The UniFAST Board Must Implement RA 10931 In Its Entirety

As CHED Chair Dr. Patricia Licuanan is convening the expanded UniFAST Board in order to craft the implementing rules and regulations (IRRs) for the Universal Access to Tertiary Education Act (#UAQTEA or RA 10931), I would like to recall the first three resolutions approved jointly by the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC) and the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA).[1] I believe these shed important light on the spirit in which these major public and private educational associations would like the IRRs of RA 10931 crafted:

“That the Philippine System of Education provides access to quality higher education to all qualified Filipino students” (Resolution 1).   All the key words in this resolution are significant: system, access, quality, higher education, qualified students, Philippine, Filipino.

“That government scholarships be provided in quality higher education institutions both public and private.” (Resolution 2) The higher education institution (HEI) in which a government scholarship is granted is not indifferent. If the goal is to output quality higher-educated citizens for the common good, the quality of the HEIs is crucial, whether they be public or private.

“That qualified Filipino students able to pay for their higher education pay for it; that qualified Filipino students unable to pay for their education be fully supported in their higher education by government through scholarships and allowances as needed, especially in programs or courses consistent with the National Development Plan and contributory to the realization of Ambisyon Natin 2040” (Resolution 3).

The Constitution provides for free tuition only on the basic education level (Art. XIV, Sec 2[1]). Beyond basic education, it provides for quality higher education “accessible to all” (Art XIV, Sec 1). Access does not mean free. It means quality higher education is available, even if one must pay for it. It means, for instance, that if one desires education whose standards are internationally recognized, one need not have to go abroad to access it.

PASUC and COCOPEA take the position that students who can pay for their higher education should pay for it, either through their own or their families’ private resources or through loans that they can re-pay eventually.

But PASUC-COCOPEA also jointly resolve that qualified students who cannot pay for their education because of their economic situation be fully supported, not only with free tuition and fees, but with other forms of necessary assistance such as board and lodging, transportation, or even personal out-of-pocket allowance. The resolution comes from long-standing experience with scholars that the material scholarship alone is not enough to educate well and lift a family out of poverty, but that if a qualified student is properly supported through higher education, the support can eventually lift a whole family out of poverty while providing Philippine society with Filipino citizen of higher education, that is, reflective and critical in his or her humane citizenship and excellently trained in a chosen profession.

It is in this spirit, I think, that the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act (RA 10931) was crafted, passed and signed into law. Its IRRs and appropriate funding should ensure its faithful implementation. In this context, allow me the following reflections:

Access to quality higher education through SUCs

RA 10931 is not a law to provide free higher education to those in our society who can afford to pay for higher education. It is not a law designed for students in an SUC to get flashy cars or exotic trips from their wealthy parents who no longer have to pay high tuition for quality education. That is why RA 10931 has a ”voluntary opt out” clause “to enable students with financial capacity to pay for their education at the SUC … or make a contribution to the school” (Sec 7). When this was being discussed, I argued that it seemed to legislate against the natural law. But it was nevertheless legislated as a matter of truth or as a matter of honor for the students and their families concerned. The opt out is not mandatory, but a genuine option where state resources in support of higher education need not be squandered on the wealthy but preserved for genuinely needy but qualified students.

Where RA 10931 now provides free higher education to all those who are admitted to it, in the light of the PASUC-COCOPEA Resolutions but even and especially in the light of RA 10931 itself, the quality of the SUCs must be attended to and improved, not only by the administrators of the concerned SUCs but especially by the politicians whose laws or bad habits may have harmed the SUCs in the past. As the leaders of the PASUC made abundantly clear during our Conversations, the proposal to grant free tuition in SUCs, leading to SUCs being overrun by burgeoning populations without their being able to provide quality education, was an abomination to them. For them, it is upsetting when politicians only increase access to SUCs while ignoring the funds necessary for improved quality. No iskolar ng bayan ought have to suffer a poor quality school.

Where SUCs are now being fully funded by the State, they ought now become the HEIs of choice, as they are powerfully in China. But for this, much rethinking must be done to generally improve the quality of SUCs through a serious culture of quality assurance. SUC funding should not be based merely on student population, but also on the recommendations of truly external quality assurance agencies using internationally acceptable quality standards and procedures. PASUC and COCOPEA have committed themselves to a culture of quality assurance based on the ASEAN Quality Assurance Framework of the ASEAN Quality Assurance Network (Resolution 7). The products of all quality assured HEIs, public and private, must be recognizable and acceptable in all ASEAN countries. Unto this goal, accreditation agencies must be accredited by external agencies to ensure international levels of quality.

Where RA 10931 has granted free tuition in all SUCs, LUCs and state-run TVIs, the State must ensure that the students who go to these schools receive truly quality education. Hence, “The CHED and the TESDA shall ensure quality standards in the review and consequent endorsement of the budget of the SUCs, LUCs, and state-run TVIs.” (Sec 10). This may mean that the number of those who go to SUCs may need to be limited while the quality standards of the school are raised to international levels. The admission standards of SUCs should guarantee excellent academic performance for Philippine Society.

Access to quality higher education through private HEIs

This is also why RA 10931’s universal access to quality tertiary education does not rely only on SUCs and free tuition in SUCs. All cannot be admitted to SUCs. Indeed, “The State recognizes the complementary roles of public and private higher education institutions and technical-vocations institutions in the educational system and the invaluable contribution that the private tertiary schools have made and will make to education…” (Section 2).

Therefore a qualified student who cannot be admitted to an SUC, LUC or state-run TVI, or who simply opts to go to a private HEI or private TVI based on its evidenced quality, may be helped by this law through its Tertiary Education Subsidy for Filipino Students (TES, Sec. 7) and its Student Loan Program for Tertiary Education (Sec 8).

Through the TES, the qualified student may receive “tuition and other school fees in private HEIs, and private or LGU-operated TVIs, which shall be equivalent to the tuition and other school fees of the nearest SUC or state-run TVI in their respective areas.” The provision is similar to the manner in which the value of the vouchers for senior high schools was determined based on the cost of public educational provision in the area.

Where this TES may not be sufficient to cover the tuition and fees required by a private HEI, the student may avail of the Student Loan Program to make up the difference between the TES subsidy and the actual tuition and fees required by the private HEI.

Loans will be repayed through the students’ future contributions either to the GSIS or the SSS.

IRRs for the Implementation of RA 10931 in its entirety

It is the UniFAST Board led by CHED Chair Patricia Licuanan that must see to the crafting of the IRRs and propose appropriate funding for RA 10931 within the next 50 days.

