PBEd calls for urgent reforms to address learning crisis

Published January 15, 2021, 6:30 AM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

Advocacy group Philippine Business for Education (PBEd) on Thursday unveiled its recommendations  for a comprehensive set of reforms to address the learning crisis in the country.

“With a learning crisis on our hands and the future of millions of Filipinos at stake, what we need now is a strong, multi-sectoral coalition that will push for education reforms and ensure that quality education becomes a top priority in the national development agenda,” PBEd Chair Ramon del Rosario, Jr. said.

In an online press conference, PBEd outlined five urgent recommendations to reform the education system in the country. These include addressing stunting and malnutrition among school children through the implementation of the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition; higher budget for education; an establishment of an autonomous assessment agency; the creation of a National Teacher Education Scholarship program; and a stronger implementation of mother tongue-based multilingual education.

In a statement, the organization also emphasized the need for an Education Commission (EdCom) to be reconvened within the year to set the vision for Philippine education and address long-term problems in the sector. PBEd noted that the 2021 EdCom should be “a multisectoral body with representation from the legislature, private sector, civil society, parents’ association, the youth, school teachers and school leaders, and it should be supported by a competent and objective secretariat.” The EdCom should address long-term challenges like education governance, teacher quality, technology in education, and competitiveness, PBEd added.

“We need to look at the education crisis from different perspectives. We need to see the bigger picture and implement reforms in crucial areas that determine the quality of education that we provide to our students,” del Rosario added.

PBEd’s urgent call to action comes after a series of international assessments ranked Filipino students among the lowest in the world in terms of science, mathematics and reading competency. The organization added that the protracted school closure and uncertainty in the safe and equitable reopening of schools will further worsen the country’s learning losses, especially for the 2.7 million unenrolled K-12 students this school year.

Members of the PBEd Board also joined in on the call for education reforms, as the learning crisis threatens other areas of Philippine society.

Lito Tayag, country managing director of Accenture Philippines, said the learning crisis threatens the competitiveness of the Philippine economy when workers are not able to meet the demands of industry in terms of skills required to carry out their jobs.

Former Social Security System President and Chief Executive Officer Corazon dela Paz-Bernardo, meanwhile, added that the education crisis can lead to and exacerbate poverty in the Philippines, as families with members who lack proper education miss out on crucial opportunities.

“We are now sounding the alarm,” del Rosario said. “The Philippine government must take the lead in drawing up and implementing plans for an education system that Filipino learners deserve. We ask our leaders to make education a top priority, and for other stakeholders in the education sector to work together in stemming this crisis.”

A non-profit organization founded in 2006 by top CEOs in the country, PBEd is the business community’s response to the need for greater education and economic alignment. Its advocacies include teacher quality improvement and workforce development.