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    Message of Vice President Leni Robredo at The Education President: Interviews with Presidential Aspirants on Philippine Education

    Message of Vice President Leni Robredo
    at The Education President: Interviews with Presidential Aspirants
    on Philippine Education
    Gymnasium, University of Pangasinan, Dagupan City, Pangasinan

    VP LENI: Maraming salamat po, magandang umaga sa inyong lahat. Maupo po tayong lahat. Doctor Anthony Tamayo, chairman of COCOPEA; Mr. Ramon Del Rosario Jr., President and CEO of PHINMA Corporation; Reverend Father Allan, Director of the Archdiocesan Family and Life Ministry of the Archdiocese of Lingayen and Dagupan; Attorney Joseph Noel Estrada, COCOPEA Managing Director; Mr. Vicente Fabella, COCOPEA Senior Adviser and Trustee of the Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities; all the other COCOPEA officials who are present this morning; faculty, employees, students, parents, and alumni of PHINMA University of Pangasinan; the Pious Workers Sisters of the Immaculate Concepcion; guests from member schools, colleges, universities and TechVoc Institutions in Dagupan and the whole of Pangasinan, Baguio and La Union; I heard there are medical professionals here from the Medical City of Region l Medical Center, magandang umaga sa inyong lahat. Barangay officials and local officials present, the attendees in 22 satellite schools, and those who are watching us on Facebook Live, over 100 schools, we crosspost this FB Live in their pages; sa inyo pong lahat, magandang magandang umaga. Thank you very much for inviting me.

    Thank you very much for inviting me over and for having me. Hindi ko pa alam kung mag-memensahe na ako about the whole education program or maghihintay ako sa mga questions but just to give you a glimpse, napaka haba po–napaka haba ng mga gusto nating gawin, but I have always been consistent in saying na one of the first things that I will do if elected president is to declare an education crisis. 'Yung akin pong palagay–[crowd claps] 'yung akin pong palagay, kailangan natin itong gawin para all hands on deck tayo. Malaki na po 'yung problema natin, gaya ng sabi ni– gaya ng sabi kanina, the pandemic has only exacerbated all our education problems.

    Just to give you an idea: noong pandemic po we tried reaching out to DepEd because we were proposing when schools closed already. Ang proposal po sana namin noon, na sarudahan lang 'yung mga areas na mataas 'yung cases. Pero sobrang dami ng areas at the time in 2020, sobrang dami ng areas na wala namang COVID cases. 'Yung amin sanang proposal, buksan 'yung mga paaralan sa mga– sa mga lugar na 'yun para hindi nade-deprive 'yung ating mga estudyante ng edukasyon. Pero parang ang nangyari kasi, nag one size fits all 'yung DepEd which I think is wrong.

    We were suggesting not only to open the schools and the areas where there were no COVID cases in 2020 and low risk 'yung areas. Pero in areas na high risk, we were proposing that we open Community Learning Hubs, sana in partnership with DepEd so that we can reach more students. The idea of a community learning hub is there– there is a, you know, there is a place in a particular community where children can visit just in case they would need assistance from tutors, they would need gadgets, for those who do not have gadgets. Pero hindi po pumayag 'yung DepEd, hindi po pumayag 'yung DepEd sa mga Community Learning Hubs, but we still--we still pursued. So, nakapag pursue lang kami sa mga areas na open sa amin.

    We started with just a few, but now we have more than 150 Community Learning Hubs all over the country. And the results– we have been tracking and monitoring the results– and you know the results have been pretty amazing. We partnered with– we partnered with education NGOs, and the education NGOs were the ones training our volunteer tutors. And the volunteer tutors were the ones manning our Community Learning Hubs. Ang pinoprovide lang po namin doon, mga computers, all the school supplies that will be needed, 'yung mga education materials needed, we were the ones who recruited our volunteers, we were the ones who provided for their training, and kung hindi po namin 'yun ginawa, marami sanang bata 'yung hindi nakapag-aral in the manner that they need to.

    Pag tinignan natin 'yung datos ngayon, sinasabi na very damaging talaga 'yung closure ng schools sa edukasyon ng mga kabataan. Pero marami kaming nadiskubre as we were operating our Community Learning Hubs, and one of the scary things we discovered was there were a lot of, you know, grade 5 students, grade 6 students who still cannot read, mga non-readers. So, hindi namin alam kung papaano nakakarating sa grade 5, grade 6 na hindi nakakabasa. So, 'yung Jesse Robredo Foundation started a reading program. We rolled it up first in Mulanay, Quezon and General Luna, Quezon. And you know, the results have been pretty amazing. For such a very short period of time, hundreds and even thousands of school kids nakakabasa basta tinututukan lang.

