Strategic Framework for Private Colleges and Universities toward Global Excellence
University, Edilberto C. De Jesus Far Eastern, Manila Bulletin
HONORABLE Members of Congress, Distinguished Members of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education, Ladies and Gentlemen:
On behalf of the Board and the members, I would like to thank the organizers, first for inviting COCOPEA to this forum, and second, for providing the occasion to address the issue of a strategic framework for higher education.
COCOPEA is the voice of private education in the Philippines. The constituency it represents includes about 5500 educational institutions, enrolling about 3.2 million students, perhaps, a million faculty, administrative and contractual staff taking care of them, as well, of course, as the parents and guardians of these students.
At the tertiary level, COCOPEA represents over 1100 colleges and universities with about 1.5 million students. Despite these numbers, however, COCOPEA cannot really implement a strategic framework for the education sector. Not because it does not have ideas or plans, but because it does not have the authority to mandate and operate a system that would have national scope. Unfortunately, individual institutions wishing to rationalize their own systems find themselves constrained by prevailing rules. Liberalization has opened up some economic sectors. Education is one sector that still suffers from a surfeit of regulatory restrictions. Congress is, therefore, really the proper forum for the discussion of a strategic framework.
Fortunately, the Executive Branch, through the Presidential Commission on Educational Reform, has already done the spadework for a strategic plan. I understand that its implementation may require a legislative bill. The ball, Honorable Members of Congress, is in your court. It is also fitting that Congress, which has been part of the problem, should now be part of the solution.
Given the time constraints, let me focus on one specific PCER recommendation, the provision of a prebaccalaureate year for high school graduates wishing to pursue a college degree program. The proposal envisions a national test that high school graduates would take. Those who meet a prescribed score in the test and all the other admission requirements imposed by the school can proceed with their college program. The others will need to attend a pre-baccalaureate course that the school would offer.
For several decades now, educators have recognized the inadequacy of a basic education stream consisting of only ten years. In 1949, over half a century ago, the UNESCO Mission Survey recommended a program of 7 years for grade school and four years of high school. Today, employers are demanding that graduates come equipped with more knowledge and skills than they were fifty years ago. Today, of 17 countries in the Asia Pacific region, only the Philippines retains a 10-year system.
The goal of global excellence or global competitiveness will remain elusive as long as schools have to do so much remedial work on students whose preparation for tertiary level work is less than adequate.
Would the pre-baccalaureate year ensure that our institutions of higher learning will achieve "global excellence" or "global competitiveness"? No, even with an 11-year system, we will still be behind eight countries that require 12, and six countries that require 13 years of basic education. And we have not even discussed as yet the issue of the quality of the basic education programs that the government delivers to 92.5% of students at the elementary, and to 70.5% of students at the secondary, level. But if we cannot even implement this 50-year-old 11th year recommendation, then all the talk about going global will amount to no more than a great deal of hot air only contributing to global warming.
Like other PCER recommendations, the pre-bac year represents an incremental improvement. …