Yesterday was Holy Innocents’ Day.
Yesterday, I tweeted, “PAASCU refuses two-million-peso offer from CHED to re-align its accreditation instruments according to CMO 46 s. ’12.”
My friend, Isagani Cruz, the distinguished educator, tweeted in response: “This is not a Holy Innocents Day joke, is it?”
I assured him it was not.
Soon after Christmas, after Chairman Patricia Licuanan thought that she had shut down discussion on Outcomes- and Typology-based Quality Assurance presumably with the CHED en banc approval of CMO 46, s. 2012 (“presumably” because the uploaded version only carries the signature of Chairperson Licuanan), PAASCU received a an original copy of a Memorandum of Agreement already signed by Atty. Julito D. Vitriolo, Executive Director of CHED, and Patricia Licuanan, Chairperson, CHED, with an urgent message that the Executive Director of PAASCU and I as the PAASCU President sign it immediately.
I refuse to sign it.
In short, the MoA reads: “….WHEREAS, CHED wish (sic) to provide incentives and support to accreditation bodies in their effort to shift to outcomes-based evaluation and the harmonization of their criteria…
“NOW THEREFORE for and in consideration of the foregoing premises, the parties hereto hereby agree as follows:
1. CHED shall (1.1) provide funding assistance to PAASCU amounting to Two Million Pesos to revise their instruments for program and institutional accreditation in line with outcome-based quality assurance and harmonize their criteria and measures with those of the other accreditation agencies.
2. PAASCU shall (2.1) Utilize the finds provided by CHED for the purpose indicated in Sec. 1 item 1.1 [as quoted in the previous paragraph] subject to the usual accounting and auditing rules and regulations. (2.2) Submit accreditation instruments to CHED.”
Last Nov. 23, 2012, the General Assembly of PAASCU formally requested CHED to postpone its approval of Outcomes-Based and Typology-Based Quality Assurance. On the one hand, this was because the PAASCU members wish to focus their energies on the implementation of K-12. On the other hand, it was because it continued to see serious flaws in the proposed QA program.
CHED’s response was first to approve CMO 46, 2012 on December 11, 2012, then to write me a letter purporting to explain why its approval cannot be postponed. Its “reasoning” is for the books: “CHED is forced by many imperatives to pursue an iterative reform process that begins with an imperfect plan. Such imperfection may lead to errors but correcting them might also lead serendipitously to unanticipated solutions that would not have been discovered had the mistakes not been made” (Letter of Licuanan to Tabora, 12 December 2012).
PAASCU knows however that such “imperfections” may lead to irreparable damage. Many hard won gains grown over the years can be lost to poor policy powerfully enforced. It is disappointed that CHED, serving higher education, chose not to continue discussion of the imperfect plan to further perfect it to the satisfaction of all serious stakeholders, but instead chose to approve it with in its admitted imperfection – and now mystifies it with an appeal to serendipity.
The proposed MoA that CHED sent PAASCU is on the mistaken presumption (in legalese, on the mistaken WHEREAS) that PAASCU wishes to shift to “outcomes based evaluation…” In Dr. Licuanan’s letter to me, she states that PAASCU had informed her in a meeting of October 12 that PAASCU, along with all the accrediting organizations, had informed CHED that it was “making the shift” to outcomes-based accreditation. This is not true. At that meeting, I expressly reiterated my request as PAASCU President that the approval of the program be postponed. PAASCU has continued to assert that outcomes-based quality assurance is untenable. Its objections have never been satisfactorily answered.
With the approval of CMO 46, s. 2012, CHED has closed its eyes to the imperfections of outcomes-based quality assurance. After all, with the invisible hand of Serendipity, all will turn out for the better, it “thinks.” Meanwhile, CHED has approved a government regulatory program of outcomes- and typology based quality assurance on higher education that seriously offends against academic freedom.
For 55 years, PAASCU has served quality assurance through accreditation through systems and instruments proven to be of educational value. The dedicated work of the distinguished educators who make PAASCU effective has always been voluntary. Were PAASCU convinced it needs to change its instruments of evaluation to outcomes-based accreditation, it would do so voluntarily. Its incentive would be the service of education in the Philippines. Not “Two Million Pesos.”
CHED’s proposal is not a joke. Neither is it innocent. It wants everyone to tow the line. Even if it is crooked.