    And the reason why I'm telling you this is that pag ang government saka ang private sector nag-bayanihan na mag-focus talaga sa learning– ano 'yun? Sa mga pagkukulang sa edukasyon, marami 'yung mangyayari. So, 'yun 'yung one. Pero ito, ano ba 'yung pinaka problema sa education? Dalawa, access saka quality of education. Pagdating sa access, at the Office of the Vice President, kaunti lang naman po 'yung resources namin pero we focused on areas where the drop-out rates of high school students are very high. Hinanap po namin, saan ba 'yung–saan ba 'yung mga matataas na drop-out rates ng high school students and we found them sa Siayan in Zamboanga del Norte. Ang Siayan is one of the poorest towns for so many years in the entire Philippines. Sa Sumilao sa Bukidnon, some areas in Negros Oriental, some areas in Eastern Samar. Ang ginawa po namin noon, when we triedto find out kung bakit napakataas ng drop-out rate, one of the reasons is that many students have to walk very far just to be able to go to school. On the average, 'yung manggagaling sa bukid– ang grade school kasi walang problema kasi maraming grade school, pero ang high school kaunti lang.

    So, doon sa mga areas na pinuntahan namin, students have to walk an average of three to four hours each way everyday just to go to school. So, ito talagang natitira na lang 'yung matibay kasi talagang– talagang 'yung sakripisyo everyday, wala naman silang pera, 'yung medyo may pera, nagbo-boarding house malapit sa high school, pero karamihan walang pera.

    So, what we did at the Office of the Vice President, under our Angat Buhay Program is we built dormitories inside public high schools in these areas. 'Yung mga dormitories na binuild namin, students can stay there for free. At dahil hindi ma-aaccomodate 'yung lahat, 'yung may priority sa amin 'yung mga pinaka mahihirap saka mga pinaka malalayong– pinaka malayong inuuwian. And you know, the results have been dramatic and it did not even cost us too much just to build dormitories. Naglagay kami ng mga computers, naglagay ng study area, students were comfortable, merong girls’ dorm, merong boys’ dorm. And you know, this is one of the things that we can do to give students access to education.

    So, napakarami. It's not just building schools, it's not just building classrooms, it's really finding out kung papaano mo matutulungan 'yung estudyante na mapapagaan 'yung kanyang dala-dala para makapag-aral siya. Marami pang kailangan gawin, halimbawa even before the pandemic, pag tinignan natin 'yung mga international education assessments, nasa bottom– nasa bottom rank tayo ng Science, ng Math, ng English na gustong sabihin, malaki na 'yung problema natin sa edukasyon.

    Marami 'yung dahilan kung bakit ito nangyayari, and kailangan talaga may multi-sectoral saka inter-agency na body na tinitingan: What are we doing wrong? Ito, mahaba siyang usapin, pero 'yung sa akin, maguumpisa siya sa titingnan natin 'yung budget. Pag tiningnan natin 'yung budget natin, ngayon yata nasa mga 3% of GDP 'yung ating budget sa education, eh 'yung international standards mga 6% of GDP. So, kalahati lang ng international standards 'yung ating inilalaan for education. Kailangan itong taasan.

    Pangalawa, nirereklamo quality of teachers pero marami 'yung dahilan kung bakit nagsa-suffer 'yung quality of teachers. We have been bombarding them with admin work na dapat sana ang nakatutok sila sa instruction. So dapat 'yung mga teachers i-deload natin with admin work, pa concentrate natin sila sa instruction, and not only that, bigyan sila ng trainings na kailangan nila. Ito, mahabang usapin 'yung competencies, titingnan natin, competitive ba 'yung mga salaries? Kanina minention, 'yung private schools nag-ooverregulate tayo. Nag-ooverregulate tayo na dapat sana tinitingnan natin 'yung privates schools na partner, partner ng pamahalaan.

    [crowd applause]

    Kasi as far as quality education is concerned, ang private schools ang may capacity. 'Yung private schools ay may capacity na isulong 'yung pagtaas ng kalidad ng edukasyon, pero what are we doing? We are over regulating them. Nadapat sana– Halimbawa, kailangan natin i-review 'yung voucher program parang masyadong limited ito, kailangan siyang i-expand para– para 'yung private schools nakakahabol.

    Pangalawa, 'yung reality hindi kinakaya ng private schools 'yung mga sweldo na binibigay ng public schools, so kailangan tingnan natin papaano makakasabay, papaano makakasabay 'yung private schools.

    Pangatlo, ano talaga, parang masyado tayong, hindi ko alam kung papaano– Baka si Brother Armin 'yung makakasabi noong term, pero parang masyado tayong nagfo-focus sa admin, sa admin work, pero hindi natin sinusukat masyado kung ano ba 'yung quality ng mga estudyante na pino-produce natin.

    I have been going around, and you know, meron kami mismong programa sa Office of the Vice President at the height of the pandemic. We wanted to help out. We wanted to help people find jobs. So we launched It's an online jobs matching program. At one point, 'yung available jobs sa amin, I'm not too sure if it was 27,000 o 29,000 jobs available. 'Yung nakakuha lang ng trabaho, 16,000.