The IRRs and the funding of RA 10931 should be for its implementation in its entirety. It is not a law only for free tuition in SUCs. It is not a law that limits state-supported access to quality tertiary education to SUCs.   It is not a law that can be arbitrarily implemented first for SUCs, then for LUCs, then for state-run TVIs, then only for private HEIs. It is not a law that is crafted only to correct the mismatch between academe and industry. It is a law about universal quality tertiary education enacted in the context of a national development plan that envisages a socially-just society by 2040.

It is a law that must do as it promises: provide universal access to quality tertiary education. This is possible only through the living complementarity between public and private education in the country today.

Alongside provisions for students in SUCs, LUCs, and state-run TVIs, equivalent provisions must be made for students in private HEIs and private TVIs through robust allocations for the TES and the Student Loan Program.

 


[1]2nd Round of the PASUC-COCOPEA “Conversations on the Complementarity between Public and Private HEIs” held at the Ateneo de Davao University, 12-13 January, 2017.

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Mother in Heaven, Show Us the Way

[Homily:  ADDU Fiesta of Our Lady of the Assumption]

We come today in celebration of Mary’s Assumption.  We celebrate Mary in heavenly glory.

But celebrating Mary in heavenly glory is necessarily a celebration of Mary, the simple woman, still a virgin, chosen by God in the small town of Nazareth to play a role in his plan to intervene  in history to redeem the world.  When we focus on Mary in the midst of the Blessed Trinity in heaven, we also recall her humility and courage in allowing God to use her in his redemption of humankind.  Assumed body and soul into heaven, we now celebrate her as Queen of heaven and earth.  But that queenship is but a crowning glory for her readiness, despite her fears and misgivings, on this earth and for all eternity to be the Mother of the savior:  “Let it be done unto me according to Thy will,” she said.  It was the consent which united to God’s saving will human free will, uniting divinity with humanity, uniting to the Word of God’s compassionate yes to humanity humanity’s humble yes to divinity.  In celebrating Mary assumed into heaven for having said yes to God’s will on earth, we celebrate her Assumption most profoundly – beyond song and dance, eating and drinking – when we honor her in ourselves saying yes to God’s will on earth.

We say that yes often. At every Mass, in every Rosary, whenever we pray the Our Father, we pray, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  But we also admit, often we pray these prayers without attention to what we are saying;  often the prayerful formula masquerades as genuine prayer, so that the radical yes to God’s revolutionary will is reduced to a superficial yes to the will of the status quo, a consenting willy nilly to the way today’s society collectively wills to reserve prosperity only for a privileged few, to keep people ignorant, unreflective and subservient to this will, to so define social development that the established increase and consolidate their wealth on the labor and subservience of the majority, no matter the exclusion of the abject poor, no matter the devastating costs on the environment.  But when we with Mary today pray, “Let it be done to me according to your Word,” we are consenting to do the Father’s will, as his Son, the Word of God’s love, the Word of God’s Compassion, the Word of God’s Justice, looks at ourselves in our society today, ourselves confronting a society where so many families are broken by economic needs, or by destructive addictions, or by inabilities of family members to talk to each, to reconcile difference, to recognize the Spirit trying to bring family members to look up from their cellphones and tablets and talk to one another as human beings.  We are consenting to do the Father’s will in responding to a society where there is yet so much appalling ignorance, where so many are unable to access the quality education we access, where so many educated fall short of the quality reflectiveness we need for social justice and social revolution, where in Muslim Mindanao teachers fall short of the qualifications necessary to deliver basic education to a population hungry for education, and children all over the country get education without getting educated.  Thy will be done.  We are consenting to do the Father’s will against the way we use drugs for special entertainment, just to break the boredom through a chemically induced high, or how we binge ourselves to drunkenness, and, drunk, throw morality out the window, abuse each other, then blame the other for the abuse we invite, and so turn a night of abandon into a nightmare of personal transgression, violence or even death.  Thy will be done, we pray.  Thy will be done, when we neglect to smell the flowers or appreciate the clarity of the rushing waters, and so allow profit-seeking corporations to destroy the mountains, cut down the forests, kill the rivers and poison the fields we use for planting the food we eat.  Thy will be done when we finally gain insight into the historical injustice committed by ourselves against Filipino Muslims or against the communities of our indigenous peoples, and know that lasting peace cannot come without doing justice.  Thy will be done, when after all the bombing and killing to preserve the State and the common good, the confusion persists as to who the real enemy is, and confusion reigns as to whether God wills war or God wills peace, and when today the children, especially the children, feel they have no home in their homeland, and where in all the dust and rubble, they are simply hungry.  God’s will be done.  We pray it all the time.  But somehow getting truly involved in doing God’s will eludes us.  We get distracted by petty matters of great concern.  Yet, on this Feast of the Assumption, when we recall that we too are meant to be assumed as Mary into heaven, we must renew ourselves in our willingness to say, “Let it be done to me according to your Word.”

The theme of our Fiesta, which is owned not only by the student community, but by the entire University community, faculty, staff, administrators, students, is:  Mary, Our Mother, Protector, Intercessor and Guide as we dream and work for genuine solidarity and peace. Gratefully, from the time Jesus on the Cross presented Mary, his mother, to us as our mother, we call her mother, Ina, Inay, Mama, Mama Mary.  As our mother, in these confusing and dangerous times, she is our Protector.  She points us to her Son loving us all, and so points us to all that is essential in life.  In the power of her Son, she shields us from the enemy, even often from the enemy within.  She is our Intercessor.  In times of need, we pray, “Remember O most gracious Virgin Mary… never was it know that anyone who fled to thy protection, invoked thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided…”  From our experience, we know she never fails.  She is our Guide.  As a Mother she is at our side to counsel and advise.  She is our Mother, protecting, inspiring and guiding us as we dream and work for genuine solidarity and peace.  We dream, not the wistful experiences of disjointed consciousness in slumber, but we dream, consciously and conscientiously cultivating great desires to work together in solidarity with others that brings about social justice, and thereby genuine peace.  In the joy and great privilege that we have to be part of this school and so participate in this fiesta of Our Lady of the Assumption, let us find our solidarity with the poor and the excluded.

