MinTVET appeals to Pres. Duterte:  review TESDA performance, replace Lapena

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 10 May) – The Mindanao TechVoc Education Training Institutions (MinTVET) and associations of tech-voc institutions in the six regions of Mindanao, have filed a petition before the Office of the President, seeking a review of performance of the Technical Education Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the replacement of TESDA Director-General Isidro Lapena for alleged “gross incompetence.”

In its seven-page petition sent to the President on May 6,  the Technical Education And Skills Development Authority (TESDA) under the leadership of Director General Isidro I. Lapeña, killing the private technical-vocational institutions (TVIs)?

The petitioners aid private TVIs in Mindanao and the rest of the country are “struggling  for survival, suffering, and slowly dying not because solely of the effects of the global pandemic, but largely because of the ways of how TESDA is treating and dealing with the private TVIs, ignoring their significant roles and contributions, and utterly disregarding them in the management and delivery of skills training programs and conduct of national assessments.”

“This is a very serious appeal … to the President, and we hope that he would look at the situation from the standpoint of the private sector,” said Dr. Bonifacio Valdez, President of VMC Asian  College Foundation in Koronadal City and MinTVET President.

At least 500 member-schools across Mindnao’s six regions rallied behind the MinTVET Board and members of the MinTVET Past Presidents Council in their petition to President Duterte. Officers of the regional TVET associations, trainers and school administrators, also signed up.

“We hope and pray President Duterte will heed us, being a Mindanawon himself.  We sent him an eight-point petition.  We pray he takes immediate action and prevent the further closure and death of private  TVET schools,” Valdez said.

MinTVET, he explained, extends support to the regional associations “as we jointly bear the problems and suffer the plight of these schools.”

Lourdes Mission, President of EMAR Human and Enviironmental College in Davao City and chair of the MinTVET Board said one of their concerns is there is “no direct and indirect assistance provided by TESDA to the private TVIs for displaced trainers, staff and even to institutions through the form of scholarship vouchers to support their survival during the pandemic.”

She said the bulk of scholarship slots has been given to public technology institutions and TESDA “has continuously pirated trainers from private TVET institutions.”

John Thomas Franco, MinTVET Vice President for Internal Affairs, added that TESDA has not improved its processes and procedures on the payment of scholarships for years now, “resulting to non-payment of training costs for a long period of time, despite the fact that the concerned TVIs have already complied with documents required and other  requirements.”

In its petition, MinTVET  said  distribution of scholarships for skills training is “unjust, unfair, biased and partisan,” and alleged that it is “heavily favoring only public technology training Institutions while clearly ignoring the organizational capacities and capabilities of the private technical-vocational institutions.”

It also said operation of private assessment centers have been practically suspended or closed down due to a memo order from TESDA “giving all conduct of  assessment to the public centers, despite (their) lack of capacity, lack of TESDA assessors, and reports of irregularities in the management of the conduct of assessments.”

The petition noted that policies and directives on the moratorium on the Mobile Training Program (MTP) and corresponding implementation of the program are “unclear” and that TESDA is establishing more government training centers in towns “where there are a number of private TVIs that are already existing in the same locality and offering the same programs.”

The petitioners also said there is “no direct and indirect assistance provided by TESDA to the private TVIs for displaced trainers, staff and even to Institutions through the form of scholarship vouchers to support their survival, during COVID-19 global pandemic.”

TESDA, according to the petition, “has not improved its processes and procedures on the payment of scholarships for the past years, resulting to non-payment of training costs for a long period of time, despite the fact that the concerned TVIs have already complied with documents required and other requirements.”

It also pointed  out that with the bulk of scholarship slots allocated for public technology institutions, “TESDA has now and continuously pirated trainers from private TVET Institutions.”

The petition also took note that TESDA has “no clear plans for the participation and involvement of the private TVET sector nor the Technical-Vocational Institutions in TVET development.”

Valdez said they filed a petition so the President could “hopefully, take immediate action and help prevent the further closure and death of private TVET institutions.”

Private TVIs, he stressed, “have immensely and significantly contributed to skills training and development for the workforce and consequently in the employment of graduates, which in turn is a significant contribution to the economic growth of the country.“

The role of the private TVET sector, he added, “should not and cannot be disregarded as it plays a major role in the skills-demand and supply equilibrium.”

Valdzez said they had long brought these concerns to the attnetion of Lapena who allegedly ignored their appeal “to the detriment of our existence and operations.”

“It is for this reason that we humbly appeal to the President of this Republic, to this Mindanaoan, to order TESDA to immediately take into consideration the current plight of private TVET institutions, order the appropriate government agency or authorities to review the  performance of TESDA as a government agency in technical-vocational skills training and development, and replace TESDA DG Lapena for being inconsiderate of private institutions, consistently providing an unhealthy environment for the private sector to thrive well,” Valdez stressed.

He said MinTVET is petitioning for Lapena’s removal “as there has been a repeated violation on the provision on complementary roles in education and training between public and private, as enshrined in the Constitution of the Philippines and even emphasized under the TESDA Act, and the provision on mínimum and reasonable supervision over private institutions, and all of these constitute and are tantamount to gross incompetence as the leader and authority in TVET.”

Mission explained that they asked  President Duterte to  order TESDA to be “transparent in the distribution and allocation of scholarships for all types of skills training both for public and private.  We request that he order TESDA to recall the directive issued by Lapena that grants priority to public assessment centers while relegating private assessment centers to a mere stand-by facility.”

Mission said the private TVET institutions must be involved in the implementation of skills training programs through the allocation of scholarship vouchers intended for private TVET institutions and “rescind the policy direction of granting exclusivity to government institutions.”

MindaNews sought Lapena’s comment on the petition but he replied at 4:25 p.m. that he does not have a copy of the petition but “will check on this and get back to you ASAP.”

Lapena has not sent his response as of 7:15 p.m. (Frencie Carreon, MindaNews)