Quality Assurance in Philippine Higher Education; Lessons Learned
Quality assurance in Philippine higher education
By Mona Dumlao-Valismo, Ph.D. Commissioner, Commission on Higher Education SINCE the 1990s, quality and quality assurance have become the key themes for higher education in many countries not only in Asia and the Pacific Region but also in the rest of the world. More and more, people are concerned about the products or outputs of universities and colleges - whether societies are getting the real value for their investments in higher education.
In the Philippines, after 20 years of the last study in 1970 by the Presidential Commission to Survey Philippine Education (PCSPE), a deep, well-rounded, consolidated dissection of the state of education and training was conducted by the Congressional Commission on Education (EDCOM) in 1991 to 1993 and centered on the issues confronting quality and governance. The Philippine Task Force on Higher Education (1995) focused on the sources of inefficiency, equity as well as quality in higher education and the Presidential Commission to Educational Reform 2000 (PCER) focused on areas not yet implemented or a result of enrollment, imbalance distribution, low internal efficiency, inadequacy of research projects, under investment and poor quality, mismatch between programs and graduates and between employment and society needs and limited and underdeveloped graduate education.
Confronted with these pressing issues and concerns on quality and to eradicate the problems that hamper the development of higher education in the Philippines, one of the major reforms espoused by the EDCOM with the passage of Republic Act 7722 May of 1994, was the establishment of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) as a department-level agency and as a separate and independent body from the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) and the creation of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). This paved the way to having agencies of government, which will provide the needed attention and proper focus in improving the state of higher education in the country.
Higher Education in the Philippines is a very large system dominated by the private sector. Of the total 1,403 higher education institutions (HEIs) 83.61 percent are private, the rest are public. The average enrollment for the past five academic years is 2,131,650 and the average number of graduates is 384,489. With a very big system such as this, and considering the present educational context, the existing support mechanisms in the system, both internal and external, and the challenges of globalization, determining and assessing the quality of higher education inputs, outputs and even the processes pose a crucial issue if improvement in the system will have to be undertaken, or if quality assurance mechanism has to be put in place. Basically, the situation or conditions prevailing in Philippine higher education for so many years in the past boils down to the main issue which is quality. But there is another pressing issue that should be addressed - how can quality of higher education be assessed or measured in a more systematic and effective way?
What really is quality education? Is there a universal definition of quality education? On the higher level, there appears to be a consensus among educators that the term refers to the value added, mainly in economic terms, to the individual who went through the educative process. In the Philippine context, there is also a view that quality implies that the element of social value in the educative process is present, that is, the recipient's potential for growth and development must contribute to nation building. …