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Fighting for the educated Filipino

In May 2009, Philippine Business for Education (PBEd) convened the country’s leading education reform advocates, including the Eggie Apostol Foundation, to propel a growing movement to make quality education a priority agenda of whoever was to be elected president in the next year. After his inauguration in 2010, President Aquino heeded the groundswell by earnestly pursuing the 10-Point Basic Education Agenda, a package of groundbreaking reform initiatives that included the passage of Republic Act No. 10533, also known as the K-to-12 Law.

PBEd’s Ramon del Rosario named that movement “Education Nation,” and its goal was “to bring together the largest ever constituency for Education Reform including teachers, parents, students, civil society organizations, business groups, local governments, donors and other education stakeholders to demand … and help attain quality education for all.”

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Today, with the national elections just two months away, the serious contenders for the presidency have been more concerned with pursuing strategies and tactics that would win them the most votes rather than actually showing us why they deserve our mandate.

The best way for them to let us know what they really stand for is to expand on Unesco Director General Irina Bokova’s assertion: “Education is the most transformative force there is in any society. This universal agenda testifies to the recognition that education lies at the heart of achieving sustainability, with impact across the development spectrum.

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“Education is a global public good and quality is vital for the new agenda: We are not talking about any kind of education, but about quality education, about learning. National resource mobilization and aid are important, but the effectiveness of investment is equally important.”

Education Nation will reconvene this month with a decidedly more urgent mission: to fight for the Filipino people’s right to quality education from the local to the national levels.

The salient points of Education Nation 2016’s change theory call on the new president as well as Congress to craft a legislative agenda toward inclusive and equitable quality education, lifelong human flourishing, and sustainable development, to be fully realized by 2050.

Recognizing that good governance is imperative to national development, Education Nation 2016 pushes for the passage of the freedom of information bill and a congressional review of legislation on the trifocal education system, the National Coordinating Council for Education, and the institutional mandate of the Professional Regulation Commission.

It envisions learning institutions encouraging broadened community participation in policy development and decision-making.

Education Nation 2016 also reimagines a formal education system where the new president “shall continue the trend of increasing investment in education to meet international standards and national goals.”

A key reform thrust of such investments shall be toward training nonteaching personnel, ensuring quality delivery of support services to students, and further development of a research culture across the educational system.

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Education Nation 2016 outlines a very progressive course of action that includes revitalizing alternative learning systems through evidence-based policies and practices that rigorously study the extent and distribution of the out-of-school youth phenomenon.

According to PBEd president Chito Salazar, we must respond to the challenges of today’s rapidly changing world and we have to continue finding new and better ways to work together.

In this light, Education Nation 2016 enjoins the winning presidential candidate to push for the creation of a Department of Information Communications Technology, for adequate access to the Internet on a national scale via public-private partnerships (PPPs), for the development of learning institutions in locations relatively safe from the impact of natural disasters, and the provision of adequate space to allow these institutions to perform ad hoc functions such as during calamities and elections.

PBEd strongly recommends that the government expand PPPs toward social services and encourages Congress to institutionalize collaborative linkages by designating the National Industry-Academe Advisory Council as the driving entity for the creation and oversight of sectoral skills councils.

Decade upon decade of global evidence shows beyond all doubt that high-performing education systems with clear learning goals at every stage of the continuum are a key characteristic of a stable society regardless of a country’s prevailing system of government.

As Eggie Apostol herself remarked in 2009: “It is true that we should seek reform at all levels, especially in the larger political context. But the scenario is by no means linear. As education stakeholders and members of our respective communities—or, more accurately, education revolutionaries—our collective experience shows that meaningful education reform happens from the ground up, and is always dynamic.

“Education reform is the rallying cry that will bind our communities together. However, the Eggie Apostol Foundation maintains that our efforts should be characterized by a continuing dedication to learning and focus less on trying to influence the outcome of the coming political exercise.

“We do need an ‘education president’—one who truly understands the nature of education reform—but any president-elect can shape himself to be one. All he needs to see is that his mandate comes from an Education Nation.”

This was true back then, and it still is true today. Dear presidentiables, your thoughts, if you please.

Butch Hernandez ([email protected]) is the executive director of the Eggie Apostol Foundation.

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TAGS: education, Eggie Apostol Foundation, Elections 2016, K to 12, Philippine Business for Education
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