Many of you still recall Fr. Ning Puentevella who recently published a little book with many beautiful illustrations called Mary, Quite Contrary.  It is a remarkable book of a humble Jesuit with an extraordinary love for Mary.  In talking about Our Lady of the Assumption, Fr. Ning says, “What we affirm of her, we hope for ourselves.” As Mary is in heaven, so too do we hope to reach heaven;  as Mary was redeemed through the death and resurrection of her Son, so too do we hope to be redeemed in his death and resurrection; as she in heaven was transformed in flesh and in spirit, so too do we hope to be transformed from these earthly vulnerable concupiscent pain-ridden bodies and drooping spirits to the glorious fullness of body and spirit, ultimately the “fullness of life” in heaven that that her Son came to our world to bring us (cf John 10:10);  as she whole and ecstatic embracing her Son is embraced by the Father in the love of the Spirit, so too do we hope to experience in heaven the ecstasy of this heavenly embrace.  And as we do well consciously to dream of this today by embracing our responsibilities for social justice, solidarity and peace on this earth, we ask our Mother, to show us the way.

She does so by pointing us to her Son, the Way, the Truth and the Life, looking into our hearts from the Cross, pointing to her as our mother.  She points us to her Son, and all that this entails, as only a Mother can.

 

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CHED Chair PBL Must Convene expanded UniFAST Board

In the excitement of President Rodrigo Duterte’s signing the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act (#UAQTEA) or RA 10931, people have jumped to wanting to implement it without reading it.  Sec. Benjamin Diokno of the DBM has declared that he shall head the formulation of its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRRs), and CHED Commissioner Popoy de Vera has come out in a Malacañang Press Briefing to describe a staggered implementation of the law, first funding free tuition in the SUCs, then in accredited LUCs, then presumably the UniFAST over a period of three or four years, if I understood him correctly.   For a law that was very carefully crafted by Congress after extensive consultation of stakeholders towards providing not only access to higher education to all but also of ensuring its quality, the sense is the IRRs are now already being crafted by persons who are primarily interested in denying it appropriate funds or by persons who do not appreciate the genius of this bill in its recognition of the constitutionally-mandated complementarity between public and private education.  Clearly, the economic adviser who pressured President Duterte to veto this act should not head the committee on its IRRs.  And the spokesperson for CHED should wait for the legal formulation of legitimate IRRs before explaining how it is to be implemented.

Again, RA 10931 is not just about free tuition for the privileged few in SUCs.[1]  It is about universal access to quality higher education for all where public and private HEIs work together to provide all quality higher education.  That is what must be funded and implemented in its entirety.   Otherwise, the law is undermined.  Otherwise, where the President is committed to the rule of law, his secretaries honor this commitment in the breach.

The law is clear:  Concerning the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 10931, “within sixty days from the effectivity of this act, the UniFAST Board, in consultation with the CHED, the TESDA, and other relevant stakeholders in higher and technical education, shall promulgate the implementing rules and regulations necessary to ensure the efficient and effective implementation of this Act.

The membership of the Unified Student Financial System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) Board is defined by the Unifast Law (RA 10687) and expanded by the EAQTEA law (RA 10931).

According to the UniFAST law, the membership of the Board consists of the following:

“(a) The CHED Chairperson as ex offico Chairperson;

“(b) The Secretary of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) as ex offico Co-Chairperson;

“(c) The TESDA Director General as ex officio Co-Chairperson;

“(d) The Secretary of the Department of Education (DepED) as ex officio member;

“(d) A representative from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) as ex officio member;

“(e) A representative from the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) as ex officio member;

“(f) A representative from the National Youth Commission (NYC) as ex officio member” (Sec. 14)

The UAQTEA law or RA 10931 expanded this membership by five to include the:

“(a) President of the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges as Member;

“(b) Chairman of the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations as Member;

“(c) Chairman of the Association of Local Colleges and Universities as Member;

“(d) President of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) as a non-voting Member;

“(e) President of the Social Security System (GSIS) as a non-voting Member” (Sec 13).

For the IRRs of the EAQTEA Law (RA 10931) it is CHED Chairperson Patricia Licuanan who must convene the expanded UniFAST Board consisting of twelve members, 10 voting and 2 non-voting).  It is the IRR that this Board promulgates that shall govern the implementation of the RA 10931.

This said, allow me some personal reflections:

The economic managers who have formulated the National Development Plan which envisions a socially just society by 2040 should befriend the EAQTEA in its entirety.  Certainly, higher education must address the mismatch between academe and industry or between academe and the economy.  But higher education is not only about jobs.  It is about forming Filipino citizens who value their being Filipino in a just and peaceful Philippine society, their humanity in a humane global society, and who therefore critically understand the difference between freedom and arbitrariness, duty and licentiousness,  religion and ideology, radicalism and extremism, efficiency and corruption, and affirm personal dual responsibilities in followership and leadership.

The funding for the EAQTEA should be for its provisions in its entirety.  Funding must not just be for blind access to but deserved quality higher education.  Quality education is not a monopoly of the SUCs, just as universal access is not a virtue of private Education.  But outputting graduates optimally who will contribute well to the realization of Ambisyon Natin 2040 must result from the wise encouragement and financial support of the complementary between the country’s public and private HEIs today.  The cooperation between public and private HEIs is acknowledged by the new partnership between the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC) and the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA), which will soon be expanded to include the Association of Local Colleges and Universities (ALCU).  That is why the heads of these organizations are now part of the UniFAST Board.

The UniFAST Board will have to determine how scarce resources can be best used to optimize the output of quality graduates through the EAQTEA.  Prioritization of SUCs over LUCs over private HEIs may undermine this.  Support, on the other hand, of qualified students wishing higher education to serve the higher manpower requirements of the “smart population” envisaged in Ambisyon Natin 2040 in either public or private HEIs of evidenced quality may advance it.  The prioritization may therefore be for those quality scientists, engineers, social scientists, doctors, nurses, and even religious and moral leaders required by Ambisyon Nating 2040, and not those going to this or that type of HEI.

In the long term quality will have to be nurtured through the HEIs’ commitment to quality assurance within the ASEAN Quality Assurance Framework.  Both PASUC and COCOPEA have formally committed themselves to this.

Finally, to make this work, funding must from the beginning be large enough to make not only the Tertiary Education Subsidy but the Student Loan Program for Tertiary Education function in proper complementarity.  The latter fund is wisely not a hand-out, but a loan seriously to be repayed.   The loan fund, therefore, will eventually revolve, allowing more and more qualified students access to quality education.  Unto this end, the law states, “Repayment shall be effected by incorporating a portion of the loan amount or a portion thereof in the employee’s monthly Social Security System (SSS) or Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) contribution, as the case may be, based on a reasonable schedule of repayment and interest rates, as may be formulated by the UniFAST Board” (Sec. 8).  It is for this reason that RA10931 provides that both the Presidents of the SSS and the GSIS be non-voting members of the UniFAST Board.

