[President’s Report to the General Assembly of the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities, Finster Hall, ADDU, Feb 12, 2016]
PAASCU commences its 60th year in a period of great transition.
Towards Quality Senior High Schools
For the first time, senior high school becomes mandatory in the Philippines. That affects all our schools. We may have once thought adding two years to basic education to decongest its curriculum would be a rather straightforward task. But we have since learned otherwise. Adding two years to basic education invited colleges to push back subjects they felt belonged to basic education. What was decongested became recongested. We may have once thought we would be preparing senior high school students for either the workforce or college. We now understand we are preparing them all for college but also to be “hirable” – especially if they get TESDA Certificates of Competencies and National Certificates – or even to become entrepreneurs.
Senior high school involves four tracks, the academic, technical, sports and the arts/design. The Core Curriclum is for all the tracks. But under certain tracks there are specializations or strands. For instance, under the academic track there is the general academics track (GA), the humanities and social sciences (HUMSS), the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and the accountancy, business and management (ABM).
We have all struggled to understand what all this means based on the many DepEd issuances that have appeared, but also based on our realities on the ground. We have read, studied, deliberated, consulted. We have gone through periods of confusion, disorientation, fear, then sometimes moments of insight, understanding, and hope. Despite persisting uncertainty, yet appreciating probablities, and trusting in God and one another, we have made our decisions, some of them big and nervewracking – to open or not to open senior high school, to enter this or that track, to offer this or that specialization, to set this larger or that lower target, to hire or to fire faculty, staff or administrators, to build, to renovate or to innovate. It is at the threshold of this great transition in the same year that PAASCU commences its 60th year of operation that we come together still alive, still smiling – knowing that in this implementation we are not alone, that through PAASCU we shall help one another to weather the storms, and that through PAASCU we can hope that in time all our senior high schools will thrive as quality schools through our system of voluntary accreditation.
Towards Quality Higher Education
As our elementary schools and basic education schools, we know, are quality schools!
And as we continue to journey together towards higher quality in our colleges and universities. As the Philippines transitions in political leadership this coming May, through discussions in the Coordinating Council for Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA) we hope to come to consensus on a Philippine Roadmap for Higher Education where the ultimate goal of our shared journey would be: a “complete, adequate and integrated system of quality higher education” for ALL in the Philippines composed of public (SUCs, LCUs, academic and technical) and private HEIs (sectarian and non-sectarian, public and private) working in necessary and achieved complementarity in the pursuit and communication of truth in academic freedom through instruction and formation, research and outreach (service to the community), where this system is governed autonomously (free from ephemeral [party] political interference, the control of stakeholder interests, the control of the economic elite) and supported appropriately by public funds and reasonable government regulation.
There are many stimulating talking points pertinent to this roadmap concerning academic freedom, quality education, the essential complementarity between public and private education, the healthy governance of HEIs based on autonomous self-governance and supported by public funds, and even personal development, social justice and the common good.
As PAASCU commences its 60th year of operation, allow me to cite the pertinent talking points on quality education:
We must engage in a national dialogue towards achieving consensus on “quality” in higher education. We advocate: minimum standards, academic excellence, implementation of HEIs’ Vision and mission, and responsiveness to our stakeholders.
Academic freedom without quality assurance is reckless; quality assurance without academic freedom is empty.
Quality assurance must be equally applicable to private and public HEIs, including technical HEIs.
Private (non-government controlled) external quality assurance bodies are necessary for quality assurance.
The role of stakeholder demands in HE programs must be clarified. (i.e. stakeholders must benefit, but educators must educate.)
We are suggesting that those who aspire to political positions in our local and national governments, in their councils, the congress and the senate, take position relative to these talking points. But perhaps we too may have to ask ourselves how we stand relative to yet unresolved issues in our policy environment pertinent to academic freedom, quality assurance, “quality”, governance, public funding not only of public schools but also of private schools, the importance pf public private partnerships for the future of quality education in the Philippines. Academic freedom and all it entails is not vested in the CHED; it is vested in the HEIs. In freedom, we must govern ourselves wisely, using voluntary accreditation as the guarantee of our program and institutional quality.
In this context (as your handouts will show) PAASCU has continued its labors for quality education through accreditation. In the last year, it visited 45 basic education schools and 95 HEIs, and has processed 45 programs in basic education and 271 programs on the tertiary and graduate education levels, plus five basic medical education programs.
