Educators Speak; Challenges and Issues in RP Higher Education

Article excerpt

Byline: Dr. NENALYN P. DEFENSOR Commissioner, Commission on Higher Education

(Keynote address delivered at the International Network of Quality Assurance Agencies (INQAAHE) Biennial Conference at Toronto, Canada, April 4, 2007.)

THE Philippine education system differs from the education system of other countries in the Asia Pacific Rim region in a number of ways. It closely resembles the American system of formal education while its neighbors have been influenced by the English, French, or Dutch system. The Philippines has only ten years of basic education while others have twelve or more years. The literacy rate in the country is considerably high.

For many decades, the administration, supervision, and regulation of higher education in the Philippines was vested in a single body, the Department of Education, Culture, and Sports through its Bureau of Higher Education. For quite a long period of time, the higher education sector was not given much attention because of the overwhelmingly great concerns in basic education.

Strong public concern for the improvement of tertiary education led to the passage of a law, Republic Act No. 7722, otherwise known as the Higher Education Act of 1994, creating the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). Among the mandates of the Commission are:

* formulate and recommend development plans, policies, priorities, and programs on higher education and research;

* set minimum standards for programs and institutions of higher learning recommended by panels of experts in the field;

* monitor and evaluate the performance of programs and institutions of higher learning for appropriate incentives as well as the imposition of sanctions;

* identify, support and develop potential centers of excellence in program areas needed for the development of world-class scholarship, nation building and national development.

Basic features of Philippine Higher Education

1. Significant number of public and private higher education institutions

The Philippines is an archipelago with more than 7,100 islands, divided into sixteen (16) regions for governance. There are two types of higher education institutions (HEIs) operating in the country, namely: public and private. In SY 2005-2006, there was a total of 1,683 HEIs. Of this number, 191 or 11.0 percent are public and 1,492 or 89.0 percent are private.

Public institutions are composed of 111 state universities and colleges, one CHED Supervised Institution, 65 Local Colleges and Universities and 14 other government schools and special HEIs.

While state universities and colleges have been established by law and are financially supported by the national government, private higher education institutions are owned by private groups or individuals organized into corporations. They are classified either as sectarian or non-sectarian colleges and universities. Sectarian institutions are usually non-stock, non-profit institutions owned and operated by religious orders. Non-sectarian institutions are owned by corporations which are not affiliated with any religious organization.

2. Large college student population

The system has a large college student population with a total of about 2,431,378 students as of 2006. Of this number, 34.3 percent belongs to the public sector while 65.7 percent comes from private HEIs.

3. Diversity in program offerings

A variety of higher education programs are offered by both the public and private HEIs. As of 2005, approximately 12,000 higher education programs are being offered by the HEIs in the country. The cluster of Business and Management programs has traditionally been the most oversubscribed with the highest number of HEIs offering the programs and having the highest enrolment among the disciplinal areas. In the early 90s, Information Technology became very attractive, and many institutions offered varied programs. …