MANILA – The Philippines needs to address bottlenecks in basic education as this will usher the country to be a first-world nation by 2050.
On the sidelines of the 49th Philippine Business Conference (PBC) held at the Manila Hotel on Wednesday, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) president George Barcelon said public school education needs to be improved.
“If we do this right, by 2050, we should be able to move up the ladder,” Barcelon said, adding that the quality of teachers is also important, especially in the basic education.
In his speech at the PBC, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian echoed the sentiment of private sector “to fix the public schools” as 86 percent of students, or majority of the country’s future workforce, go to public schools.
“To become a first-world country by 2050, this is something that we all have been working together, and then hopefully give our next generation a better future compared to ours. However, we cannot reach that first-world status without addressing basic concerns and basic issues, particularly in basic education because that’s where the foundation begins,” Gatchalian said.
The legislator said the K+12 basic education program was introduced in the country to allow students to choose different tracks -- one, to pursue higher education; two, to be employed; and three, to be entrepreneurs.
However, Gatchalian said that in 2018, 10 percent of the 1.2 million senior high school graduates did not make it to any curriculum exit -- either they are unemployed, not part of the workforce, or not part of the school system.
“We have to focus on that 10 percent because the 10 percent is what the government should address in order to make them productive, in order to make the additional two years of senior high school valuable to our families,” he said.
Gatchalian said the unemployment among senior high school students is increasing.
“In the total unemployment data of our country, 7.1 (percent) now is composed of senior high school, and it’s steadily going up in the last few years,” he said.
“So this is a signal that even we added two years, and even 30 percent of our senior high school took tech-voc (technical-vocational track), still a big chunk of our senior high school students remain unemployed,” he added.
The senator said only a few corporations employ senior high school graduates, and those who are employed are given with “very simple jobs” or elementary occupations, such as cleaners, car washers and domestic helpers, among others.
“This is where the dilemma comes in. We added two years in their senior high school. This is added cost for families. We promised them jobs. We promised them that they will be gainfully employed, but they’re not. Instead, they are employed in elementary occupations and not employed in the corporations and businesses that we have promised in terms of salary,” he said, adding that employed senior highs school graduates are earning below the average national wage.
Gatchalian said three bills are currently pending in Congress to address the dilemma in the K+12 program, which include the Batang Magaling Act to address skills mismatch in senior high school; creation of the Tripartite Council, an institutional body composed of the government sector, the academe, and the private sector to tackle the future of workforce; and the Enterprise-Based Education and Training Act that will strengthen the apprenticeship program. (PNA)