It has conducted training workshops for medical-education accreditors, for team chairs, and for tertiary accreditors (PWU and Benilde in Manila, ADDU and UIC in Davao). With the Philippine Medical College Foundation (APMC), it gave an orientation meeting on quality assurance for Philippine Medical Colleges. 64 participants representing 38 medical schools throughout the country came, establishing the unique national strength of PAASCU medical school accreditation with international recognition.
Also in your handouts you will find an update on our complaint against Dr. Patricia Licuanan and Leo Querubin filed with the Ombudsman through our lawyers led by Atty Joseph Estrada in defence of the interests of PAASCU. The case is now submitted for resolution.
Towards International Recognition and Global Reach
As it commences its 60th year, PAASCU continues to contribute to and benefit from its international relations.
***Two quality assurance officers from PAASCU-accredited institutions were chosen to participate in the regional training course on internal quality assurance (IQA) coordinated by the Centre for Quality Development of the University of Potsdam. Ms. Lucila Calairo of De La Salle University-Dasmariñas and Dr. Julita Robles of De La Salle University-Manila participated in the TrainIQA Project which supports a group of 32 Southeast Asian universities to build up systematic quality assurance structures and to promote quality culture within their own organisations.
Closely mentored by the European and ASEAN quality assurance experts, they are engaged in an online learning platform and face-to-face workshops with 30 other QA officers from ASEAN Member States.
***Concepcion V. Pijano, PAASCU Executive Director is part of the ASEAN technicsl team of experts who provide inputs and advice to the participants. The project was launched in November 2014 with the ASEAN-QA High Level Information Visit held in Potsdam, Germany. The first TrainIQA [Train Internal Quality Assurance] workshop took place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from February 23-27, 2015. The Final Conference for the project will be held from February 23-27, 2016.
The TrainIQA Program is supported by the German Rectors’ Conference, ASEAN Quality Assurance Network, ASEAN University Network, SEAMEO-RIHED, German Academic Exchange Service and the European Network for Quality Assurance in order to promote regional quality assurance in Southeast Asia.
***The project “European Union Support to Higher Education in ASEAN Region” (SHARE) is a joint initiative of the European Union (EU) and the ASEAN. Its overarching objective is to strengthen regional cooperation and to enhance the quality, competitiveness and internationalisation of ASEAN higher education institutions and degrees At the core of this action is the aim to enhance cooperation between the EU and the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and to create lasting benefits from the harmonisation of higher education across ASEAN.
In order to achieve its strategic goals, two expert working groups were created, namely the “ASEAN-European Expert Group of Qualifications Framework (QF)” and the “ASEAN-European Expert Group of Quality Assurance (QA)”. The PAASCU Executive director is one of the member experts of the latter tasked with reviewing the current QA framework in ASEAN and providing stimuli for updating it. (Imagine what will happen to CMO 46!).
***Finally, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) is the largest institutional higher education membership organisation in the US. It is the most influentual voice for promoting academic quality through accreditation. It has an international division, “the CHEA International Quality Group (CIQG) focusing on international Quality Assurance. PAASCU has been a member of the CIQG since Dec. 2012, contributing to its thought leadership in internationa QA issues and policies and convening acdemicians and others on issues international quality assurance. Last November 2015, PAASCU’s Executive Director was invited to serve on the CIGQ Advisory Council. During the CHEA 2016 Annual Conference held on Jan. 25-27, 2016 in Washington DC, the PAASCU Executive Director spoke on the CIQG International Quslity Principles and how these influence the intgernational dialogue about acaademic Quality. She is the lone representative from ASEAN and one among three representatives from the Asia Pacific Region which includes Australia and China.
As PAASCU commences its 60th year, in the midst of the confusing challenges of the K-12 implementation, in the midst of the national search for a Philippine President and for national leaders that understand the challenges and nuances of education, especially higher education, in the midst of a world that cries out for change leaders blessed with quality education, I am happy to report to you that through your hard work at quality improvement of your schools through accreditation, PAASCU is healthy and well. From the original 11 members, it now has 505. From the original coverage of just Metro Manila and Cebu, it has gone not only national but global. With over a thousand volunteer accreditors, it continues to promote quality assurance through accreditation not only in the Philippines but now literally throughout the world. There is no other accreditation group in the Philippines that enjoys its international recognition. This means that once accredited by a PAASCU the quality of your school is recognized thoughout the globe. Thank you all for being part of PAASCU. Thank you members of the Board and the various commissions, present and past, for being part of PAASCU. Thank you Fr. Jim Meany SJ and Bro. H. Gabriel Connon, FSC. Thank you, Chita. You are its strength. You are PAASCU!