In the end, it is not the DBM Secretary that is to provide funds for this milestone in educational legislation.  It is Congress, through the General Appropriations Act (Sec. 15).  I am grateful that such legislators as Congressman Karlo Nograles and Sen. Loren Legarda have shown themselves to be very supportive of quality higher education for all.   As President Duterte rightly said after he signed the act into law, it is now up to the Congress to fund it.  Among the many things that Congress funds, quality higher education for all must certainly be a priority!

 

 

 


[1] Please see: https://taborasj.wordpress.com/2017/08/06/thank-you-mr-president-for-signing-ra-10931-which-is-much-more-than-free-tuition-in-sucs/

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Thank you, Mr. President, for signing RA 10931, which is much more than Free Tuition in SUCs!

As an educator convinced all ought to collaborate towards the achievement of Ambisyon Natin 2040, I am grateful to you, Mr. President, for signing the Universal Access to Quality Higher Education Act, now RA 10931, into law.

You needed to study whether the nation could afford this law because of the many other things it can do with government funds.  Like many Filipino parents you decided against many other good things for higher education.  You decided we could not afford not to provide for higher education for our youth.  Thank you for that, Mr. President.

In announcing its passage into law, the media has referred to this as the Free Tuition Bill or the Free Tuition Act.  That may have its merit, for RA 10931 does now grant that when the bill is finally implemented those who are working for their first undergraduate degree in State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) or in Local Universities and Colleges (LUCs) be exempt from paying tuition and fees, provided that they pass the entrance exam and do not voluntarily opt out of this subsidy program (Sec 4).  It is the same for those who are enrolled in state-run post secondary Technical Vocational Institutions run under TESDA (Sec 5).  In this sense, HB 10931 is a Free Tuition Bill.  And in this sense, those who are attending state-run academic or technical schools on the tertiary level have reason to rejoice.

But HB 10931 is more than a Free Tuition Bill.  For this reason, the legislators did not want it referred to as a Free Tuition Bill.  They wanted it referred to as the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act (Sec 1).

That was their preferred way of referring to the law whose full title is “An Act Promoting Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education by Providing for Free Tuition and Other School Fees in State Universities and Colleges, Local Universities and Colleges and State-Run Technical Vocational Institutions, Establishing the Tertiary Education Subsidy and Student Loan Program, Strengthening the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education and Appropriating Funds Therefor.”

The law’s official short title is indeed preferable to “Free Tuition Act.”  This law is not just about free tuition for those privileged to be accepted into state-run tertiary level schools like U.P. or Bicol State University or Mindanao State University.  It is about promoting access to quality tertiary education for all.   That is the meaning of universal access, access for all.   But is also not about promoting access to just any higher education. The legislators were aware, as parents and students are, that improving access to bad education is a sham.  That is why emphatically RA 10931 is not just about free tuition, but about improving universal access to quality tertiary education.  The legislators and the educators whom they consulted were aware that while state-run schools ought to deliver quality education, in many state-run schools quality is a work in progress.  That work in progress would be seriously impeded were the state schools suddenly overpopulated by students entitled to free higher education.  They were also aware that even if all state run schools were schools of highest quality, they would not be able to accommodate all Filipinos wishing to get quality higher education.

This is why the Declaration of Policy of RA 10931 states:

“…the State hereby recognizes the complementary roles of public and private higher education institutions and technical vocational institutions in the educational system and the invaluable contribution that the private tertiary schools have made and will continue to make to education.  For these intents the State shall:

“(a) Provide adequate funding and such other mechanisms to increase the participation rate among all socio-economic classes in tertiary education;

“(b) Provide all Filipinos with equal opportunity to quality tertiary education in both the public and private educational institutions;

“(c)  Give priority to students who are academically able and who come from poor families…”

This is why this law also provides help for students who cannot be accepted into state universities and who opt for quality education in private higher educational institutions.

As the formal title of RA 10931 announces, that help comes through the Tertiary Education Subsidy (Sec 7) and the Student Loan Program (Sec. 8).

“To support the cost of tertiary education or any part or portion thereof, a Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES) is hereby established for all Filipino students who shall enroll in undergraduate post-secondary programs of SUCs, LUCs, private HEIs, and all TVIs. The TES shall be administered by the UniFAST Board and the amount necessary to fund the TES shall be included in the budgets of the CHED and the TESDA….”  Priority in the use of the TES is according to economic need.

Against the media perception that RA 10931 is just about free tuition in SUCs, it includes private HEIs and also private TVIs.  The State is mandated to provide the necessary funds for the TES in the budgets of CHED and TESDA.  These are funds that “shall be included in the General Appropriations Act” (Sec 15).

What can be funded by the TES?

“The TES may, among others, and to support the cost of tertiary education or any part thereof, cover the following:

“(a) Tuition and other school fees in private HEIs, and private or LGU-operated TVIs, which shall be equivalent to the tuition and other schools fees of the nearest SUC or state-run TVI in their respective areas.

“(b) An allowance for books, supplies, transportation and miscellaneous personal expenses, including a reasonable allowance for the documented rental or purchase of a personal computer or laptop, and other related personal expenses;

“(c) An allowance for room and board costs incurred by the student;

“(d) For a student with a disability, an allowance for expenses related to the student’s disability, including special services, personal assistance, transportation equipment, and supplies that are reasonably incurred; and

“(e)  For a student in a program requiring professional license or certification, the one (1)-time cost of obtaining the first professional credentials or qualifications…” (Sec 7).

Beyond the TES, to further help students in higher education, RA 10931 provides for a Student Loan Program for Tertiary Education also to be administered by the UniFAST Board.  For example, qualified students opting to go to a private HEI where the TES subsidy is insufficient to cover its tuition and fees may avail of this loan program.

Crucial for the proper implementation of  the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act is the Board of the Unified Student Financial Assistance for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) which will craft its implementing policies.  This refers to the harmonized, state-run and administered system of higher education and vocational scholarships, grants-in-aid, student loans and other modalities of student financial assistance program under RA 10687. What is insightful about RA 10931 is that for this state-run system of higher education, it considers the state-run system mature enough to include the representative of the private HEIs in an expanded UniFAST Board.  Hence:

“The UniFAST Board shall be expanded to include … (b) the chairman of the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Apostolates”.

