CHED’s “Briefer on CMO 46…”

[I am reproducing here CHED’s most recent “Briefer on CMO 46.” It will be considered in further discussions of this contentious CHED Memorandum Order approved on Dec. 10, 2012]




Why Issue a CMO on Quality Assurance (QA) at the Same Time as Other Major Education Reforms like K to 12?
1. To get HEIs to contribute more vigorously to national development
a. In a globalized world environment, higher education has the valuable role of producing competent graduates to boost national and regional economies.
b. The contribution of research to technological innovations has been proven to be indispensable in the bid for global competitiveness of nations.

2. To regain the Philippines’ competitive advantage in Asia or close the competitiveness gap
a. From a center of graduate education in Asia during the postwar years up to the 1970s, the Philippines slid down in the last three decades. This became more apparent as neighboring countries enhanced the quality and competitiveness of their respective higher education sectors.
b. For 2012-2013, the Philippines lagged behind China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam on almost all of the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Indicators for technological innovativeness (including the quality of scientific output).
c. At about the same time, the British Council-funded conference on International Research Collaboration showed the Philippines in the second tier of ASEAN countries in terms of varied research outputs behind Indonesia and Vietnam and with a more or less flat slope compared to the other two. The first tier consists of Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

3. To adopt approaches that will resonate with national needs and international practice
a. Although some of the country’s higher education programs such as engineering and maritime education have adopted international competency-based standards, most of our higher education programs are not yet based on learning competencies (as desired outcomes). This is not to say that there is a one size-fits-all competency standard regardless of disciplines and branches of knowledge. It only means different epistemic communities ought to determine learning competencies in their fields.
b. A learner-centered, competency-based, and, if applicable, industry-linked education, is deemed necessary to produce Filipino graduates who will not only meet the competencies demanded by employers in this century but also those needed to move Filipinos out of poverty and address the country’s persistent local and national problems.

4. To remain in step with the ASEAN in adopting and substantiating a National Qualifications framework.
a. The Philippines is among the last countries in the ASEAN region to adopt and substantiate a National Qualifications Framework that specifies the competencies needed to work, learn and cope in the rapidly changing world of the 21st century— where 60% of the jobs in the next 20 years, are still unknown.
b. Contrary to the common notion of competencies as technical skills, in contemporary discourse they include thinking, behavioral, technical and attitudinal skills.

5. To enhance the competitiveness of Filipino graduates, reduce their vulnerability to sub-optimal working conditions within and outside the country, and help the Philippines catch up with its neighbors
a. Given the country’s track record on overseas employment, many Filipino graduates will probably take advantage of the labor mobility offered by the ASEAN Economic Community after December 2015. By then, conventions governing the recognition of degrees, diplomas etc., such as the Tokyo Convention of 2011 will be institutionalized. As of this time, the setting up of mechanisms to ensure the quality and comparability of programs across Asia and the Pacific is the subject of official and ministerial meetings under the auspices of international bodies such as the APEC, UNESCO, ASEAN and ASEM.
b. At the moment, the so-called “substantive difference” or the lack of two years of basic education or pre-professional training has made Filipino graduates working in Asia vulnerable to low pay and to less than optimal working conditions. The additional two years in K to 12 have to be complemented with honed competencies that are comparable to those of graduates in other ASEAN countries, so that our graduates can rightly compete with their high quality of mind and superior work ethic.
c. CHED’s five major key reform areas include the setting of quality standards and quality assurance within the framework of lifelong learning, including a shift to a learner-centered paradigm that aims to enhance the development of thinking, behavioral and technical competencies.
d. Enhancing the competencies of Filipino graduates is a challenge in the Philippines where about 1800 higher education institutions (HEIs) of extremely uneven quality exist. For this reason, ensuring that quality systems are in place in a critical mass of these HEIs is the duty of CHED at this juncture in the country’s educational history.

Is QA-Related Reform Within the Mandate of CHED?
RA 7722 gives CHED the authority to monitor, supervise and regulate all tertiary programs and higher education institutions in the country. Its power to formulate and implement standard-setting policies such as the Outcomes- and typology-based QA in CMO 46 is embodied in Section 8 of the law which mandates CHED to:
1. Formulate and recommend development plans, policies, priorities, and programs on higher education and research;
2. Formulate and recommend development plans, policies, priorities and programs on research;
3. Recommend to the executive and legislative branches, priorities and grants on higher education and research;
4. Set minimum standards for programs and institutions of higher learning
recommended by panels of experts in the field and subject to public hearing, and
enforce the same;
5. Monitor and evaluate the performance of programs and institutions of higher learning
for appropriate incentives as well as the imposition of sanctions such as, but not
limited to, diminution or withdrawal of subsidy, recommendation on the downgrading
or withdrawal of accreditation, program termination or school closure;
6. Identify, support and develop potential centers of excellence in program areas needed
for the development of world-class scholarship, nation building and national
7. Recommend to the Department of Budget and Management the budgets of public institutions of higher learning as well as general guidelines for the use of their income;
8. and set standards, policies and guidelines for the creation of new ones as well as the conversion or elevation of schools to institutions of higher learning, subject to budgetary limitations and the number of institutions of higher learning in the province or region where creation, conversion or elevation is sought to be made;
9. Develop criteria for allocating additional resources such as research and program development grants, scholarships, and other similar programs: Provided, That these shall not detract from the fiscal autonomy already enjoyed by colleges and universities;
10. Direct or redirect purposive research by institutions of higher learning to meet the needs of agro-industrialization and development;
11. Devise and implement resource development schemes;
12. Administer the Higher Education Development Fund, as described in Section 10 hereunder, which will promote the purposes of higher education;
13. Review the charters of institutions of higher learning and state universities and colleges including the chairmanship and membership of their governing bodies and recommend appropriate measures as basis for necessary action;
14. Promulgate such rules and regulations and exercise such other powers and functions as may be necessary to carry out effectively the purpose and objectives of this Act; and
15. *Perform such other functions as may be necessary for its effective operations
and for the continued enhancement, growth or development of higher education.*
[*Bold type in original CHED document.]

