MAP: Addressing education crisis should be prioritized
Students from the City University of Pasay gather yesterday at the Philippine International Convention Center for their graduation ceremony. Pasay City Mayor Imelda Calixto-Rubiano was among the attendees.  Ernie Peñaredondo


Manila, Philippines — Business group Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) is urging the country to prioritize the easing of the current education crisis, emphasizing the need to transform the country’s education system to allow it to better adapt to a changed workplace in a technology-driven world.

“We in the MAP believe that easing the education crisis should be one of the country’s top priorities, and we call on all sectors to actively participate in addressing it,” MAP president Benedicta Du-Baladad said in a statement on July 10.

Du-Baladad said that the time has come for a public-private partnership in education, emphasizing that one of education’s primary reasons for being is to ensure that its graduates are adequately prepared for gainful employment or for enterprise building.

“As the biggest ‘consumers’ of these graduates, we are all too willing to do our share in preparing them to be productive and competitive, or do business with them in the future. This collaboration is indispensable in creating a workforce that is skilled and ready to actively engage. That means transforming the Philippine education system so that it can adapt to a changed workplace in a technology-driven world,” she said.

“It is imperative that the educators tackle the reforms and be unafraid of disrupting their traditional systems so that the educational system can continue to be a bastion of progress and development,” she added.

Keeping students in school is becoming a major challenge, in an age when employment is transforming from traditional to digital. It noted that the youth are increasingly enamored with social media and have discovered many ways to monetize their experiences by sharing them online, according to the MAP.

“This situation is a crisis waiting to happen, and the consequence will put our competitiveness and national growth on the line. Education is critical to innovations and inventions, and (with the absence of) these two, our development will stagnate and so will our progress,” Du-Baladad said.

The MAP pointed out that even in pre-pandemic days, Filipino students were already lowest in reading and second to the lowest in mathematics and science, according to the 2018 results of the OECD Program for International Student Assessment.

“This worsened during the pandemic because the lockdowns stopped physical attendance, with the system shifting to the online mechanism. The lack of supervision that teachers do onsite contributed to further deterioration, and this negatively impacts the quality of education and graduates produced by educational institutions,” Du-Baladad said.

She noted Republic Act 11899, or the “Second Congressional Commission on Education II Act,” which created the EDCOM II to address the education crisis, looks at the entire system and comes up with targeted and measurable reforms.

“A public-private partnership in education is an idea whose time is ripe,” Du-Baladad said.?The MAP official agreed with a recent statement made by Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian sayng that basic education and technical-vocational education and training (TVET) are the most relevant to the business sector from among the 28 priority areas of EDCOM II.

“The vision of K-12 to turn out students going into the 11th and 12th grades as employment-ready, based on specialized skills that were supposed to be taught in the two added years, is far from being realized. Instead of getting better jobs, they end up taking on elementary jobs that do not pay well,” she said.

Du-Baladad stressed that there is a need to streamline the implementation of the K-12 system, so that it can fully integrate as a TVET program to increase enterprise-based learning where senior high school students will have more immersive experiences through certification training and exposure to actual work settings.

“A system for micro-credentialing should be created in such a way that a national certification program will qualify a student for better job opportunities and higher wages,” she said, adding that the Batang Magaling Act that was filed seeks the reform of the senior high school system in the country, which embeds a national certification for students.?While the lifespan of EDCOM II is three years, the MAP emphasized that actions are already being taken through the proposal of laws and recommendations for enabling policies and reforms.

Among these is House Bill 7370, which provides for independent councils that will recommend to the government the skills and jobs that are in step with developments in industries.

Another significant measure are Senate Bill 2029 and SB 1754, which both seek to improve the early childhood care in the Philippines as child stunting is one of the causes of poorer cognitive development.

“There is a need for effective and efficient management of public schools to streamline operations, remove duplications, improve the ratio of employees and administrators and be proficient in fiscal management. Likewise, the local government units must also actively participate in monitoring results of student performance by providing the Department of Education with timely information on issues of delivering education,” Du-Baladad said.

She added that programs of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority should be redesigned to be more future-oriented, particularly updating it to the technological advancement of the industries and training teachers and trainers to look at how they can prepare students proactively through innovative delivery, instead of a highly structured one.