The most important lesson I learned from reading the book Why nations fail by Daron Acemuglo and James Robinson is the importance of institution building in the long-term climb towards sustainable and equitable integral human development. For example, if we are now receiving kudos from independent international think tanks and financial institutions on our long-term growth prospects, despite our short-term inability to deal with the pandemic, one of the reasons is that we have been successful. over the past two decades to build strong institutions in our monetary and fiscal sectors. Our Central Bank is known to be one of the best managed in the region and our budget managers have demonstrated admirable fiscal discipline, keeping our debt-to-GDP ratio and fiscal deficit at very reasonable levels for some time.
To deal with the current education crisis, a very crucial institution that we need to establish as soon as possible is what the Philippine Business for Education (PBEd) is fighting for: the immediate convening of a multisectoral educational commission ( EdCom) to seriously tackle the country’s learning crisis without further delay. As envisioned by PBEd, EdCom should be multisectoral, with representatives not only from the legislature and the executive, but also from academia, business and education interest groups. In addition, it needs to tackle issues such as learning outcomes, learning inequalities and the resilience of the education system while remaining open to reforms such as a more decentralized system and a new governance structure. .
As Love Basillote, executive director of PBEd, wrote in the Filipino Daily Investigator: “We want an EdCom that will reinvent and rethink Filipino education and write a roadmap for the future. EdCom will be made up of experts and leaders from government, business, civil society and interest groups. EdCom’s roadmap is strategic, offering solutions that will lead to systemic reforms towards inclusive and resilient Filipino education. The roadmap will focus on the key areas of teaching and learning, governance, access and equity, and workforce development. Fortunately, the ball started to roll when an EdCom resolution was passed at committee level on May 27 in the House of Representatives. The authors of the resolution were representatives Kiko Benitez, Stella Quimbo, Fidel Nograles, Rommel Angara; President Mark Go and members of the Higher and Technical Education Committee; and President Roman Romulo and members of the Committee on Basic Education and Culture. If the current legislature succeeds in passing this EdCom bill, future generations will remember this government as having begun building an institution capable of significantly addressing the education crisis facing the country. faced for some time now.
Because the key to improving the quality of education is to have better teachers, PBEd helped draft a bill that can be presented to the Philippine Senate. The law calls for improving the quality of teachers by setting up a teacher training program for successful students. According to UNESCO, research has shown that teachers, more than any other education constituency, determine the quality of education and student achievement. In particular, “Research studies have shown positive associations between student achievement and teachers’ academic skills, level of content knowledge, years of experience, and participation in content-related professional development opportunities. Sporadic efforts have been made in the past to strengthen pre-service teacher education and impose higher admission requirements in teacher education programs, which included aptitude and motivation. As can be deduced, however, from the continued underperformance of young Filipino students in international rankings, improving the quality of teachers through teacher education and training is still not supported. and the priority it deserves.
Attracting the best is not enough to teach. Serious efforts must also be made to enhance the image of teaching professionals and support the placement of qualified teachers, in particular in the public primary and secondary education system. The bill drafted by PBEd aims to enact the Teacher Education Program for Achieving Students (TEACH) which provides stronger incentives to develop top performing students as effective teachers. The TEACH program is merit-based in which applicants have to take competitions, both at partner schools and in the program application. It follows an accelerated model of recruiting teacher training programs. It recruits people who change careers to pursue a Certificate in Teaching (CTP) program and undergraduates to complete teacher education programs.
Just as in the business world, coaching or mentoring has become standard practice to prepare future generations of business leaders, mentoring will be integrated into the TEACH program. Future teachers must also be prepared academically, socially and psychologically. One proven way to achieve this is through mentoring, which will be at the heart of the TEACH program, where fellows will be guided by approved and qualified mentors. The SEAMEO Innotech study on teacher motivation showed that mentors encourage students to follow a similar teaching path. In turn, students, when they become teachers, have a stronger will to persevere in the teaching profession. Indeed, here again in this very crucial process of person-to-person support, the many initiatives of companies and civil society to lend a hand to the public sector in the promotion of the common good will be very useful.
There have been many instances where, on their own initiative, non-governmental organizations and businesses have worked closely with public school principals and teachers to improve the quality of education. Let me cite a few examples to encourage many other institutions to contribute to improving the quality of teachers.
CitySavings, a savings bank owned by the Aboitiz group, regularly supports the Brigada Eskwela of the Ministry of Education. At the height of the pandemic, the bank mobilized the provision of essential safety and sanitation to complement DepEd’s efforts to ensure the health, safety and well-being of teachers, students and non-teaching staff. In consultation with the regional and divisional offices of DepEd within local communities, the bank has contributed to various education-related interventions through other initiatives to support teaching and learning. It provided technology support and learning materials, printing equipment and supplies, and hand washing facilities to enable schools to meet the expectations of new normal teaching and learning methods.
As public schools turned to online education, CitySavings assisted with both funds and manpower in the implementation of the Agile: Learning Series for Teachers project, a series of learning modules. virtual training which aims to equip teachers with the tools and skills to collaborate effectively and deliver online courses. To advance the “digitization” of teachers, CitySavings has partnered with Thames International EduRescue and Akadasia Singapore for HEROES 2021 (Help Educators Rise to Online Education for SY 2020-2021). This is a more intensive training program designed to improve educators’ online teaching skills and provide the tools to move to flexible learning modalities in classroom instruction. In partnership with Alchemy Education, Inc., the bank implemented the Project Teach: Educator Empowerment Program (EEP), an innovative teacher development initiative that provides schools with the means to provide all teachers with lifelong training. of the year on critical areas that affect the quality of teaching. and learning.
Beyond teaching skills, the bank, in partnership with MentalHealthPH, has provided practical advice and professional advice on how teachers can take better care of themselves, all from the comfort of their own homes. There were 205,000 faculty and non-teaching staff who registered for the online courses and webinars provided by CitySavings to 755 DepEd beneficiary schools, divisions and regional offices across the country. Bank employees, from 107 branches across the country, spent 3,700 hours implementing the various initiatives.
Another banking group that has done a lot to help the Department of Education improve the quality of basic education is the Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company (Metrobank). The Metrobank Foundation, in partnership with DepEd and the Association of Mathematics Teachers of the Philippines, sponsors an annual math competition aimed at increasing the competitiveness of elementary and secondary students. It is the oldest math competition in the country, with more than half a million students participating in national qualifiers each year. The Foundation also has many initiatives aimed at motivating teachers at the basic education level to excel in their profession.
The Foundation was founded on the initiative of the late George Ty, founder of Metrobank. In this regard, it should be noted that many of the on-going private sector efforts to help improve the quality of teachers can be attributed to businesses started by Chinese Filipino entrepreneurs like Mr. Ty. The other main ones are the SM group founded by the late Henry Sy; the Lucio Tan group; and the Megaworld group created by Andrew Tan. This fact can be attributed to the very high value placed on education in the Confucian culture associated with the Chinese. We must mobilize all of these resources and more to address the education crisis in the Philippines.
Bernardo M. Villegas holds a doctorate. in Economics from Harvard, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Asia and the Pacific and Visiting Professor at IESE Business School in Barcelona, Spain. He was a member of the Constitutional Commission from 1986.