Finally, the Philippines is taking giant steps to catch up with other countries in the field of education.
A number of critical steps are being implemented to enhance and develop the education system. The K-to-12 (Kindergarten to Grade 12) program has been rolled out, and although the Philippines was the last country in Asia to adopt the scheme, the country will reap its first harvest of K-to-12 graduates next year.
Although there was resistance to the program at first, some critics must have had a change of heart because while the program added two more years to basic education (junior and senior high school), the benefits to students far outweigh the perceived “burden” of staying extra years in high school.
The program not only expands the knowledge and learning of students, it also provides them skills training that allows graduates to find a job should they be unable to pursue university education for some reason.
Then there is the new free college education law that will be tested starting on the second semester this school year. If there was one meaningful and revolutionary legislation that the 17th Congress passed, the free college law is it. The law cemented the government’s intent to stamp out illiteracy and ensure that all Filipino youth (or even the oldies for that matter), are given the chance to have a college education, thus ensuring a brighter future for them.
Filipino children had never had such a golden opportunity to pursue and complete basic education, given skills training and finish a college course, for free. Poverty should no longer be an obstacle to learning because the government has taken care of the logistics by providing free education in public schools and colleges. In this regard, the Philippines has indeed fulfilled its mandate to make education accessible to all.
All these programs complement the action plan of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) that seeks to strengthen education, especially for out-of-school youth.
In the Chairman’s statement issued by President Rodrigo Duterte at the end of the Asean Summit held this week, he said Asean looks forward to greater efforts to enhance the agenda on inclusive education and reinforce teacher support.
The programs on education that were introduced by the Philippines not only aims to give Filipinos easier access to education. These new schemes will allow the country to enter the universal education loop, the bridges that Filipino students will use to be able to join and access the education programs of other countries.
This was evident in the statement issued by Duterte as chairman of the Asean in the recently concluded summit.
“We encouraged the development of higher education through internationalization and quality assurance including the further testing of the Asean Credit Transfer System with support of the EU-SHARE program to allow all universities in the region to benefit from the evolving regional higher education space in Asean as well as the advance state of higher education development in other Asean member states,” the statement said.
“We noted the proposal of the Philippines to create an Asean Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Development Council to intensify convergence among Asean member states on TVET and workforce development efforts, with a view to developing a world-class Asean labor force responsive to the rapidly changing needs of the labor market. To look into the opportunities of integration, the proposed Asean TVET Development Council shall focus on the development of a progressive, comprehensive and integrated regional work plan, as well as comparable qualification system, strategies and policies to ensure skills recognition and mobility of workers across the region,” it added.
The Philippines is investing much on the education of Filipinos, as it should. The youth should not waste the golden opportunities that are at their disposal. They should seize them for their personal advancement, and for the country’s development as well.
(The author is school principal 1 of Logac National High School in Lal-lo Cagayan)