    So, tinatanong namin: Bakit walang takers? Hindi sa walang takers, pero wala sa kanila 'yung skills na hinahanap. So, gustong sabihin, merong disconnect. Merong disconnect 'yung education system natin sa skills na kinakailangan. So, dapat nag-uusap sana 'yung academe saka 'yung industry, para sinu-suit niya. Sinu-suit niya 'yung curriculum, sinu-suit niya 'yung courses niya sa pangangailangan.

    Halimbawa, we have been dealing with the BPO industry, ang sinsabi ng BPO industry: Ang dami naming kinakailangan na tao pero kakaunti 'yung nagka-qualify dahil wala silang skills. So ito, gusto kong sabihin, ang dami pang puwedeng gawin ng education system natin para napo-provide natin 'yung kaalaman na hinahanap. Halimbawa, with the BPO industry, ano 'yung reklamo ng BPO industry? Ang tinuturo natin na mga computer skills, mga programs na ginagamit sa paaralan, ang tagal na nilang hindi ginagamit. Obsolete na 'yung mga programa pero 'yung pa din 'yung ating tinuturo. Parang for the sake siguro na makapag turo. So nagpo-produce tayo ng mga estudyante na 'yung skills nila, kulang na kulang sa pangangailangan. So, that's one.

    'Yung pangalawa, may programa din po kami ngayon na ang ginagawa namin 'yung mga out of school youth, tina-target namin para sa techbook training. We have a continuing program sa Veruela, Agusan Del Sur and Sumisip in Basilan, na dinadala namin 'yung mga out of school youth doon. Ang partner po namin dito 'yung Dualtech, I don't know if you've heard of Dualtech, pero it's a techvoc training program na two years ang program on a scholarship, after six months meron na silang paid internship.

    Ang laking bagay niya. Ang laking bagay niya kasi once the scholars graduate from the program, parang it is equivalent to one family whose lives are changed because of the employment of a member of the family. Pero hindi ko alam kung bakit hindi natin ito ginagawa as a regular program. Ang dami nating college graduates na walang trabaho, pero may mga trabahong available pero hindi nagko-connect 'yung trabahong available sa skills na pino-provide natin. So para sa akin, dapat sana mas maging creative 'yung mga courses natin.

    Meron tayong mga parang de kahon na courses. Meron tayong de kahon na courses na parang nahuhulog doon 'yung gusto ng mga estudyante dahil walang masyadong choices available, pero after graduation, either unemployed sila or underemployed. So, ito dapat tinitingnan na natin. We have the senior high school program already na ang laki ng opportunity. Ang laki ng opportunity for kids who cannot go to college anymore, kung hindi pa makakapuntang college, basta sinisiguro lang natin na equipped sila.

    So ito, I don't know if I'm making any sense pero ang dami kasing puwedeng gawin as far as education is concerned. Na una, kailangan mas maging creative 'yung policy ng pamahalaan. Pangalawa, dapat 'yung pamahalaan nagpo-provide siya ng platform and mechanism for the private sector to participate kasi hindi niya kayang sarili ito. Dapat sana 'yung private sector 'yung tumutulong sa kanya to shape policies para sabay silang ita-target kung ano 'yung mga pangangailangan natin sa education.

    I've been suggesting putting up Regional Excellence Centers para 'yung research and development will also be given, you know, the attention it deserves. Pero ili-link siya with the academe, para kung ano 'yung pangangailangan ng lugar, kung ano 'yung opportunities sa lugar, 'yun 'yung ine-enhance natin. Ngayon kasi– Again, while we have agriculture schools, hindi siya eksakto doon sa pangangailangan ng lugar. Halimbawa, another important opportunity is maritime industry na dapat sana tinitingnan na natin our senior high school programs, dapat available na sa kanya 'yung skills na kinakailangan ng industry o ng lugar. We have also been helping senior high school, [inaudible] high schools all over the Philippines. One of the things that we discovered is that kahit maganda 'yung programa, 'yung kakulangan din ng senior high schools, wala silang equipment para gawin 'yung mga programa.

    Halimbawa, we are helping two communities, one in Quezon and another one in Romblon. Meron silang culinary track, pero 'yung culinary, ang pagturo nila theoretical kasi wala silang gamit. So, we were able to find partners na makakapag-provide sa kanila ng gamit, and maswerte kami kasi 'yung partners nagso-scholar sila ng mga estudyante. Dinadala nila dito, ite-train nila para pagbalik sa mga lugar nila, merong transfer of technology.

    So, the only reason why I'm telling you this is that the program is there already, but the opportunities are not maximized. So, siguro hintayin ko na 'yung mga questions na itatanong, pero the only reason why I told you these things is to give you an overview of what we saw from our experience, 'yung mga problema ng ating education sector.

    [crowd applause]



    Posted in Transcripts on Apr 08, 2022