What Process did CHED Follow in Approving CMO 46?
1. In December 2010, CHED constituted a Task Force on Quality Assurance (TFQA)1 with the following mandate:
Rationalize programs and institutions of higher learning
a. To review the existing quality assurance processes and procedures of CHED;
b. To formulate recommendations towards the
Rationalization of QA processes and their alignment with other CHED development initiatives; Harmonization of monitoring and evaluation processes and tools for both institutions and programs;
Harmonization of policy instruments and the development of appropriate incentive/grant schemes; and Management strategies for transitioning to the proposed quality assurance (QA) system.

2. The TFQA submitted its recommendations to three rounds of consultations prior to the issuance of the draft CMO 46, revising its recommendations significantly after each consultation.
a. By the third zonal consultation, some agreement was reached, with representatives of groups that were very critical of the initial recommendations expressing their appreciation of the TFQA’s revisions.
b. A public hearing subsequently was held on the finalized draft CMO. Except for the Mindanao zonal consultation held in Davao—which called for a postponement of the implementation of the CMO until K to 12 stabilizes—the other zonal public hearings concluded with the acceptance of the CMO but with the caveat that the implementing guidelines will be subjected to close scrutiny since “the devil may be in the details”.
c. In response to the public hearings, the TFQA explained that the Philippines could no longer afford to postpone QA reforms to 2020 or thereabouts when K to 12 is expected to stabilize. Accordingly, doing so would negate the positive effect of K-12 on the employment of our graduates in the AEAN Economic Community, among other adverse impacts.
d. As to the implementing guidelines, the TFQA sought permission from CHED to revise its usual process by conducting a consultation on the implementing guidelines prior to the approval of the CMO. Only after this consultation—on 27 November 2012—did the CHED Commission en Banc approve CMO 46—with its appended implementing Guidelines (See Annex A for the list of consultations and public hearings).

3. CHED will be conducting zonal public orientations on CMO 46 in March 2013 to reiterate the spirit of the reform and to clarify misinterpretations and misconceptions.

1. Shift to an Outcomes-Based Quality Assurance
a. Why do it?
i. To make Filipino graduates productive and competitive, especially in the context of ASEAN 2015 and the globalization of professional practice.
ii. To develop citizens who can engage meaningfully in their communities and in building the nation

b. What does it mean for HEIs?
i. The roles of the HEI (instruction, research, and outreach) are expressed in terms of outcomes, and the extent and manner of conducting them depends on the identity and purpose of the HEI.
ii. Educational goals are articulated in terms of learning outcomes; inputs are tools/vehicles or part of strategies to reach the goals.
iii. The focus of education shifts from what the teacher or expert gives to the learning and competencies that the student acquires/ develops.
iv. One challenge is to develop relevant curriculum, instruction and assessment tools that address the need to demonstrate the achievement of outcomes.
v. Another is to develop Quality Assurance systems, i.e., mechanisms, procedures and processes to ensure the delivery of the desired quality.
vi. Enhance the relevance of their programs through dialogue with industry and other sectors regarding desired learning outcomes.

c. WhatdoesitmeanforCHED?
i. CHED can give direction and support so that HEIs can move in this direction; as stated in Sec. 8 of RA 7722, CHED can perform functions “for the continued enhancement, growth or development of higher education”.
ii. Technical panels and technical committees have to assist CHED in articulating the desired learning outcomes for various programs in close consultation with higher education stakeholders (e.g. professional associations, industry, parents, higher education associations).

