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Continuing the Education Revolution

/ 11:55 PM October 25, 2013

Republic Act No. 10533, or the K to 12 Law, was signed early this year. With it, the Education Revolution moved into the arena of global benchmarks and internationally recognized quality frameworks.

Just last week, the Philippine Business Education (PBEd) gathered education stakeholders to a forum aptly called “Continuing the Education Revolution,” precisely to discuss this development.

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In his lecture at that forum, PBEd’s Dr. Edilberto de Jesus recounted the long and arduous road to K to 12. During his term as education secretary, De Jesus was the first to introduce the idea of a 12-year basic education cycle through the Bridge Program. Although unceremoniously scrapped even before the idea had taken root, the Bridge Program nevertheless underscored the inadequacy of the 10-year cycle.

The Education Revolution was formally launched by the Eggie Apostol Foundation (EAF) in 2002 to spur stronger and more sustained community involvement in improving the quality of basic education. Eggie Apostol’s People-Power-inspired engagement strategy drew strength from the fact that education is a public value. Thus, education stakeholders invariably tended to react very positively to calls for meaningful change in the education system.

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But marshaling that sense of commitment has repeatedly proved easier said than done.

De Jesus, a founding trustee of EAF, said as much when he noted that while all education improvement initiatives were essentially good, by themselves they were not at a scale to create impact. For that to happen, the change has to be systemic.

Dr. Jose “Pepe” Abueva, former president of the University of the Philippines and another founding trustee of EAF, said teachers, students and parents must perceive the reform efforts to be truly relevant if the Education Revolution is to move forward. He said the guiding principle must be: “Education for what, and for whom?”

In its early stages, the Education Revolution manifested itself through the 5775 Movement, a community-led, private-sector initiative conceptualized largely by Education Undersecretary Mario Deriquito when he was still with Ayala Foundation and EAF community organizing consultant Joel Pagsanghan.

Likewise, through our Mentoring the Mentors program developed by Chinit Rufino of the Marie Eugenie Institute, Lirio Mapa of the Center for Leadership and Change, and education experts Dr. Celia Adriano and Dr. Evelyn Mejillano, the Education Revolution highlighted teacher quality and commitment as primary reform initiatives.

Ramon del Rosario and Dr. Chito Salazar, chair and president of PBEd, respectively, immediately understood that community engagement and teacher quality were two essential elements. PBEd, which counts among its members the CEOs of the country’s top 500 corporations, added another reform dimension: the need to align core competencies with international standards from both the education and industry standpoint.

PBEd campaigned for the 12-year basic education cycle as a quality imperative. Salazar pointed out that K to 12 directly improves the quality of basic education through comprehensive curriculum reform and the systematic adoption of evidence-based teaching strategies.

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In his presentation on quality, curriculum and assessment in the context of K to 12, Mapua Institute of Technology and Malayan Colleges president Dr. Reynaldo Vea argued that the additional two years of formation can be maximized at the tertiary level: “We can aim to produce more competitive professionals and much better college graduates. In fact, we can have better master’s-degree and PhD holders.” Vea also said the key is outcomes-based education, wherein the desired program outcomes are “the set of learning competencies that enable learners to perform complex tasks, functions and roles and that students are expected to possess at the time of graduation.”

In various other forums on “Continuing the Education Revolution,” Penny Bongato, executive director for talent development at the Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (Ibpap), has repeatedly emphasized that the relatively small number of students in the country’s annual graduate pool who possess competencies at the level that Vea described severely impacts on the Philippines’ global competitiveness.

From 2010 to 2012, Ibpap and the Department of Science and technology conducted a national-level Global Competitiveness Assessment Tool for the information technology and business process management (IT-BPM) industry. As many as 21,000 graduating college students and about 3,000 new hires were tested for basic skills (cognitive ability, English proficiency, computer literacy and perceptual speed and accuracy) and behavioral skills (learning orientation, responsiveness, reliability, courtesy, empathy and interpersonal communication).

The responses of the graduating students indicated the competency level of the supply, and those of the new hires, of the demand. A team formed by the UP Statistical Research Foundation led by Dr. Erniel Barrios processed the data.

Their findings show that in general, the current supply of basic skills is 21 percent off the demand in the IT-BPM sector, and that the top 25 percent of the students have basic skills that are only 9 percent higher than the average demand. “This implies that even among the ‘best’ students, they are not much better than what is needed in the IT-BPM industry,” Barrios said.

The data clearly show that the professional formation of our graduates has been inadequate thus far. K to 12, being a global benchmark, will directly address this inadequacy.

Butch Hernandez ([email protected]) is the executive director of the Eggie Apostol Foundation and education lead for talent development at Ibpap.

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TAGS: Butch Hernandez, Commentary, Eductaion Revolution, opinion, Philippine Business Education
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