Can the Philippines Survive with No College Freshmen for 2 Years?

Mike Togle
June 22, 2017

Republic Act 10533, or the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013, radically changes the landscape of the Philippine education system. Most telling of these changes is in the extension of Primary and Secondary education to 12 years for purposes of aligning Philippine education with international standards and refocus learning among young Filipinos into one that is “outcome-based.”

Challenges in the Education Sector

But, such an extensive change is not without its problems.

Several issues were already heavily being discussed as early as the passage of the bill: the loss of Freshmen students entering college in the years 2016 and 2017, teachers of certain levels not having students to teach, and non-teaching support positions being vulnerable to retrenchment due to the loss of revenue. Statistics from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) peg the number of affected jobs in the education sector at 25,000.

Government is not taking this lightly

As noted by CHED, the public education sector should have little problems given that the national budget can be programmed to handle the law’s negative impacts.

The same cannot be said for private HEIs as the large Freshman batches make up a good chunk of their revenue stream. For at least two years, private schools will have to make up for the loss or reduce their staff compliment, both for teachers and support personnel. A big part of the response involves hiring qualified and interested displaced teachers and support staff. The CHED document notes that:

“The Department of Education needs to hire 30,000 new teachers and 6,000 new non-teaching staff in 2016-2017 alone, and about the same number again for 2017-2018–more than enough to absorb all the displaced personnel from the higher education sector.”

To facilitate this, DepEd will open a “Green Lane” that prioritizes and expedites the hiring of these teachers and support personnel, and matches them according to locality and salary with the needs of the public education system.

They can also take the Adjustment Measures Program of DOLE. It provides income support for a maximum of one year, assistance with matching skills to the current job market, and livelihood training programs for those who wish to open up a business instead.

For its part, CHED has Development Packages to ensure that affected personnel can make the most of the downtime from a reduced workload, mostly in the form of Scholarships and Development Grants for faculty and staff to upgrade their capabilities. CHED will also offer Innovation Grants to help HEIs upgrade their programs in light of RA 10533.

Help is on the way from the IT-BPM Sector

Given its reliance on skilled college graduates for frontline work, the Philippine IT-BPM industry may be vulnerable. The IBPAP is very supportive of the government, lauding the government education agencies’ plans to deal with the problems of the transition period.

One of the things that seem to excite the IBPAP is the immersion in various industries of teachers that will be displaced or reduced in teaching load. IBPAP sees this as a way for them to truly have an idea of an industry’s workings and thus be able to better teach the students.

“When they go back to their classrooms, they will be able to truly speak about the subject well having had industry experience and teach relevant topics after they have gained from the experience,”
the IBPAP said in a statement.

The organization added that the faculty immersive learning component, which will run for 6 months to 2 years, is a “very unique opportunity to directly counter the job vs skills mismatch.” Teaching strategies of the educators “graduating” from the program will be done “in the context of real-world and actual workplace experience.”

“The logic is clear and simple: globally competent faculty leads to globally competent graduates,” IBPAP said. In its June 2016 statement about the K-12 initiative, IBPAP claimed that 15 of its members have signed up for the faculty immersion.

Pointwest is doing its share in helping prepare HEIs for a digital business landscape. It has instituted training programs for interested colleges and universities, like the training on testing the company gave the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) and a recent workshop on Design Thinking for the San Beda College Alabang (SBCA).

Collaboration and Benefits

International education industry publication ICEF Monitor notes that the adoption of the K-12 system and the manner in which it will be implemented increases the marketability of Filipino graduates. ICEF Monitor says that the focus on four courses relevant to industries in the Philippines – one of which is IT – shows that Philippine Businesses are serious about ensuring that the K-12 system produces students with greater employability and a stronger workforce.

Time will tell just how effective the shift to K-12 will be in solving both the education and employment woes of the Philippines. But with government and the business sector closely working hand-in-hand, the hope is that the country will benefit greatly from the change, despite any “growing pains”, particularly during the transition period.


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