Fr. Joel Tabora, S.J., Chair, COCOPEA
First, in the name of the Ateneo de Davao University, but more so in the name of the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA), it is my privilege to welcome you to this 2nd Round of PASUC-COCOPEA Conversations on the Complementarity between Public and Private HEIs.
We are moved by the constitutional mandate that “The State shall protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels and shall take appropriate steps to make such education accessible to all.” (XIV. Sec 1).
We note the words: “the right of all citizens,” not just the privilege of the monied; “to quality education,” not just education; “at all levels” not just basic education.
We are moved by a further constitutional mandate, namely: “The State shall establish, maintain, and support a complete, adequate and integrated system of education relevant to the needs of peoples and society.
We note the word, system, meaning not just disassociated, siloed parts – the state universities and colleges working on their own programs, and the private HEIs working on theirs; or state universities competing dysfunctionally against other state universities or private universities doing the same. A system is where the parts are dependent on the functioning of the whole and the whole dependent on the functioning of the parts, and the parts function together advance the common good: the system of Philippine education.
In this system we are further moved by the constitutional declaration, “The state recognizes the complementary roles of public and private institutions in the educational system” (Art. XIV, Sec. 4 (1).
This means: not only private HEIs, but State Universities and Colleges. This means structures and practices of finance that advance the system of Philippine education through the complementation of public and private HEIs, that optimize the quality output of this system based on the cooperation, mutual advancement, and quality assurance mechanisms between public and private HEIs demanded by this system.
Considering a system of education where public and private cooperate and collaborate in complementarity, we therefore envision:
Not just education, but quality education.
Not just access to education, but access to quality education
Not just education on some levels, but on all levels
Not just academic but vocational-technical higher education.
Not just dissociated parts, but a whole.
That is the “complete integrated and adequate system of Philippine education” envisaged by the Constitution.
Moved in this manner we come together in the academic freedom and responsibility that the Constitution vests in our higher educational institutions (Art XIV, Sec 5 ) to explore how together we might improve the output of Philippine Higher Education. We have already begun doing that in our first round of conversations. We appreciated how free tuition for higher education must support not only access but quality, how quality is improved not by increasing access thoughtlessly but by improving instruction and facilities. We began talking about how public and private schools might play complementary roles in segmented markets, about how scholarships can go not only to quality public schools but also to quality private schools. We began talking about higher educational atmosphere of all higher educational institutions and about higher academic education must be complemented by higher technical education. We come together to continue this conversation.
In the end, we must work together to achieve what the Constitution mandates: “All educational institutions shall inculcate patriotism and nationalism, foster love of humanity, respect for human rights, appreciation of the role of national heroes in the historical development of the country, teach the rights and duties of citizenship, strengthen ethical and spiritual values, develop moral character and personal discipline, encourage critical and creative thinking, broaden scientific and technological knowledge and promote vocational efficiency” (Art XIV, Sec 3 ).
Under the Duterte administration this is envisaged as “Ambisyon Natin 2040”. It is a simple vision: a vision of a Philippine society after one generation blessed by social justice, where there is no scandalous opulence and no destitution, but where all live comfortably together in real (not virtual, not cyber) family life enjoying the cultural diversity that profoundly enriches Philippine society. If that vision speaks to you as it certainly speaks to me, as educators in the Philippines – whether we be involved in public or private schools – we have a tremendous role to play. We have the next generation in our classrooms. We must work together not only to keep our students away from drugs but to focus them on the challenges of humane and professional development towards achieving the common good articulated in Ambisyon 2040. We must work together to form our students on the radical path of peace based righting historical wrongs and achieving genuine social justice.
In this spirit, I thank you all for coming. May we have a fruitful conversation.