Making education ‘more accessible’ for all Filipinos – Manila Bulletin

(Photo from DepEd)

Under the Duterte administration, access to education has significantly increased by providing more support to those who have limited resources to pursue or continue their studies.

Both the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) noted that access is among the key legacies of President Duterte as he provided support to programs and initiatives that paved the way for more Filipinos to receive and finish their education.

Stronger support for basic education

For basic education, Education Secretary Leonor Briones cited the “extensive” and “massive” support for the Alternative Learning System (ALS) program as one of the legacies of the administration of President Duterte.

(Photo from DepEd)

During Day 2 of the Duterte Legacy Summit: Final Report to the People in May, Briones highlighted that ALS enrollment grew to a yearly average of 95.35 percent compared to the past two administrations.

“Under the Alternative Learning System, we were able to attract and rope in 4,228,350 out-of-school youth and adults who are now in ALS,” Briones said.

“These are the kids whom others describe as those who have fallen through the cracks, who cannot pursue education, who have to work and, for one reason or another, cannot attend classes the traditional way,” she added.

ALS is a parallel learning system in the Philippines that provides opportunities for out-of-school youth and adult (OSYA) learners to develop basic and functional literacy skills, and to access equivalent pathways to complete basic education.

“We are reaching out not only to those in the streets, farmers, factory workers, but also to those who are in prison and those who are in remote places,” Briones shared.

Under the Duterte administration, the ALS was also institutionalized through the passage of Republic Act 11510, which ensured bigger budget allocation and further support of key stakeholders to the program.

When she first came in, Briones said that the budget of DepEd was increased by 30 percent — most of it going to the ALS programs.

“So, we are now feeling much more secure because we are backed up by law and supported by other branches of the government,” she added.

Briones also mentioned that under the Duterte administration, numerous DepEd initiatives to achieve accessible and quality basic education — even amidst the pandemic — received support such as the Last Mile Schools and the Basic Education-Learning Continuity Plan (BE-LCP).

(Photo from DepEd)

“While there are still challenges in basic education, we have made significant progress over the past six years,” Briones said.

“We have endeavored to ensure that education must continue and that no one is left behind. This is the Education Legacy of the Duterte administration,” she added.

Greatest legacy in higher education

At the tertiary level, CHED Chairman Prospero De Vera III said that if “there is one thing that only the Duterte administration can claim” that is providing free higher education for public schools.

“If there is one initiative of government under the Duterte administration which is exclusively ‘Tatak Duterte’ that is Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act because the law was passed under this administration, we have produced the first batch of graduates who did not pay any tuition and miscellaneous fees last year already,” De Vera said in an online presser early this month.

From start to finish, CHED — under the Duterte government — has “produced graduates who did not pay tuition.”

This coming school year, De Vera said that 1.9 million Filipinos in more than 200 public universities will not pay tuition and miscellaneous fees; another 500,000 will get tertiary education subsidies and a little over 200,000 will get the “Tulong Dunong” program.

“These numbers are, in a sense, staggering, because we are the only developing country in the world who have tried or implemented free higher education,” De Vera said, noting that even developed countries like the United States are debating about making higher education free.

“In the Philippines, for public universities, it’s already free,” De Vera said. “So, that is the greatest achievement,” he added.

Moreover, De Vera noted that the participation rate in universities and colleges also increased under the Duterte administration.

“It is now 33 percent, it was less than 30 percent so, for every 100 students who enter the grade one, DepEd data shows only 50 finish high school and only about half of that tried to go to university,” he explained.

Under the outgoing government, De Vera said that for every 100 young Filipinos who started first grade, 33 are now enrolled at the university level.

“Access to education is now or has now improved under the Duterte administration and now we are focusing on ensuring that it is access to quality tertiary education,” De Vera explained.

This, he said, is done by investing in the scholarship for Master’s and Ph.D. of teachers, improving the facilities of schools, and making universities benchmark with the universities abroad.

Before this administration, De Vera said that there were about four or five Philippine universities ranked in the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings. Currently, he noted that there are 15 Philippine universities ranked in the top universities of the world for the impact ranking of THE.

He also noted that a lot of State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) and private schools are now on par with the best universities in the world. “This is a seal of quality assurance that shows that our universities provide quality education,” he added.

De Vera stressed that it is also the philosophy of the Duterte administration that “every peso given to higher education is not an expense, it is an investment in the future of our country because we are producing better educated, more highly trained and highly employable Filipinos.”

 

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