‘PH education needs to catch up with ASEAN neighbors’

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/23 May) – The country has lagged behind its ASEAN neighbors in terms of quality education despite the Filipino students’ competitive English communication skills, officials of private schools said Friday.

“We have so much to catch up with ASEAN, especially in higher education,” Rey Castro, assistant vice president for business development of the University of Mindanao, said in a press conference.

He cited that unlike the Philippines, other ASEAN countries have established a system for the quality of education, enabling many of their universities to land in the world ranking list.

Malaysia, for example, has less than 100 schools but over 10 of these made it to the world university rankings, Castro said.

But the Philippines, which has nearly 1,900 private and public colleges and universities, usually had only four or five schools included the list, he said.

“It is so because other ASEAN countries are conscious of the global requirements,” he explained.

Castro added the Commission on Higher Education has been doing reforms, which he hoped the new chairperson who will assume by August will continue.

Jimmie-Loe Dela Vega, executive director of the Davao Association of Colleges and Schools, said the areas that the Philippine educational system needs to enhance include skills or “what the students can really do” and “not just their knowledge”.

He said this is why the Enhanced Basic Education Program or K2+12 offers other areas of learning such as music and technical-vocational skills.

“Our youth will become employable when they reach 18 years old with K2+12,” he said, adding it prepares the youth for the global economy.

Republic Act No. 10533 or the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013 has increased the number of years for basic education. Aside from undergoing two years of kindergarten, students have to finish a total of 12 years of elementary and high school education.

Various sectors have opposed the K2+12 program even before it became a law and implemented starting June 2013. Progressive groups said it aims to produce skilled workers for the global market, while some parents viewed it as an added economic burden.

Youth and student organizations have repeatedly protested against what they call the commercialization of education as shown by the annual tuition hikes.

In the Davao Region, a total of 107 private elementary and high schools were allowed to increase their tuition and miscellaneous fees for school year 2014-2015. (Lorie Ann Cascaro/MindaNews)