Schools ‘need to address issues’ in time for economic integration

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014


THE Academe has to address issues in order to be ready for next year’s Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) economic integration.

Commission on Higher Education 7 supervising education program specialist Dr. Josefino Ronquillo said the integration in 2015 will open doors to foreign and local students who want to pursue studies within the region.

More scholarships are also expected to be offered with the integration. Filipino and foreign teachers can also avail themselves of faculty exchange programs.

Educators acknowledged during a workshop hosted by the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the University of San Carlos last week that issues like the non-uniformity of academic calendar, present collaboration between the industry and academe, international accreditation problems, and lack of internationally-published scientific research have to be addressed.

The University of the Philippines system, except that of UP Diliman, and The Ateneo de Manila University announced early this month that they are shifting their academic calendars from June-March to August-May.

Legislation

Educators who attended the workshop raised the need for legislation on the country’s official academic calendar.

ADMU’s new schedule will take effect in the School Year 2015 to 2016 while that of UP will take effect in academic year 2014 to 2015.

Ronquillo said changes in the academic calendar are in line with the international standards where classes start in August or September. He said this will promote “continuity” and “mobility” in studies for Filipinos and foreigners who want to cross-enroll in the Philippines and in other countries.

He said there is no problem in the shift in academic calendar since some universities in Metro Manila are already adopting a trimester format. He said, however, that the Department of Education is still deciding over the changes since it is still conducting consultations.

Ronquillo said schools in the tertiary level are also doing consultations but he expects “positive results.”

Collaboration

To produce more competitive graduates, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority 7 Director Rosanna Urdaneta and University of San Carlos faculty Christine Maria Gohetia said there is a need for a “stronger industry-academe collaboration.”

For Tesda, Urdaneta is encouraging industries be “more appreciative” of the agency’s competency assessment and certification.

Tesda conducts assessment of Tesda graduates and skilled workers to determine whether
they can work based on “defined competency standards.” Certification is provided to those who meet these standards.

Urdaneta said companies should hire Tesda-certified skilled workers since they have been assessed to be at par or very close to international standards.

“We hope that the industries have a natural appreciation of skills development.

Hopefully, they get workers that are certified by us (Tesda),” the director said.

Urdaneta said a stronger industry-academe linkage will also mean better access to the industries’ state of the art facilities which will make the graduates more competitive in their chosen fields.

Jobs mismatch

She said that in Cebu, the industries are “more appreciative” of Tesda’s assessment and certification.

Gohetia, on the other hand, emphasized the need for a stronger collaboration to decrease the country’s jobs mismatch.

The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) earlier issued a statement in its website saying that Asean integration will require the region’s education systems to “provide individuals with requisite skills for a changing labor market.”

One of the solutions Gohetia suggested is to come up with a concrete program for on-the-job trainees where companies come up with a particular program matched with assessment tools.

Urdaneta said Tesda has doubled its scholarship for this year to address labor supply issues and to encourage people to avail themselves of skills development programs.

Gohetia also raised the issue on the need to align the country’s educational programs, particularly in terms of accreditation, with international standards.

Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Atty. Miguel B. Varela, meanwhile, said in a transcript published in PCCI’s website that the Philippines is behind the Asean-6 countries as far as the quality of its educational system ranking.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 19, 2014.

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