. Substandard institutions habitually fail to produce graduates with industry-standard competencies. Lately, we have seen the emergence of institutions that take advantage of industry trends by offering courses that aim solely to generate more revenue for the institution rather than deliver quality education to its enrollees. We have also seen the proliferation of  so-called state and community colleges that create poor options for students by providing substandard education. Given these circumstances, the following tertiary education components now deserve tighter scrutiny.

1. Teacher quality. Do college instructors consistently meet the minimum qualifications as faculty?  Do they have the skills and experience to guide the students in their chosen programs, and do they exhibit the professionalism and dedication needed to  inculcate the discipline of scholarly inquiry?

2. Quality of programs and course offerings.  Are the course offerings designed to provide students with the needed skills and knowledge to become competitive individuals, achievers in the workplace, or have they just been re-programmed to meet market demand and generate more revenue for the school at the expense of quality?

3. Governance. How are these schools managed? Are they run by education professionals? Are the schools affected by politics or are they used for political motivations and gain? Do the school administrators have the professionalism and expertise to run the schools?

Consider the nursing sector, for instance. We now have an oversupply of nursing graduates. However,  the low passing rates of licensure examinations are a huge cause for concern. We can only speculate that the apparent abundance of nursing graduates who fail their licensure exams may be due to the penchant of some rather unscrupulous nursing colleges to sacrifice quality in favor of higher enrollment figures.

Then there are the Teacher Education Institutions. The Unesco report on Reorienting Teacher Education to Address Sustainability states:  “Teacher Education Institutions fulfill a vital role in the global education community; they have the potential to bring changes within educational systems that will shape the knowledge and skills of future generations.” The culture, character and development of our nation rely on the quality of teachers we produce. These are the individuals who mold the minds of our future generations. It is necessary to make sure that these institutions are monitored strictly for compliance in their curriculum and values, and that they are provided with the innovative teaching strategies and methods that can help them reach out to students and achieve global standards for teacher education.

The Commission on Higher Education has announced that it will step up efforts monitor substandard colleges and universities. The CHEd is fully aware that it needs to actively regulate all programs—including Nursing—that produce unemployable graduates or exhibit low or even zero passing rates in board exams. It faces the challenge of making sure that all non-performing schools are closed and minimum qualifications for faculty are monitored. It  must also exhibit strong governance over state colleges and universities as well as colleges developed by local governments to ensure compliance with quality education standards.

Public and private higher education should not compete but complement each other, with the primary objective of meeting national development goals. Educational institutions must develop programs to reflect the needs of education and the youth.

Erda Tech Foundation is an educational and training institution that aims to provide technical/vocational skills to disadvantaged youth. It provides five-year secondary education programs with a six-month training in the final year. Over the years, with its focused, quality programs, it has produced graduates that are able to meet industry demand in their respective fields.

The One School calls itself a non-traditional college and puts emphasis on personalized learning. It offers a three-year undergraduate course in Entrepreneurship and Fashion Design and Marketing. The One School employs alternative education techniques where mentoring, low teacher-student ratios, one-on-one instructions are arranged. Its curriculum and method of teaching have adapted to the changing learning needs of students today.

These two programs in different sectors show that excellence in learning can be achieved with innovation, quality education and with the formation of skilled, empowered individuals as its top priority. Setting up schools for higher education is much more than providing infrastructure. It is about being able to produce individuals who can compete locally and globally in their chosen fields. With this we will be able to produce a highly educated citizenry that will pave the way to progress in the country.

Ching Jorge is the executive director of Bato Balani Foundation, an Asia21 Fellow of the Asia Society, lead convenor of Young Public Servants and a trustee of the International Center for Innovation Transformation and Excellence in Governance. Email Ching at

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  • Krayon

    We surely need more respect for nontraditional programmes and colleges, preferably outside the metro. We need technical colleges colleges to rise in stature, up to the level of UP, Ateneo, La Salle and UST.

    Anyway, colleges shouldn’t “aim to educate the youth to become active and productive members of society” – that’s what high schools are for.

  • Anonymous

    Nurses of the Philippines are globally competitive. Domestic helpers becoming the Super Maids, are globally competitive too. They are active and productive.

    If you are just telling young people, choose a course or path wherein the possibility of getting a job and being productive is high, then everyone will support you including the government.

    That idea will just tell, the Philippine colleges and universities and even technical and vocational schools are just there to produce “human robots”, for labor purposes only.

  • Alvin Acosta

    Kasalanan yan ng CHED. Hindi sila mahigpit. nakakapagbukas ng school ang mga negosyante at local government na wala namang qualified  teachers/instructors and the worst is kahit walang maayos na facilities. Like offering Computer Science/IT/Engineering courses ang daming nagsulputang schools na nagoffer nito kahit walang computer laboratory, kung meron man sa 1000 student population e isa lang ang computer lab. Ang daming schools na walang CHED recognition. Madami nagsasabi nalalagyan daw ang CHED kaya panu uunlad ang education system ng bansa. Ung K12? Kung tutuusin effective nman ang K10 nasa CHED and DEPED ang kakulangan kasi kung maalis ang corruption dyan magiging maayos ang estado ng edukasyon ng ating bansa.

  • Anonymous

    I cannot believe what I am reading here.  We continue to educate our population only to export them to other countries – in the hope that they would remit money back home.  There seems to be a lack of interest in developing vocational and technical education to develop skilled workers in areas like electronics, computer technology, baking, crafts, visual arts, welding and metal works. These people can find jobs locally or could set up their own business right here in the Philippines. They would not have to leave their family (son, wife, husban or daughter, or ailing parents) behind while they toil in miserable conditions in some god-foresaken country.

  • Anonymous

    iyong batas na nagrerequire na dapat may m.a. ang mga instructors, dapat alisin na iyon. ang nangyayari, para masunod ang batas na iyon kailangan lumabag muna ng ibang batas. dumadami ang mga colleges lalo na sa mga probinsia na nagbebenta na ng m.a. dati halos imposible ma-achieve ang m.a. degree. may mapapabalita pa na si mr or miss soandso successfully defended his/her thesis. ngayon wala na tayong nababasang ganoong balita, kasi pinagbibili na lang ang mga m.a. degrees. basta nagbayad ng tama ang graduate student, may m.a. na. tinutulongan pa nga ng mga professors ang kanilang mga graduate students matiyak lang na pumasa. ang nangyayari, may m.a. nga engot pa rin naman. di walang maituturong magaling sa mga estudiante. pati nga Phd ang dali na lang ngayon magkaroon ng ganoong titulo. Ang dami nga Dr. eh, Doctor of Engotology, mali mali na ang grammar balubaluktot mag english, di pa tama magpronounce. basta ang nakikita ng Ched, may m.a. o phd, wala nang pakialam ang Ched saang university o college galing ang m.a. o phd. ako nga nag m.a. sa isang american university tatlong subject ko ang hindi umabot ng 90 dahil sobrang pahirapan sa university na iyon, di tumigil na ako, nakakahiya na kinalimutan ko na ang maka m.a. degree. iyong iba nagpapakapal ng mukha wala namang natotohan basta ang importante mayroon silang m.a.

  • Leo Paras

    Institutions for tertiary education should also be geared, not only in selling m.a. and phd degrees but also in developing their intellect and their character. 
    This may sound very idealistic and far-fetched but graduates with these qualities are what our country or government desperately need.  

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