The Second Congressional Commission on Education (EDCOM 2) released findings during its first year of operation on January 23, 2024.
In its Year One Report entitled “Miseducation: The Failed System of Philippine Education”, the Commission highlighted its findings in twelve out of its twenty-eight Priority Areas, following its first year of work. This is in line with its mandate under RA 11899 to report to Congress its accomplishments, findings and recommendations on a periodic basis.
EDCOM 2 was formally convened on January 23, 2023, and has since initiated a national effort to diagnose the primary challenges leading to poor learning outcomes, together with its Advisory Council, Standing Committee members, and its Technical Secretariat.
The Commission has since conducted extensive research as well as 19 hearings and consultations, 12 focused group discussions, and 23 site visits all over the country, in its mission to “undertake a comprehensive national assessment and evaluation of the performance of the Philippine education sector”. It has also commissioned 90 researches, together with the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, University of the Philippines, De La Salle University, among other scholars all over the country and abroad.
First year findings showcased
Findings in the Report will also be showcased in exhibits in the Senate of the Philippines and the Ramon V. Mitra Building in the House of Representatives. EDCOM 2 Commissioners Representatives Roman Romulo, Mark Go, and Francisco Benitez graced the exhibit opening in the RVM Building in the House.
EDCOM Co-Chairperson Roman Romulo also officially reported EDCOM’s findings to the House of Representatives, consistent with RA 11899 which mandates the Commission to share its findings and recommendations to Congress on a periodic basis. This was followed by a formal submission of the Report to the House leadership, led by Speaker Martin Romualdez.
In his privilege speech during the House Plenary on Monday, January 22, Rep. Roman Romulo, shared “The foundational step toward solutions involves a meticulous examination of the problem and determining the precise obstacles that impede genuine reform – a task that the Commission diligently pursued in our Year One Report”.
“This Is the role of EDCOM: translating this clarity into actionable points, so that together, we can work together, we can work towards a nation where every learner has access to quality education”, he continued.
EDCOM 2 Co-Chair Rep. Mark Go also remarked, “The report produced by EDCOM has given us a valuable opportunity to to uplift the quality of education in the country and steer the fate of the succeeding generations of Filipinos into an empowered and enlightened future where access to quality education is truly the solution in transcending the cycle of poverty”.
“It is time to face the problems head on with renewed fervor and a sense of duty. Together, let us commend the lengths that EDCOM 2 faced to the truth of our education system’s dire need for reform and, on the part of Congress, be champions of education and take concrete steps in reforming our education system”, Rep. Go continued.
Rep. Francisco “Kiko” Benitez, EDCOM 2 Co-Chairperson for the Standing Committee on Early Childhood Education and Development said, “I feel that the EDCOM has gone far in identifying what these problems [of the education sector] are…and to be able to weave them together into a comprehensive picture of what is at stake, what is wrong, and what may be possible to do for our education system”.
Recommendations for education reform
The Report includes forty recommendations of EDCOM, including actions taken by the Commission in the past year.
In Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD), EDCOM 2 recommends the government to “find possible complementarities of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and the Food Stamp Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development”.
To solve dilemmas in textbook procurement, the Commission also recommends for the Department of Education (DepEd) to look into the possibility of procuring books that are already available on the market rather than engaging publishers to develop new ones. It may be recalled that, in its consultations with DepEd, EDCOM 2 found that since 2012, only 27 textbooks have been procured for Kindergarten to Grade 10, despite substantial budget allocations.
Under its recommendations for Higher Education, the Commission also recommends to “prioritize the poorest of the poor” for the Tertiary Education Subsidy. This is following the Commission’s findings that between 2018 and 2022, the proportion of the grantees of the subsidy that come from DSWD’s Listahanan 2.0 and 4Ps has declined markedly, from 74% to 31%.
EDCOM 2 also found that teachers continue to bear the burden of about fifty administrative and ancillary tasks, despite efforts to allow them to focus on teaching across many administrations. The Commission pointed out that the DepEd Bureau of Human Resource and Organizational Development should serve as a “clearinghouse” for school ancillary and non-teaching tasks to protect teachers from such responsibilities, which often erode instructional time.
While EDCOM 2 discovered that participation in Technical-Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programs has been steadily increasing, 64% of programs with training regulations are still low-level – NC1 (National Certification 1) and NC2 programs.
The Commission also pointed out that the failure to permanently establish a coordinating body between the three education agencies – DepEd, Commission on Higher Education, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority – has resulted in lack of effective coordination between them, aggravated by the existence of 64 different interagency bodies that the three main education agencies need to attend to, on top of their primary mandate.
EDCOM 2 Co-Chair Senator Win Gatchalian will also report to the Senate on Tuesday, 23 January, the first year anniversary of EDCOM following the ceremonial opening of the exhibit in the Senate. The Report will be published for public download in the EDCOM 2 website on January 23.
EDCOM 2 is the Congressional body created through RA11899, tasked to undertake a comprehensive national assessment and evaluation of the performance of the Philippine education sector. In the next three years, it will also recommend legislation that aims to address the education crisis in the country.
MEDIA NOTE: All interview requests related to EDCOM II should be directed to the EDCOM II Communications Office at [email protected].