Looking Back in Order to Look Forward

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[Opening Remarks: 4th PASUC-COCOPEA Conversations, Hotel Benilde, July 23, 2018]

I have been asked to look back in order to look forward.

As COCOPEA opposed Free Tuition in Higher Education, we were pleasantly surprised to learn the PASUC also opposed it.

In its own desire to deliver QUALITY education to its students, it did not want to be overwhelmed by students, possibly unqualified students, flooding its SUCs because of free tuition.

This was also the position of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

Dr. Ric Rotoras had actually written a paper on the complementarity between Public and Private Universities which made the following assertions:

  • That govt fully fund SUCs to take care of the marginalized
  • That the private HEIs serve the greater mass of higher education
  • That a level-playing field between public and private HEIs be established defined in terms of differentiated markets and curricular programs
  • That the Regulations of SUCs be defined by their respective charters

This was a breakthrough.  In our COCOPEA ROADMAP TO HIGHER EDUCATION in the Philippines, we had given the complementarity between public and private education highest priority, but this was the first time it was being thematized with concrete suggestions by the head of the PASUC at that!

It was very exciting.

In one of the huddles during a Senate hearing, PASUC President Ric Rotoras and I, then serving as COCOPEA chair, agreed that we should get together to explore collaboration through a series of conversations.  Present in that huddle were PASUC President Ric Rotoras, Sen. Bam Aquino, CHED Commissioner Prospero de Vera, Atty. Joseph Estrada and myself.

The first Conversation was in the Century Park Hotel, on November 22, 2016

  • We took up issues pertinent to
    • Complementarity
    • Levelling the playing field
    • Academic Freedom
    • Access
    • Funding structures for higher education to sustain both public and private universities
    • Collaboration instead of competition
    • Self- Governance?
    • Market segmentation
    • SYSTEM of public and private education providing Quality education for all….
    • Technical vocation as higher education
    • Scholarships…quality
    • Meaning of “higher education”
  • We took up these issues in a spirit of brainstorming.  We were encouraged by the openness of each side to collaboration.  We resolved on deeper discussions in the next meeting.

The Second Conversation was at the Ateneo de Davao University, 12-13 Jan 2017.  Resolved were:

R1.  That the PH system of education provide access to quality higher education to all qualified Filipino students.

R2.  That government scholarships be provided in quality HEIs, both public and private.

R3.  That qualified Filipino students able to pay for their higher education pay for it;  that qualified Filipino students unable to pay for their education be fully supported in their HE by government through scholarships and allowances as needed, esp. in programs or courses consistent with the National Development Plan and contributory to the realization of Ambisyon Natin 2040.

R4.  That the PASUC and the COCOPEA, representing segments of public and private education respectively, shall work together in complementarity to improve the quality of higher education in both public and private HEIs.

R5.  That a committee jointly constituted by PASUC and COCOPEA draft legislation to create innovation centers in each region; the centers shall bring together resources of public and private HEIs, industry and agriculture in the regions to foster and promote innovation in industry and agriculture an appropriate regional niching, strengthening human resource development for this purpose and providing incentives for private support.

R6.  That PASUC and COCOPEA shall jointly propose to the DepED that the SUCs be relieved of their role in the provision of senior high schools under the K-12 program considering the readiness of the DepEd to fulfill this responsibility in collaboration with the private sector.

R7.  That PASUC and COCOPEA jointly commits itself to the culture of quality assurance guided by the ASEAN Quality Assurance Network (AQAN) and its ASEAN Quality Reference Framework (AQRF) and request the PH government for necessary funds to support the commitment.

R8.  That PASUC and COCOPEA jointly commits itself in academic freedom and responsibility to its shared mission of providing quality higher education to the Filipino people and to find the appropriate structure to support and govern itself under the reasonable regulation of government as higher education in the PH.

R9 That PACUC and COCOPEA shall jointly invite leaders of LCUs to collaborate with it in this shared mission.

The Third Conversation.  April 20, 2017  (15 months ago)
Hosted by Dr. Ester Ogena of PNU at the Diamond Hotel.

  • WE expressed our gratitude for SB 1304 sponsored primarily by Sen. Ralph Recto that reflected the concerns of PASCU-COCOPEA in the project of providing universal access to quality tertiary education to all.
  • WE established standing committees:
    • Universal access to quality higher education
    • Academic freedom and self-governance
    • Improving the quality of higher education in both SUCs and Private HEIs (cf.  R5 of 2nd conversation)
  • That the Presidents and the EDs would constitute these committees
  • That Dr. Ester Ojena would chair the Innovation Committee

Since then, much happened.

  • Passage of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act (RA 10931).
  • Murder of Dr. Ric Rotoras

Change of Leadership in the COCOPEA passed to Dr. Pio Baconga

New Head of PASUC was Dr. Tirso Ronquillo

Today, after a hiatus of 14 months, finally the 4th conversation.

Challenges for the future:  Appreciate the strength of PASUC-COCOPEA (as it was in the genesis of RA 10931)

  • Proper administration of UAQTEA
    • How we can respond to the needs of our economy
    • How we can provide leadership development for our country:  educated, patriotic, moral,
    • Without killing one another?
  • Academic Freedom and Self-Governance
    • Academic freedom from overregulation
    • To unleash critical thinking, creativity and innovativeness
      • Responsive to local needs
      • Participant in world transformation.
  • Quality and Quality Assurance in the PH System of higher education.
    • Improve the QA landscape
    • Possible revision of CMO 46 s 2012
    • To insure that the PH higher education system succeeds in delivering quality education to all.

About Joel Tabora, S.J.

Jesuit. Educator
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