A “Congressional Oversight Committee on Education To Review and Assess Philippine Education, Providing Funds Therefore and For Other Purposes,” was approved yesterday. The Joint Resolution creating this had been sponsored by Representaives Salvador H. Escudero III and Juan Edgardo M. Angara. CEAP was represented at the Joint Hearing by Executive Director Rhodora Ferrer and Nikko Mercader.
I welcome the creation of this Oversight Committee. But I have some concerns.
The Oversight Committee will be composed of five members of the House of Representatives and of five members of the Senate, designated by the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate respectively. They will represent Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao.
It will “undertake a national review, assessment and evaluation of the performance of the bodies created to take care of the basic education, high education and manpower development of the country” as well as of other related bodies.
“The review, evaluation and assessment shall be made in order to determine (a) observance of the mandates of the respective laws that created the three education and manpower development bodies; (b) the reasons for the gaps in the implement of the [Congressional Committee on Educations] EDCOM recommendations and its impact on the performance of the education and training sector for the past 15 years; (c) measures to enable and empower the education and manpower institutions to critically examine and improve performance in the light of globalization and competitiveness, poverty alleviation, sustainable development and overall human developmental goals of the country; (d) the best teaching, learning, and administrative practices of various national and foreign educational institutions that can be adopted across the curriculum and across the system; and (e) additional legislation, if needed to further the goals of EDCOM.”
Among the reasons warranting the creation of the Oversight Committee was the fact that many of the recommendations EDCOM had not been acted upon, including:
“…the creation or institutionalization of a permanent National Coordinating Council for Education (NCCE) that would coordinate and harmonize the policies and programs of the three education agencies and dovetail them to national development plans.”
Concern for the following conditions:
“— our net enrollment ration for elementary was 85.12% in 2008, a net retrogression in accomplishment because we had it nearly universal at 99.1% in 1990;
“— in 2008, nealy a quarter of those entering school dropped out before grade 5;
“— in 2008 the number of out-of-school children aged 6 – 11 broke through the one-million mark, there we over 100,000 more children out of school than in 1999;
“—the basic education system suffers from chronic shortages of teachers and classrooms, increasing class sized and low levels of learning achievements; and
“—the underperformance of higher education institutions in producing quality teachers is still evident in the results of the Professional Regulations Committee (PRC) examinations.”
“the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority has failed to implement the provisions of the law which created it, particularly the devolution of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) to local governments and industry and the transformation of TESDA from providing TVET to monitoring, evaluation, regulation, planning and financing.
“the number of SUCs and LUCs has increased significantly since 1992, leading to duplication of degree offerings with consequent decrease in the provision of faculty and physical facilities requirements…”
I wish the Oversight Committee well. In CEAP, the lack of coordination between DepED, CHED and TESDA, and the inability of government to address this lack of coordination, led the CEAP to resolve that the trifocalized system be re-integrated into one department of education, which would again put all educational concerns “under one roof” of one house, with one clear representative in the Cabinet. But the hugeness of the concerns and activities of each of these three educational systems defied even trying to conceive the re-integration. The hope was then placed in the eventual creation of some form of Coordinating Body. Unfortunately, the Arroyo’s Presidential Task Force on Education, despite its lofty mandates, did not achieve this coordination. Hopefully, there will be more success with the National Coordinating Council for Education.
Our fervent hope, of course, is that all this results in more coordination and focused, long-term, reliable policy formulation for education, rather than in less coordination and erratic, whimsical, short term and politically-motivated legislation. We are not into education just to provide jobs for the globe as the whimsical markets of the globe demand. We are into education because human beings need to be educated to be human and to be productive. We are into education because we want Filipinos/as not only to be cogs in production machines but also humane, competent, and morally sensitive leaders in production and innovation in a demanding world.
Also, even while this Oversight Committee is committed to improving national educational output, Congress must also be conscious that it can easily be part of the problem rather than part of the solution. One of the real banes for higher education is that while CHED should be overseeing curriculum, it is undermined by legislation for professions which determines and fixes curriculum requirement into change-resistant law. Since curriculum has to be responsive to needs, the responsiveness is insured in a sensitive and cautiously-flexible CHED, not in change-resistant laws. I hope an Oversight Committee like this does not feel it needs to legislate curricula. This Committee would need to oversee the bigger picture – the challenge to coordination of among the largest
Finally, pragmatically, I hope we can focus on agreeing early on an educational reform package like K+12. My fear is that the reviews and re-studies may keep us just on the plane of theory and debating about theories. Here, we might miss getting something done.