“It is very important that there is a roadmap and that there is a coherent strategy and target for the education system”, EDCOM 2 Executive Director Dr. Karol Mark Yee said during the LIDER 7 event of the Private Education Assistance Committee (PEAC) last July 13, 2023.
The event, hosted by PEAC Executive Director and EDCOM 2 Advisory Council Member Rhodora Angela F. Ferrer, is part of a series of fora and discussions by PEAC that tackles education reforms.
Dr. Yee explained that, aside from studying the possible structures that could enhance coordination of government agencies, the Commission must also consider other factors, beginning with existing processes and systems within government.
Dr. Yee cited, as an example the need for a shared, coordinated strategy between government agencies, detailing the importance of strengthening the link between the Philippine Development Plan, the General Appropriations Act (GAA) targets, and the agencies’ Major Final Outputs (MFOs), saying that these can be leveraged to help align strategies within and across agencies.
“Coordination will be difficult if, to begin with, strategies are not aligned and connected,” he continued [in Filipino].
“There are so many instruments of government that should allow for proper planning and coordination…Our role in EDCOM is [studying] paano kumpunihin at pag-tagpi-tagpiin ang mga ito to enable genuine coordination and genuine assessment of progress and monitoring of agencies”, Dr. Yee said.
Building a constituency for reform
EDCOM 2 Chief Legal Officer Atty. Joseph Noel Estrada explained the need to build public and stakeholder support for the reform initiatives by the Commission.
He noted that the success of the Commission lies in implementing legislation beyond EDCOM 2’s three-year lifespan. “We have to oversee that these solutions are implemented. I think we can build on that – kahit tapos na ang EDCOM 2, dapat mayroon pa ring opisina that is constantly looking [at education reforms]”, he said.
Estrada also emphasized the need to establish public support for education. “If you get the numbers, if you get the supporters of education, then that’s good politics,” he said.
“Our reforms should survive several administrations in the long-term”, he added.
Dr. Yee also underlined the critical role played by education stakeholders in building a strong constituency for reform as one of the insights that have emerged in the meetings of the Standing Committee on Governance and Finance. “We need a strong constituency for reform to make sure that there is a check and balance in government after EDCOM 2 [to ensure continuity in efforts to improve quality of education]”, Dr. Yee said.
He pointed to organizations for parents, industries, civil society organizations (CSOs), and other stakeholders that need to organize amongst themselves to make sure that “government does not stray from its path to reform”.
“Mahalaga po ang lahat ng aspeto na ito – industries, parents, families, communities, as well as CSOs – kasi bahagi po lahat ‘yan ng isang ecosystem”, he added.
Education legislation in the works
In the same forum, EDCOM 2 Chief Legal Officer Atty. Joseph Noel Estrada detailed the Commission’s priority bills.
Senate Bill 1604 or the Academic Recovery and Accessible Learning (ARAL) Program Act, authored by EDCOM 2 Co-Chairperson Senator Win Gatchalian, seeks to equip senior high school graduates with skills needed in the labor market.
House Bill 7584, authored by EDCOM 2 Co-Chairperson Representative Roman Romulo, seeks to prohibit the “No Permit, No Exam” policy in schools. Counterpart measures, SB 1359 and HB 6483, are also listed as priorities.
House Bill 7370, authored by EDCOM 2 Co-Chairperson Representative Mark Go, seeks to create a tripartite council attached to the Commission on Higher Education that will formulate and implement policies and programs specific to job-skills mismatch.
Also included in EDCOM 2’s list of priority bills are House Bill (HB) 7990, SN 2029, HB 6717, HB 6574, SB 2200, HB 8559, SB 363, HB7400, SB 364, SB 1360, HB 7922, HB 928, and HB 7893 (K to 10 plus 2).