Thank you, Mr. President, for overcoming the reported objections of your economic managers and signing the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act into law!  While it does not say that all Filipinos must get college-level education, it does provide hope for all desiring it, especially for the poorest of the poor, to get this education.  While it does not say it will fulfill dreams of all ambitioning higher education immediately, it is a framework through which the State will increasingly help fulfill these dreams through the State’s system of education where public and private higher educational institutions work in complementarity to provide quality higher education for all (cf. Article XIV of the 1987 Philippine Constitution)..

If the objections to RA 10931 were coming from the economic managers of your administration, thank you, Mr. President, for overcoming the objection based on the vision of Ambisyon Natin 2040 which they fervently espouse in the Philippine National Development Plan.  This is a vision of a socially-just society where all contribute to the prosperity of the Filipino nation created by and enjoyed by all.  That is a revolutionary vision which entails a radical re-distribution of educational benefits in the country, based, hopefully, on the willingness of its beneficiaries to serve not personal private interests but the interests of the common good.  Getting this straight is a challenge to the HEIs, public and private, of this country. But judging from the considered commitments made by public and private educators in the Philippine Association of State Colleges and Universities (PASUC) and the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA) in supporting the passage of RA 10931, the HEIs are willing to grow in responding positively to this challenge of quality education for all unto the fulfillment of Ambisyon Natin 2040.  In the end a better educated population contributes essentially to the vision of the future, Amsisyon Natin 2040, that the economic managers espouse under your administration.  For investing in human capital is infinitely more urgent than investing in physical infrastructure, even and especially in responding to problems of religious extremism and of social exclusion.  Thank you, Mr. President, for opting to Build! Build! Build! first and foremost your people!

 

 

 

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Mr. President, Please Sign the Tertiary Education Act!

tertiary educ iiI would like to reiterate our request to our President to sign the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act (UAQTEA).

I say this especially to our economic managers and to our friends at the National Economic Development Authority – whose chair is none other than the President himself, but whose members like the Hon. Ernesto Pernia and the Hon Benjamin Diokno with the President preside over the economic development of the nation.

I invite the President and the other economic managers of the country to embrace this legislation as indispensable for the realization of the National Development Plan whose end vision is Ambisyon Natin 2040.  This is a good vision for the nation:  the idea of a society where there are no scandalously rich and where there are no egregiously poor; the idea of a society where smart people work productively in the Philippines generating national wealth that is equitably distributed; the idea where all participate pro-actively in nation building and all without exception benefit from development;  the idea where families can come together on weekends using public transportation that works in order to enjoy the blessings of family.  This is the vision that the President and his economic managers should be constantly challenging all citizens of the Philippines to cooperate and collaborate together to realize.  It is a vision that Filipinos of all ethnicities and religions can embrace.

To transition to this society where social justice is achieved from the confused divided, violent, and warring society that we have today will take much doing.  But it is a transition that the vision itself should inspire and guide.

It will not be achieved by just building more roads and bridges.  Roads and bridges will not solve the social injustice in the country.  Pouring billions and billions aggressively into physical infrastructure without addressing the problem of social injustice in the country will only exacerbate the social injustice.  It will only provide better infrastructure for the elite to more efficiently exploit the poverty and ignorance of the poor.

That is not the spirit of the President.  That is not the genius of Ambisyon Natin 2040.

The genius of Ambisyon Natin 2040 is social justice.  But social justice is a profoundly people thing.  It is not something mechanistically achieved and attained by Presidential fiat.  It is not the necessary outcome of any rebellion, nor of any war.  It is rather something motivated by a worthy vision like Ambisyon Natin 2040 that draws out of self-centered often selfish people the free and intelligent cooperation to achieve a common good.  Ambisyon Natin 2040 is a worthy statement of a national common good.

In the achievement of this national common good all must participate freely and intelligently.  The President and the economic managers must continually call forth this free and intelligent cooperation.

It is education that enables the participation.  Basic education provides every Filipino with the basic knowledge and skills, including basic knowledge of Philippine history, the goals of our nation in Ambisyon Natin 2040, and basic skills in socialization in a diverse culture as the Philippines. Higher education deepens critical insight into the Filipino/a as a responsible person in human society and empowers the citizen to freely contribute to a humane Philippine society; it also provides crucial professional training for his or her productive contribution to the Philippine economy.

The UAQTEA is the President’s and his economic managers’ vehicle of empowering larger numbers of people to participate productively in realizing the shared prosperity envisioned for Ambisyon Natin 2040.  Here, wealth is created and equitably distributed not by an exclusive elite in imperial Manila but by an increasingly large smart middle class that exploits a knowledge economy to increasingly peripheralize, and eventually eliminate, both the scandalously rich and the destitute poor.

Unto this end, President and the economic managers through the UAQTEA can channel the current voluntary collaboration between the private and public schools, (COCOPEA AND PASUC) towards forming the Filipino citizens and professionals necessitated by Ambisyon Natin 2040.

If Ambisyon Natin is truly to be achieved by 2040 let the UAQTEA’s Tertiary Education Subsidy and its loan funds, and the funds to be channeled to students by the United Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UNIFAST), help make this possible.  These funds could support students embracing the goals of Ambisyon Natin 2040 and willing to dedicate themselves and their professional lives to its fulfillment in quality higher education institutions with functioning quality assurance mechanisms aligned with the ASEAN quality assurance network, and not in diploma mills that undermine not only personal lives but Ambisyon Nation 2040 itself.  It is the ambition of the vision itself that insists that these numbers of highly educated be not just be partial but universal, embracing all. Therefore, the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education.  Where people are left behind in education, they are prey to poverty, manipulation and exploitation.  Where higher education is unevenly enjoyed, social justice is not achieved.

With UAQTEA let a functioning dialogue between NEDA and the higher educational institutions flourish to name the qualifications of professionals and the qualifications of citizenship that are required by Ambisyon Natin 2040.  In every region of the Philippines, where public and private universities collaborate in higher education, let it be stated what it required in entrepreneurs, business managers, accountants, doctors, nurses, chemists, physicists, mathematicians, lawyers, engineers, teachers, mechanics, computer scientists, IT experts, statisticians.  Let is also be stated what is required in social scientists, psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists  and even religious leaders are needed.  Let it be clarified what is expected of educated citizens in Ambisyon Natin 2040.   Then let the HEIs work together in empowering students to embrace these roles.

Because the chances of this government achieving Ambisyon Natin 2040 are increased through UAQTEA, and because higher education institutions are eager to contribute to the human infrastructure needs of Ambisyon Natin 2040, the President should sign UAQTEA into law.

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Mr. President, Please Sign the Tertiary Education Act

law grad homily

We are eagerly awaiting the President to sign the “Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act” (UAQTEA).

