/ 16 January 2021

THE PHILIPPINE Business for Education called for a comprehensive set of reforms to address the learning crisis in the Philippines.

“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 Chairman Ramon del Rosario, Jr. said.

The group outlined five urgent recommendations to reform the education system — addressing stunting and malnutrition among school children through the implementation of the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition; allotting higher budget for education; establishing an autonomous as-sessment agency; creating a National Teacher Education Scholarship program; and stronger implementation of mother tongue-based multilingual education.

It emphasized the need for an Education Commission to be reconvened within the year to set the vision for Philippine education and address long-term problems in the sector.

PBEd said 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.

“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 said.

Members of the PBEd Board also joined the call for education reforms, saying 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 economy when workers are not able to meet the demands of the industry because they lack skills.

Former Social Security System President and Chief Executive Officer Corazon dela Paz-Bernardo said 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.”