2. Adopt a Horizontal Typology of HEIs
a. Why do it?
i. To help HEIs be more efficient by focusing on their mission; the triple role of HEIs (instruction, teaching, outreach) can still be achieved but the extent and manner to which it is done depends on the mission of the HEI
ii. To recognize the differences in the roles of professional institutions, universities, and colleges in nation-building and for CHED to be able to deploy its assistance to schools in a more rational, if not optimal, manner.

b. What does it mean for HEIs?
i. HEIs can articulate their vision/mission/goals and use these to guide their strategic plans and execution; these will be the basis of their horizontal type, should they wish to be typed. The process is voluntary and the HEI can choose their desired type; CHED will not impose the type.
ii. HEIs will be assessed according to the standards of the type they chose.
iii. HEIs can be Autonomous or Deregulated or have COEs/CODs without having to be universities (e.g., as Professional Institutions or Colleges) but gives room for
future reclassification. iv. HEIs have until 2014 to meet the standards for horizontal typology.

c. WhatdoesitmeanforCHED?
i. CHED has to prepare its staff and its systems for the evaluation of HEIs who submit themselves as professional institutions, universities, and colleges.
ii. Technical panels and technical committees have to assist CHED in defining which aspects of programs, COEs and CODs will be common or particular to HEI types.

3. Adopt a Vertical Typology within Each Type
a. Why do it?
i. To recognize quality HEIs among those with similar mission, while doing away with a one-size-fits-all model of quality
ii. To promote quality in HEIs, in order to make them more relevant and competitive in the Asian region or in the world
iii. To develop a culture of quality in HEIs by promoting QA systems

b. What does it mean for HEIs?
i. HEIs can enjoy support and recognition as Autonomous or Deregulated HEIs, or through their COEs and CODs, whether they are Professional Institutions, Universities, or Colleges.
ii. HEIs have until 2014 to meet the standards for vertical classification.
c. WhatitmeanforCHED?
i. CHED has to prepare its staff and its systems for the evaluation of HEIs who submit themselves for vertical classification as professional institutions, universities, and colleges.
ii. CHED could partner with accrediting agencies, if they agree to align instruments in order to facilitate institutional sustainability assessment.

d. What does it mean for Accrediting Agencies?
i. The vertical classification promotes accreditation in that higher scores will be attained by HEIs with higher proportion of accredited programs.
ii. The vertical classification promotes institutional accreditation or institutional sustainability assessment by type. This is an area of growth for accrediting agencies because they can help HEIs in developing institutional sustainability at all levels, in contrast to current practice of doing it for those with high levels of program accreditation.

Who will benefit from the thrust toward Quality and Quality Assurance?
1. Philippine higher education
a. Credibility in the international arena – The better but less-known schools do not have
to be lumped by other countries into the same group as low-quality institutions.
b. Mobility of our students and graduates

2. All HEIs a. Competitive advantage – Quality HEIs have better chances of survival in an
increasingly competitive world b. Self-improvement – The presence of QA systems could help improve HEIs achieve their goals better and faster.

3. Students/graduates
a. Productive careers – True quality education should give graduates a better chance to
develop careers in their field of choice.
b. “Life-readiness” – Good education can develop not only competencies for careers, but
also life skills and values.

4. Industry/Institutions
a. Strong human resources – Quality education can arm institutions and industry with
competent lifelong-learners, which could then translate to improved performance. b. Competitive advantage – With excellent employees, industry and institutions can be more competitive because of R&D, innovations, and good management and

Who will benefit from the horizontal and vertical typologies?
1. Most HEIs, but especially the smaller but focused HEIs a. Improved efficiency – e.g., resources can go into faculty development or facilities
improvement, instead of creating cosmetic research offices b. Recognition and support – Even as colleges and professional institutions, they can
enjoy Autonomy (by Evaluation) or Deregulated status; they can also compete for COEs and CODs.
2. Students/parents a. Improved basis for making choices – Because of the focus of HEIs, students/parents and the general public will better know the thrust of these HEIs.

About Joel Tabora, S.J.

Jesuit. Educator
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9 Responses to CHED’s “Briefer on CMO 46…”

  1. lydiagoingo says:

    2014 is but a breath away, i wonder how many institutions will meet the requiremnets of both horizontal and vertical typologies! how many universities would deserve to be classified as such and how many deregulated and autonomous HEIs would be able to retain the status considering the more stringent standards.

  2. What strike me in the briefer is the following statement: “A learner-centered, competency-based, and, if applicable, industry-linked education, is deemed necessary to produce Filipino graduates who will not only meet the competencies demanded by employers in this century but also those needed to move Filipinos out of poverty and address the country’s persistent local and national problems.”

    We need to address this issue. Most of our schools, colleges and universities are input and theory- based in which it will not be necessarily producing competent graduates.

    The most important characteristic of competency-based education is that it measures learning rather than time. Students progress by demonstrating their competence, which means they prove that they have mastered the knowledge and skills (called competencies) required for a particular course, regardless of how long it takes. While more traditional models can and often do measure competency, they are time-based — courses last about four months, and students may advance only after they have put in the seat time. This is true even if they could have completed the coursework and passed the final exam in half the time. So, while most colleges and universities hold time requirements constant and let learning vary, competency-based learning allows us to hold learning constant and let time vary. Ref.

  3. In my opinion, the focus of education today has shifted from the teacher to learner. But this shift requires change within the educational system in order to facilitate learning.

    Establishing an OBE system in colleges and universities is one of the best ways for the learners to reach the desired outcomes. OBE also demands a commitment to continuing professional development and lifelong learning.

    Maybe it is difficult to shift, but if there is a will, there is a way.


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