TESDA denies Mindanao tech-voc institutions’ criticisms 

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 12 May) – The Technical Education Skills Development Authority (TESDA), in an 11-page letter to MindaNews, has denied criticisms against it and its director general claimed by the Mindanao Technical-Vocational Education Training Institutions (MinTVET).

TESDA Director-General Isidro Lapeña. Photo from the TESDA website

MinTVET earlier petitioned President Rodrigo Duterte for the review of performance of TESDA and the eventual replacement of Director-General Isidro Lapeña.

MindaNews asked Lapeña for his reaction on Tuesday but he said he did not have a copy of the petition. He later sent to MindaNews a table of TESDA’s responses to the issues and concerns raised by MinTVET.

On the allegation that TESDA has not been involving private TVET (technical-vocational education training) institutions in the implementation of skills training programs, the government agency said “there is no policy of exclusivity to public/government institutions. The existing policy is to provide the full absorptive capacity of the TESDA institutions and equitably distribute the remaining funds to the private institutions.”

Lapeña noted that from 2018 to 2021, only 32.6% of the scholarship funds went to TESDA institutions, while 50.6% went to private TVIs.

On the claim that TESDA has not been transparent in the distribution and allocation of scholarships for skills training (of all types) both for public and private, it countered that it has been regularly posting it on TESDA’s website.

On the appeal to order TESDA “to recall the directive issued by the Director General (Memo Order No. 005 s. 2020) to grant priority to public assessment centers (ACs) while relegating private assessment centers to a mere stand-by facility,” the government agency stated that “TESDA Circular No. 036 s 2021 on Scheduling of Assessment provides that the assignment of assessment centers shall be equitably distributed among all accredited assessment centers that are fully compliant…. While TTIs [TESDA Training Institutions] are prioritized, they constitute a small percentage of all the ACs in the regions.”

It further pointed out that in all Mindanao regions, there are 39 (or 6.81%) TTIs and 534 (93.19%) private technical-vocational institutions (TVIs). The number of assessments made from January 2020 to April 30, 2021, TESDA noted, was 56,704 (34.45%) for the TTIs and 107,909 (65.55%) for the private TVIs.

On the call “to review and correct the procedures in the payment of training costs under the scholarship program to allow submission of billing statements upon start of training and to pay training and assessment costs to private institutions on time or within reasonable time, without long periods of delay (6 months to 1 year delay),” TESDA said that payment of scholarships was delegated to its provincial offices in December 2019 for efficient processing. It added that it should only take five days “as long as documents submitted are complete and accurate. Delay in processing is due to lacking documents and inconsistencies in the submitted documents.”

On MinTVET’s call to review TESDA’s performance, the latter replied that its performance is reviewed every five years by an independent review panel appointed by the President. “TESDA is ISO-certified. The measures implemented by TESDA are in compliance with quality-assurance mechanisms under the ISO 9001:2015 requirements,” it stressed.

Furthermore, TESDA said that there is an “annual review by oversight agencies.”

MindaNews further interviewed three key MinTVET personalities in separate phone interviews after TESDA sent its replies to the group’s petition.

“We are a disgruntled group of Filipino educators and training providers that is leaning on the leader of our nation. These statements are on paper, but these are not happening on the ground. We are aggrieved because in truth, in reality, what DG Lapeña is saying now has not happened and if it did, only a minute few TVIs have been favored unlike before his term when Philippine government via TESDA really supported private TVIs across the Philippines,” Dr. Bonifacio Valdez, MinTVET president, told MindaNews when informed that TESDA has sent a table of responses to their issues presented.

“At any point, the petition is in the hands of the President. We have faith that the President will listen. We have already approached TESDA, sought their help, yet no assistance has been given to us. That’s the truth. That’s reality,” added MinTVET vice-president for internal affairs John Thomas Franco.

“We have faith that the President will act on this,” said Lourdes Mission, MinTVET board chair. (Frencie Carreon / MindaNews)