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Quality education, gainful employment, meaningful lives

All education stakeholders believe that education is the best weapon against poverty.

Inquirer founding chair Eggie Apostol felt as strongly when she launched the Education Revolution in 2003 to encourage local communities to take a more strategic approach to making their schools more relevant and learner-centered.

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Like so many other education reform groups, the Eggie Apostol Foundation understood three things: that the overall quality of Philippine education has been on a steady decline, that education’s complexities make it too big to be left to government alone, and that this decline in quality and relevance is in fact reversible, but only through the convergent and sustained efforts of industry, the academe and all stakeholders.

A short time later the Eggie Apostol Foundation had a chance to discuss the finer points of our reform strategy with Ramon del Rosario, Chito Salazar and Peter Perfecto. At that time, these three gentlemen were busily organizing the Philippine Business for Education (PBEd), the members of which are major business leaders and captains of industry, and all of whom are bound by the firm belief that quality education is everyone’s business.

The reform efforts of all education stakeholders like PBEd and the Eggie Apostol Foundation have yielded major results such as the passage of Republic Act. No. 10533, the most far-reaching piece of education legislation thus far. Naturally, the implementation of RA 10533, more popularly known as the K-to-12 Law, will have profound implications across the entire education landscape.

Mindful of this fact, PBEd, the Management Association of the Philippines, Makati Business Club, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines, Semiconductor and Electronics Industries of the Philippines, German-Philippine Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Australia-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines, American Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Information Technology & Business Process Association of the Philippines recently expressed their full support for the K-to-12 Law.

In a public statement read by PBEd’s Salazar, the major business associations said: “The entire business community is steadfast in the belief that K-to-12 is a milestone legislation that can bring the Philippines up to par with the rest of the world. We believe that it will foster the development of competent graduates who can readily contribute to national competitiveness. Thus, we reiterate our support for the continued and proper implementation of the K-to-12 Law.”

The business groups also acknowledged that there are implementation challenges, such as the potential displacement of tertiary faculty and staff during the 2016-2021 transition period, the possible closure of higher education institutions, particularly small colleges, due to significant revenue losses, and the perception that the government is not fully prepared to meet logistical requirements.

But the business groups believe that these challenges are surmountable.

Perfecto, executive director of the Makati Business Club, said: “K-to-12 promotes inclusive growth, with benefits reaching households and individuals. Studies have repeatedly shown that more schooling leads to higher incomes, averaging a 10-percent increase for every additional year in school.”

Penny Bongato, executive director for talent development at the IT & Business Process Association of the Philippines (Ibpap) said K-to-12 “will create a cycle of investment, competitiveness, innovation, and job generation. The 12-year basic education system is the international standard for mutual recognition of qualifications of students and professionals.”

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Bongato’s confidence stems from the fact that the IT-business process management industry hired one million full-time employees in 2014. Ibpap expects that figure to grow to about 1.3 million in 2016. Impressive as these figures are, however, Bongato believes that we can go even higher if the academe and industry can work more closely together toward empowering our graduates with global-standard competencies.

Worldwide, despite the massive number of graduates annually, employers in practically every major industry are hard-pressed to find job-ready applicants exhibiting fundamentally sound competencies and a strong career growth potential within a business organization. This last factor is important. Here’s why.

The latest Philippine Statistics Authority Labor Force Survey shows an unemployment rate of 6.6 percent as of January 2015, dropping from 7.5 percent in January 2014. Meanwhile, employment figures also for January 2015 stood at 93.4 percent, up from 92.5 percent from the preceding year.

National statistician Lisa Grace Bersales reported that workers in the services sector comprised the largest proportion (54.6 percent), and that those engaged in wholesale and retail trade or in the repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles accounted for the largest percentage (34.6 percent) of workers in the services sector. Workers in the agriculture sector comprised the second largest group (29.5 percent), and workers in the industry sector the smallest group (15.9 percent). Laborers and unskilled workers remained the largest group (31 percent).

So the jobs are there, but where is the career potential? Only quality education can give that, and any educator knows that contact time is a function of quality. The equation is really simple: Quality education leads to quality employment, which in turn results in a better quality of life.

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

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TAGS: education, eggie apostol, Eggie Apostol Foundation, employment, INQUIRER, K to 12
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