It is the State that has the responsibility to protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education on all levels for all (Art XIV, Sec. 1).  The President is the head of State.  He knows the yearning of the poor not just for basic education but also for higher education.  UAQTEA does not only provide for higher education, it provides for quality higher education.

The Bicameral agreed on its final version last May 29.  On July 5, it was sent to the President for his signature.

The UAQTEA went through considerable consultation of stakeholders and transformation.  It was originally a measure to increase access to tertiary education through free tuition in SUCs.  But on the insistence of educators, both public and private, and of the CHED, it became a measure that considers quality as important as access.  It was a measure that initially increased access only through free tuition in State Universities and Colleges (SUCs).  It is now a measure that includes Local Universities and Colleges (LUCs) and state-run post-secondary Technical-Vocational Institutions.  Importantly, it also now includes the promise of significant funding for students who opt to go to private Higher Education Institutions (private HEIs) through the CHED or TESDA.

It is a measure that recognizes the significant complementary roles that private HEIs and public HEIs play in the “complete, adequate and integrated system of quality education” “accessible to all” and “relevant to the needs of the people and society” that the Constitution mandates the State to provide.  (Art. XIV, Secs. 1 & 2; Sec 4[1]]).

For Philippine education, the UAQTEA is a genuine breakthrough.

It is a breakthrough because it genuinely increases the hopes, especially of the poor, to enjoy quality higher education.  While higher education earlier was considered a privilege only of those who could pay for it, the UATEA gives genuine substance to the constitutional mandate to make education on all levels accessible to all.

It puts serious money into enhancing access to quality higher education since it provides funding through the General Appropriations Act.

Its direction, in my view, is to make SUCs the quality higher institutions of choice.  In China, SUCs are the higher educational institutions of choice because of their quality.  But the UAQTEA helps those who cannot be accepted into SUCs attain quality private education through the Tertiary Education Subsidy that may be complemented through a Student Loan Program for Higher Education.  Other helps for Filipinos choosing higher education shall come through the funding provided by EAQTEA for the Unified Student Financial Assistance for Tertiary Education (UNIFAST).

The President should sign this bill because universal access to quality tertiary education is truly necessary for the development of our country.

Build! Build! Build! may be necessary to update and expand our physical infrastructure.  But if we are serious about our Philippine future we must first build, build build our human infrastructure.  Wisely, we must not scrimp on this, as we know from Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.  Wisely we must educate our people to build the society envisioned in Ambisyon Nation 2040.  That is not a society where a minority wealthy and educated lords it over a majority poor and ignorant, as is the Philippines of today.  Ambisyon Natin 2040 is a society where all people are happy because they are knowlegable and smart, where infrastructure works for them all, and not just a for ruling elite.

Build! Build! Build! without attending to the social contradictions in our society is a massive, ostentatious, extravagant investment in allowing the elite of today to build its future on the backs of laborers who will build that infrastructure.  This is not in the spirit of the President elected by 15 million voters.

So let is not be said that our economy cannot afford the UAQTEA because it needs to build infrastructure.  Our economy cannot afford the infrastructure if all this does is allow the wealthy to prosper more at the expense of workers who build the infrastructure.

Our country has survived and prospered on the backs of our poor who till today enrich our economy through their labor in foreign countries. But Ambisyon Natin 2040 wants to bring them home so that families can enjoy being with one another on weekends (and not in Dubai or Bahrain or Saudi Arabia) using public transportation that works.  To have a society where we create wealth and distribute it equitably at home, our people must be well educated.

For me, as much as higher education is about building the competencies of professionals, it is more urgently about ensuring the competencies of human beings.  People must be educated well not only to be good engineers, chemists, lawyers, teachers and doctors.  They must be educated well to be good human beings.  They must know the difference between religion and ideology, between the worship of a God of compassion and love, and the worship of an idol of violence and death.  They must know the difference between freedom and arbitrariness, desire and compulsion, love and lust, right and wrong.  In being prepared to build the society foreseen in Ambisyon Natin 2040 they must be empowered to critically weigh the relative claims of industry and of the environment, of investors and laborers, of urban and rural dwellers.  They must be educated well enough to be able to resolve social conflicts without resorting to killing one another, and to express deep passion and emotion without resorting to poetry of the gutter.

For the realization of Ambisyon Natin 2040 every Filipino/a should be able to access higher education.  And every HEI, public and private, should be enlisted to provide the human infrastructure that this vision requires.

For a Philippine society where we will build our future not on the cadavers of our people but put people on top of their infrastructure, the President should sign the UAQTEA.

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Philippine Educational Challenges Towards Transformational Education

[Address: Centennial Lecture Series of Colegio del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus, Iloilo, 27 July 2017]

 

As Colegio del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus (CSCJ) celebrates the Centenary of its founding this year, I am deeply honored by your invitation to make a contribution to your Centennial Leadership Lecture Series. As by God’s grace you commence your second centenary of educational service to Iloilo and the Philippines, I am happy that you are interested in the educational challenge to leadership – which is one of my abiding concerns. I am also challenged by the topic you have assigned to me: “Philippine Educational Challenges towards Transformational Education.” It is however a very broad topic which I hope we can narrow down to specific challenges to CSCJ in the course of this talk.

Transformational Education

Education in the Philippines is necessarily transformational, or, as others say, transformative. Through education an ignorant, ill-mannered, unskilled, unqualified persons is transformed through instruction and learning activities into an informed, well-mannered, skilled, and qualified person. Education (ex ducere) leads out of the learner the actualization of his or her many personal possibilities. Education leads the learned adolescent out of the child and the responsible adult out of the adolescent. Importantly, education leads the human being out of the human. For many human beings, the treasures of humanity – relationship to truth, relationship to right, genuine love, loyal friendship, responsible freedom, inner relationship to human society, interior relationship to an Almighty God – are but dark secrets trapped within. Education leads what is potential within to actualization and so transforms the human being into a human human being. This is, I believe, the ultimate task of transformational education.

Where adults in the Philippines have never learned where Mindanao is in relationship to Luzon, where the United States and China are in relationship to the Philippines, how to speak and argue rationally, how to express one’s emotions and convictions other than through curse words, how to read habitually, how to navigate the world of the Internet, how to add and subtract, without dagdag-bawas, and how to be faithful to a friend, they have been deprived of a very basic form of transformational education.   Where a human being has not been transformed by education, he is at risk of being an inhuman human being.

