Politics and corruption still the biggest hurdle to building world-class public education services in the Philippines

See? If he puts his mind to it, he can overcome his psychological dysfunction. I agree with Professor Antonio Contreras on all the points he raised in his Manila Times piece today “Flexible learning requires flexible governance and dynamic mindsets”. Contreras refers favourably to Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) Chairman Prospero de Vera III who declared recently that “flexible learning is here to stay and that the era of an educational system solely dependent on face-to-face classroom-based delivery is seeing its end” but cites the formidable challenge of “how to breach the digital divide”.

He then writes…

But beyond the infrastructure and the readiness of the teachers and students, the more fundamental challenge is how do we rewire the educational system to adjust. Flexible learning will definitely falter if it is implemented within a regulatory regime that remains in command-and-control mode. In order for flexible learning to prosper, teachers must evolve into learning facilitators; they are no longer sages on the stage but are more guides on the side. This would therefore require an educational system that is governed with more flexibility and appreciation of innovation. Flexible learning requires flexible educational governance systems.

However, Contreras didn’t dare mention what is actually the biggest problem education faces in the country as far public educational institutions are concerned; politics and corruption. Not only in the institutions but the governing body that is CHED, as well. Local city universities aren’t immune from politics. In fact the local government unit (LGU) politicos always insist on gaming the system specially in admissions. You also have faculty members and administrators who act more like gangsters than educators as they are part of syndicates who prey on the students. There are CHED regional directors who facilitate accreditation for colleges and universities to qualify for higher education institution (HEI) status and gain access to UniFast which is the additional subsidy provided by the national government to Local Colleges and Universities (LCUs) and State Universities and Colleges (SUCs). Research grants also fall prey to shenanigans because of improper liquidation and outrageously high professional fees for the favored few.

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The proof is in the Commission on Audit (COA) audit reports for these institutions. Education 4.0 should be the norm in response to the needs of Industry 4.0. Faculty should adapt to the marriage of pedagogy and technology and the sooner the better. We supposedly have the advantage of a demographic sweet spot but this will be useless if we keep on turning out graduates who don’t meet the minimum standard required by not only the local workplace but the global one as well.

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