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EDCOM 2 visits US to study higher education reforms


The Second Congressional Commission on Education’s (EDCOM 2) is currently conducting a benchmarking visit to the United States of America (US) from April 15-19, 2024. EDCOM 2 Co-Chairpersons Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, Rep. Mark Go, and Rep. Roman Romulo, are joined by Commissioners Rep. Pablo John Garcia, Rep. Kiko Benitez, and Senator Sonny Angara. 

As we prepare our Filipino students for the demands of the 21st century, we need to strengthen our HEIs as hubs of innovation and research that could boost our national development. In pursuing this goal, we need to learn from global best practices”, Senator Gatchalian said. 

The delegation is also composed of members of the Advisory Council including Dr. Cynthia Baustista, Dr. Chito Salazar, and Mr. Fred Ayala. They are also joined by members of the EDCOM 2 Standing Committee on Higher Education, as well as UP President Atty. Angelo Jimenez, DLSU President Br. Bernard Oca, and Ateneo de Manila University President Fr. Roberto Yap SJ.

During the visit, the delegation will be meeting with higher education leaders, and renowned scholars from Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Arizona State University, Georgetown University, Boston College, and the University of the District of Columbia, among others. The Commission will tackle seven EDCOM priority areas on higher education, including (1) Access to quality higher education, (2) Quality assurance, (3) Graduate education, research and innovation, (4) Internationalization, and (5) Connectedness of learner pathways throughout the system.

The delegation aims to learn from the institutions, as well as faculty members and researchers who have conducted research in these areas, to inform the Commission’s ongoing formulation of policy recommendations in higher education.

“Our purpose here is clear: to engage with Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), key experts, and stakeholders in the United States, delving into the intricacies of micro-credentials, lifelong learning pathways, and community colleges”, Rep. Garcia said during his opening remarks at the University of District of Columbia (UDC).

“Our discussions will also center on improving equity in access to higher education opportunities, recognizing the diverse profiles of institutions–both public and private, akin to the Philippines’”, Rep. Garcia said.

In EDCOM 2’s Year One Report, the Commission found that while attendance rates in Philippine HEIs are high, attrition rates are severe at 35% based on data from CHED. Further, a study from the Philippine Institute for Development Studies shows that from AY 2015–2016 to AY 2022–2023, there is less than one percentage point improvement in the admission of students from the lowest income decile, while there is a 9 percentage point increase in the highest income decile. 

The EDCOM visit to the US is part of its ongoing study of best practices in higher education that can inform locally responsive reforms, and is undertaken with the support of USAID through the newly-launched UPSKILL (U.S.-Philippines Partnership for Skills, Innovation, and Lifelong Learning) Program.

UPSKILL is a five-year, $30 million dollar USAID/Philippines program that will develop human capital and drive sustainable, inclusive growth by strengthening higher education in the Philippines. UPSKILL brings together U.S. universities, Philippine government agencies, and the private sector to support Philippine colleges and universities to become more globally competitive. UPSKILL is implemented by a consortium of partners led by RTI International and includes Arizona State University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, North Carolina Agricultural Technical and State University, Philippine Business for Education, and Edukasyon.ph.

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