You are aware that in the Philippines we are yet in the midst of a basic educational reform. Through the K-12 reform we have added two years of education to basic education, in order to make sure that every Filipino gets the basics of this educational transformation. Every Filipino must know the basics of reading, writing, numeracy, science, literature, natural science so that he or she can function competently and humanely in a work place or take on the challenges of higher education in college. But every Filipino is also to learn the basics of right manners and good conduct. They are to learn the basics of citizenship, but also basic to civilized society, deference to elders, respect for authority, and courtesy – even as in socialization they are introduced to friends and the joys and challenges of friendships and eventually love. Among the contemporary challenges in this context is that of the appropriate use of the Internet. The possibilities of “technology” in today’s social media should not militate against the reality of friendships and human relationships, nor even of the desideratum of experiencing the natural world.

If we are to talk of Philippine Educational Challenges towards Transformational Education on the tertiary level these are many.[1] Whereas the Philippine Constitution mandates the State to protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels” that is “accessible to all” (Art. 14. Sec 1) and that the “State shall establish, maintain and support a complete, adequate and integrated system of education relevant to the needs of the people and society” (Art. 14. Sec 2 [1]) where there is “complementarity” between public and private institutions (Art. 14. Sec 4[1]), it only provides for “free public education in the elementary and high school levels” (Art. 14. Sec 2 [2]). Recently there has been much movement in the legislature to provide Filipinos greater access tertiary education. Originally the proposals were only for free tuition in State Universities and Colleges. But through the representations of various government and non-government educational institutions like the CHED, the PASUC and the COCOPEA, the legislature has meanwhile passed a measure providing enhanced access to quality higher education. Through this law which pays attention not only to access to higher education but to its quality, there shall not only be free education in SUCs but improved access to private HEIs through appropriate funding under the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UNIFAST) law (RA 10687). The legislation is now awaiting the signature of the President.

Where the prospect of huge taxpayers’ money is to be invested in higher education, attention must necessarily be given to the quality of education. As COCOPEA has pointed out, there is yet a need to gain national consensus on what quality in higher education means. CHED’s Policy Standard to Enhance Quality Assurance (QA) in the Philippine Higher Education Through an Outcomes-Based and Typology-Based QA (CMO 46 s 2012) failed to bring about that consensus.[2] Among the outstanding issues still unresolved: Whereby the law mandates CHED to “set minimum standards for programs and institutions of higher learning” (RA 7722, Sec. 8e), CMO 46 does not distinguish between minimum standards and standards of excellence in its definition of quality (cf Sec. 6). There is a raging current controversy between HEIs and CHED’s Technical Working Groups (TWGs) who set the standards; the HEIs complain that the TWGs are over-demanding. That indeed may be true since the policy, standards and guidelines of the TWGs are formulated based on the personal insights of the academicians appointed to the TWGs mostly from elite Universities, and not based on a wide consultation of practice in the HEIs, nor based on levels 6,7, and 8 of the Philippine Qualifications Framework (PQF)[3] for tertiary education. Through the assessment-based learning outcomes, competencies and qualifications on the various levels of the PQF, the outputs of Philippine education are comparable to outputs of education in other ASEAN countries through the ASEAN Quality Reference Framework.[4] The argument between the HEIs and the TWGs points to a fundamental tension between the HEIs who are vested by the Constitution with academic freedom and the CHED who is charged by the law to regulate reasonably. The tension is exacerbated because CHED behaves like a department of education and not like a collegial body as contemplated by RA 7722 generating consensus within the Philippine Higher Education Community. In this context, the recently forged partnership between the PASUC and the COCOPEA which has resolved to work together towards improved access to quality higher education in the Philippines is a ray of hope.

In case of transformational Philippine higher education after the K-12 reform we hope eventually to have graduates who both benefit humanistically from the interdisciplinary general education requirement and who benefit personally from robust professional training.

Transformative Education in the CEAP

If education (ex ducere) generally leads the human out of the human being, Catholic education leads the Catholic out of the Catholic student. Of course, it is not education which baptizes the learner, nor education that administers the Church’s sacraments of grace. But Catholic education partners with the family and the Catholic community in drawing out of the learner the realization of the potentials of his or her being a Catholic. Recently the CEAP in partnership with Phoenix Foundation has articulated the Philippine Catholic School Standards[5] to help Catholic schools check on their own catholicity. CSCJ as a Catholic school would manifest the “defining characteristics of Catholic Schools”:

  1. Centered on the person and message of Jesus Christ.
  2. Participating in the Evangelizing Mission of the Church
  3. Animated by a Spirit of Communion
  4. Established as an Ecclesial Institution
  5. Distinguished by a Culture of Excellence
  6. Committed to Integral Human Formation
  7. Engaged in the Service of the Church and Society
  8. Promoting Dialogue on Faith and Life and Culture

So characterized, Catholic education is transformative, first, because it first transforms the members of the educational community – students, teachers, staff and administrators – into practicing Catholics, giving witness to Jesus Christ and to Catholic values as the culture and respect for life, human dignity, the family, and the common good. It is transformative, secondly, because through shared discernment and discerned action it impacts transformatively on society. In the CEAP, this transformation takes place through service or advocacy that advances its “JEEPGY” program: Justice and Peace, Engaged Citizenship, Ecological Responsibility, Poverty Alleviation, Gender Equality and Youth Empowerment. Burning issues affecting the country are covered by the program: the problems of war in Mindanao based on an ideology masquerading as religion, religious extremism, the BBL, the proposal on Federalism, the attack on religious freedom, open-pit mining, coal-fired power plants, exclusion, debilitating poverty most intense in Muslim Mindanao, the LGBT community, the alienation of youth from the cultural mainstream, esp. in Muslim Mindanao. If our schools are centered on Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ incarnates the love and compassion of the Father in our world through the Spirit, the Catholic schools do not act in an abstract neutral sphere, like the fearful apostles huddled in the upper room because they thought Jesus to be gone (cf. Acts 2:1).

Transformational Education in CSCJ

As a Catholic school, CSCJ participates in all of this. But how is Catholic transformative education further specified in the transformational education of CSCJ? What is special about CSCJ that wakes you up in the morning and makes you grateful when you go to bed? This is a question which you who preside over it, benefit from it, and keep it alive, both within the CSCJ community and beyond it, can better answer than I can. How you answer it may be based on what you experience with one another here today, the people in the community whom you admire, the students who are a special inspiration, the benefactors who are a source of unwavering support. All this may be appreciated more profoundly in the century of service that you celebrate as a community this year.

