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CHED: Reforms in tertiary education by 2009-2010

November 5, 2008 2:29am
MANILA, Philippines - Wide-ranging reforms may be introduced in the tertiary education system starting school year 2009-2010, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) said Tuesday.

In a press conference, CHED Chairman Emmanuel Y. Angeles said the strategic plan that will be submitted to the President next month will upgrade tertiary education to make it at par with neighboring countries.

"We are planning to consult with our stakeholders and get their reactions about our concerns and proposals which are all geared towards promoting quality education. We are starting the national consultation this month, and hopefully by December we could already submit the final reports and recommendations to the President for approval," he told reporters in Quezon City.

Mr. Angeles said the plan has four major concerns, namely, faculty development, facilities development, scholarship for poor and deserving students, and strengthening the research capability of higher educational institutions.

He said priority will be given to teachers’ pre-service training, licensure examination, and reserving some courses only for those with a masters degree.

Mr. Angeles said CHEd is proposing the creation of the National Coordinating Council, which will draw up common standard for accreditation of colleges and universities.

He added that centers of excellence will be supported, and incentives will be provided to schools with accredited programs.

Mr. Angeles said CHEd also takes note of the Palace’s directive to address the demand for skilled workers.

"We will have scholarship programs for students who will take science, engineering and mathematics-related courses," he said.

He added the government has set aside a budget to improve English instruction. "Only 10% of total applicants to call centers actually get accepted. To support this booming industry, the government has subsidized a program to improve English instruction in colleges."

Mr. Angeles said they are proposing that educational institutions be required to disclose annually a business plan to generate income aside from tuition to "limit the annual increase of fees."

Another proposal is adding another year in the undergraduate course.

"Currently, we are not at par with our peers who have a 12-year education system before entering universities. The entire educational system should not be less than 15 years," Mr. Angeles said.

Excluding preschool, the Philippine educational system has 10 years of basic education and four years of tertiary education.

Mr. Angeles said by adding another academic year in the tertiary level, students will not be forced to absorb information within only four years of college.

"Nowadays there occurs a mental indigestion... students are forced to take in everything in such a short span of time, they do not even have enough breaks because they take classes even during the summer," he added.

Other recommendations subject to consultations are:

* expanding options for the medium of instruction in Grade 1 such as the use of regional dialects;
* requiring universities and colleges to determine admission of students based on scholastic aptitude test scores; and
* reforming some curricula in the higher education (phasing out obsolete subjects and updating textbooks).

Officials from the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines and De La Salle University said "they have yet to study" the CHEd’s proposals. — Jhoanna Frances S. Valdez, BusinessWorld