The Higher Education Scorecard

Manila Bulletin, January 3, 2004 | Go to article overview

The Higher Education Scorecard


Byline: Eduardo P. Garrovillas
Jose Rizal University

IN its Long-Term Higher Education Development Plan, 1996-2005, the Commission on Higher Education set as its goals the development of empowered and globally competitive Filipinos through: 1) provision of undergraduate and graduate education which meet international standards of quality and excellence; 2) generation and diffusion of knowledge in the broad range of disciplines relevant and responsive to the dynamically changing domestic and international environment; 3) broaden the access of deserving and qualified Filipinos to higher education opportunities; and 4) optimization of social, institutional, and individual returns and benefits derived from the utilization of higher education resources.

A creation of Republic Act No. 7722, otherwise known as the Higher Education Act of 1994, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) is mandated to oversee the higher education system of the land. It is an agency attached to the Office of the President of the Philippines for administrative purposes. CHED is responsible for administering and supervising both public and private higher education institutions in the Philippines.

The target date, which is year 2005, is just somewhere around the corner; however, you dont have to be a genius to be able to conclude or extrapolate that, to date, the actual performance of higher education vis-a-vis the plan is dismal. Its scorecard will readily show a failing mark.

According to the Asian Development Bank study (ADB News Release, 19 February 2003), in the 70s, the Philippines was a leading education center in Asia, but the quality of education at all levels has declined significantly in recent decades. Recent surveys ranked the countrys premier university, the University of the Philippines, 44th out of 80 top-ranking universities in Asiaxxx. No less than former education secretary, Bro. Andrew Gonzalez made the same observation that the quality of education in the country is declining, during the recent forum on Corporate Social Responsibility Expo 2003 organized by the League of Corporate Foundations (LCF). The Education Commission (1991 report), on the other hand, has long ago pointed out the mismatch of our college and technical/vocational school graduates with our domestic needs, as well as the global manpower requirements.

I dont want to engage in over-analysis that leads to paralysis. Definitely, reform is urgently needed to address the low quality and pervasive inefficiency in higher education so that the Philippines can regain its status as one of Asias leading education centers and remain competitive in a globalized world. For this, the Asian Development Bank has approved a US $500,000 technical assistance grant to strengthen the Philippine Commission on Higher Education. The assistance will involve improving CHEDs operating systems, developing strategies to deal effectively with clients and other agencies, and targeting human resource development. The restructuring and capacity building is expected to improve CHEDs ability to reform the higher education system.

Against the backdrop of the JDF controversy and the concomitant politico-economic storm it has caused, lets hope and pray that this ADB fund will honestly be put to good use for the sake of higher education.

Lets go over the means through which Philippine higher education hopes to produce empowered and globally competitive graduates:

Items 1 and 2, above, could be fused together, as both have something to do with the human resource requirements of globalization: Very laudable, indeed, because these are the basic requisites of the global job market, e.g., a labor force that is flexible and easily trainable to cope with rapidly changing conditions in the evolving borderless world economy; computer-literate and with knowledge-based skills to access and interpret the mass of available information, etc. …

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