I would imagine that what distinguishes you from other Catholic schools or even just other schools is your particular mission and vision. This is not just a set of poster statements crafted for accreditors, but a declaration of identity and mission made in the Spirit of Jesus Christ and of the compassionate Father and tin the spirit  of his servants, Sts. Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac. Jesus Christ came “to bring life, life to the full” (Jn 10:10), but he also identified himself with the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the imprisoned. Jesus Christ’s person, example and words impacted transformatively on St. Vincent, whose life impacted transformatively on St. Louise. In Jesus’ spirit, both Sts. Vincent and Louise were thoroughly committed to the service of the poor, the orphans, the sick, the hospitalized, the imprisoned, the neglected (Mt. 25:31-46). In this context the vision and mission of CSCJ is articulated:

An audacious Christ-centered educational institution
committed to empowering communities of learners
into inner-directed Vincentian leaders
who are advocates of persons in poverty situations
and of God’s creation.

It is an educational institution. It is identified with drawing out of the human being what makes him a human human being.

But as an educational institution it is centered on Christ. It engages in the self-transformation and the transformation of society that is a consequence of the living relation with Jesus Christ who identified himself with the poor and came to bring life, life to the full.

But as a Catholic institution, unlike many other Catholic institutions, it declares itself to be audacious. This is a strong word. It comes from the latin audax for bold. As an adjective in this context it means: extremely bold or daring, recklessly brave, fearless; or extremely original, or recklessly bold in defiance of convention, propriety, or law.

With this audacity, against the normal conventions or expectations, as a Catholic school, it commits itself to empowering communities of learners into inner-directed Vincentian leaders.  Vincentian leadership formation is at the heart of the mission of CSCJ, and imbues all of its offerings and programs.

Vincentian leadership is based on aspects of self, mission, task, people and service.[6] Each of these aspects is associated with particular practices. We do not have time to list them all. But self sees the leader striving for excellence, honesty, integrity, inclusiveness and the ability to take criticism. Mission is the leader using creative approaches in its fulfillment, innovativeness, regarding conflicts as opportunities to grow, welcoming change, using meditation and reflection and cultivating a positive vision of the future. Task sees the Vincentian leader creating the organization(s) necessary for mission, working respectfully with people with different ideas and personalities, maintaining high ethical standards, being pragmatic, basing judgements on facts, perseverance, and leading by example. People sees the Vincentian leader practicing sound people management, setting clear and realistic goals, encouraging others to lead, and communicating to motivate people. Service sees the Vincentian leader focused on serving others, esp. the poor, working for social justice, reversing poverty, challenging injustice, and regarding leadership as a service.

Through Vincentian leadership, communities of learners at CSCJ are to be advocates of people in poverty and of God’s creation.

This lecture, which contributes to the CSCJ Centennial Leadership Lecture series, and undertook to present Philippine Education Challenges towards Transformational Education, has worked from a notion of all education being transformational, both on the level of basic education but also on the level of higher education. We looked at some of the challenges coming from the K-12 reform and some of the deserts and sinkholes in the higher educational landscape in the Philippines. But we moved from this general level to more specific level of Catholic transformative education which is based on the person and Gospel of Jesus Christ. The school transforms the community in Christ but also the society it impacts. From there we looked at what might be more specifically transformational in CSCJ. We found this in its vision and mission: in its audacity as a Christ-centered educational institution and in its commitment to inner-directed Vincentian leadership.

You have been very patient. But on this note I would like to invite you to reflection on two points:

First, since audacity is such a rare attribute in a mission-vision statement: what is the nature of your audacity as a Christ-centered educational institution? When it is much easier as an educational institution in the context of benefactors, ecclesiastical authorities, government regulators to be safe, quiet, easy-going, mediocre, how do you express your audacity? In what programs, projects, activities?  Audacious Christ-centered educational activity today is needed in Muslim Mindanao where people long deprived of good education are hungry for it. Needed is a type of audacious evangelisation that, with the Federation of Asian Bishops, evangelises in dialogue. Needed is an audacious type of work with the Muslim youth that would empower them to understand the radical challenges to a shared community in the Philippines where all human beings without exception flourish.

Related to this: what is the source of your audacity? Is it the concept of the Catholic school, its principles and standards? Or is it the recollection of the organization prowess, creativity and perseverance of St. Vincent in dealing with the poor? Or is in in the recollection of the compassion of St. Louise? Or does audacity have something to do with encountering an audacious Jesus saying, “Begone, Satan!…” (Mt. 4:10), or angrily overturning the tables of the money changers in the temple (Mt. 21:11-13), or saying, “Not my will, Thine be done?” (Lk 22:42).

Second, when one reads of Vincentian leadership, it is very ideal. The descriptors are apodictic. But the road from the ideal to the real is often a slippery slope. Should one slip and fall, we end up with but words, words, words. It would seem to me very necessary for CSCJ to share not only its mission to Vincentian leadership but its roadmap to inner-direct Vincentian leadership, which would then be a source of abiding consolation and joy. St. Vincent was converted to his life of service to the poor through a deep experience of the poor. In this manner, his leadership became inner-directed and interiorly joyful. How is it done at CSCJ?

For the audacity with which CSCJ has conducted itself as a Catholic school and for the inner-directed Vincentian leaders it has formed in genuine transformational education over an entire century, we are deeply grateful to the Vincentians, the Daughters of Charity, the men and the women who have run the race and have kept the faith unto God’s glory!

 


[1] I recently outlined some of these problems under the rubric of quality tertiary education in the Philippines: https://taborasj.wordpress.com/2017/07/25/quality-tertiary-education/

[2] Cf: CEAP and Ateneo de Davao University: Disqualifying CHED’s Quality Assurance: A Collection of Critical Positions on CHED M.O.no. 46. S 2012 (Davao: ADDU Publications Office, 2012)

[3] Cf: http://www.tesda.gov.ph/uploads/File/policybrief2013/PB%20Philippine%20Qualification%20Framework.pdf

[4] For more on the AQRF, cf: http://asean.org/asean-economic-community/sectoral-bodies-under-the-purview-of-aem/services/asean-qualifications-reference-framework/ Also the powerpoint of Prof. Ma. Cynthia Bautista: http://www.share-asean.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/SHARE-01_AQRF-and-CQF_Prof-Dr-Cynthia-Bautista.pdf

[5] CEAP and PPH Foundation, Philippine Catholic School Standards for Basic Education (Quezon City, Phoenix, 2016).

[6] On the Vincentian Leadership Model: https://resources.depaul.edu/vincent-on-leadership/training/model/Pages/default.aspx. Also http://www.vincentonleadership.org/vincent-de-paul-2/

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