Revisiting the 10-point Education Agenda (2) | Inquirer Opinion

Revisiting the 10-point Education Agenda (2)

/ 12:16 AM August 02, 2014

(Concluded from last week)

The entire 10-point Education Agenda draws many lessons on sustainability and multisectoral engagement from several “seasons of reform” described in “When Reforms Don’t Transform,” the University of the Philippines’ Centennial Lecture on education jointly delivered in 2008 by Dina Ocampo, Cynthia Rose Bautista and Allan Bernardo. In it, the authors point out a tendency of education reform efforts to “sow seeds of hope, with sprouts of initiative coming to life, but with growth confined to small and separate plots.” (Ocampo is now Department of Education undersecretary for programs and projects, Bautista is a commissioner of the Commission on Higher Education.)

Apart from the recommendation by the Congressional Commission on Education in 1991 to trifocalize Philippine education in the DepEd, CHEd, and Tesda (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority), the Aquino administration’s education agenda is arguably the most sincere attempt thus far to address education issues systemically and dynamically.

The passage of Republic Act No. 10533 is a clear case in point. This law has enabled our education providers to examine learning goals throughout the basic education cycle and gauge their responsiveness to both present realities and the societal changes that will inevitably and naturally occur over time. This opportunity is as unique as it is rare.


Thus, calling for a halt to K-to-12 is what Ken Robinson calls the tyranny of common sense: The apparent enormity of implementation issues and wide swaths of conflicting interests drive the reformer to the point of inertia. But history has proven time and again that issues and hurdles can be surmounted. As the saying goes, “It’s impossible, until it gets done.”

Now let’s take a look at a couple of real challenges. One is at the beginning of formal learning, and the other is at the point where the learner leaves the education institution to find his/her place in the real world.

An Inquirer report last February quoted Valenzuela Mayor Rexlon Gatchalian as saying that nine out of 10 Grade 6 pupils in the city “either have difficulty reading or cannot read at all,” and that Grade 6 students tested last school year showed that eight out of 10 were frustrated readers who had difficulty reading.

“A further 11 percent or one out of 10 Grade 6 students cannot read at all while 5 percent are instructional readers who need to be guided to read. Only 1 percent of Grade 6 students in the city are considered independent readers,” Gatchalian also said.


He said the city’s school principals believed that their learners’ inconsistent performance in the annual National Achievement Test was most likely due to a weak reading foundation.

Gatchalian’s lament is not unique to Valenzuela.


It is generally accepted that a 75-percent achievement rate indicates that the learner is just at the beginning of mastery. The School Year 2012-2013 National Achievement Rate Mean Percentage Score is 68.88 percent at Grade 6. This is the average of the results from all five subjects (English, science, math, Filipino and Heograpiya Kasaysayan Sibika or Hekasi). For fourth year high school (or Grade 10 in the K-to-12 system), the figure drops to 51.41 percent due of course to higher order subject content. This does not bode well for education.

This brings us to the other end of the education cycle. I was at the National Science and Technology Week exhibit last weekend where I listened to Alvin Juban of the Game Developers Association of the Philippines, Benjie Marasigan of the Animation Council of the Philippines, Penny Bongato of the IT & Business Process Association of the Philippines, Penny Lauchangco of the Health and Information Management Outsourcing Association of the Philippines, and Jay Santisteban of the Contact Center Association of the Philippines. All of them belong to the IT and business process management (IT BPM) industry, an area tagged by the Department of Labor and Employment as a key employment generator that hired 900,000 new employees in 2013. According to Santisteban, the contact centers account for 60 percent of this figure.

Marasigan and Juban told the audience composed mostly of college-age men and women that the Philippines continues to be a first choice for outsourced work from major animation and game development outfits abroad, primarily because of the overall quality shown by the local talent, which regrettably is in short supply. Meanwhile, Lauchangco and Bongato said career opportunities are not exclusive to any particular academic discipline. One just needs to have a level of competency that meets global work standards.

And then three young men took to the stage, all gainfully employed in the IT BPM industry. Jay Pandanganan works as the learning and development manager at Xerox Philippines, Jerod Tudio is a junior human resources analyst at ADP Philippines, and Raphael Hernandez is a digital background artist at TOEI Animation Philippines. All three are professionals, each one has a clearly defined sense of citizenship. They pay their taxes, they vote, and they expect their government to respect their rights.

I immediately realized that I was looking at today’s middle class. Building up and strengthening this pivotal social sector should be at the very core of our education agenda.

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Butch Hernandez ([email protected]) is the executive director of the Eggie Apostol Foundation and the education lead for talent development at the IT & Business Process Association of the Philippines.

TAGS: Butch Hernandez, Commentary, education, opinion

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