Issue of January 5, 2020
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Prioritizing basic education urged
by Press release

Keeping up with the demands of the new globalization involves ensuring that Filipinos are equipped with the necessary skills as early as possible.

In a speech delivered during the 5th Annual Public Policy Conference conducted by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for International Economic Relations Lourdes Yparraguirre said one of the present administration’s key areas for policy action is the enhancement of human resources in the country.

“The president said we should focus more on investing in human capital development through the enhancement of our basic education system and skills matching to seamlessly converge with the requirements of our businesses and the demands in our labor markets,” Yparraguirre said.

With new technologies continuously developing, she suggested that enhancements in basic education be complemented with the promotion of science and technology and research to spur innovation.

Institute of Corporate Directors President Alfredo Pascual expressed a similar sentiment.

“In concept, K to 12 is supposed to produce employable graduates, but industry people have yet to see the proof of the concept,” Pasciual said when asked whether the private sector is willing to hire graduates of the government’s K to 12 program.

While businesses in the country are urged to start revising their job descriptions to accommodate senior high school (SHS) graduates, Pascual said there is a slow uptake because of their experience with SHS graduates.

“The more expensive high schools that train students very well produce students who eventually go to college. These are students who will not seek employment after high school. The ones who will seek employment after high school are those coming from less-endowed schools. They are not planning to go to college because of financial and other reasons. Their employability is difficult under the present situation,” Pascual explained.

“That is why I’m opposed to this universal free tuition at the tertiary level because that money should have been used to improve basic education in the country, rather than spend it on college students from families who can well afford to pay the tuition,” Pascual added.

A recent study published by PIDS, which looked at the labor market prospects for SHS graduates, revealed that students are more inclined to pursue higher education. They also lack confidence in getting a job after graduation and believe that firms still prefer college graduates or those with work experience.

Meanwhile, firms that were interviewed expressed “the need to be exposed to the SHS graduates before they can be confident in hiring them.”

Started in 2015, the APPC is the culminating activity of the Development Policy Research Month, a nationwide celebration every September to highlight the importance of research evidence in policy and decision making in the country.

This year’s conference carried the theme “Navigating the new globalization: Local actions for global challenges.” It was organized by PIDS in partnership with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Department of the Interior and Local Government, National Economic and Development Authority, Department of Foreign Affairs, Philippine Competition Commission, Department of Trade and Industry, and Asian Development Bank.

It was attended by over 400 representatives from the government, private sector, academe, and civil society.

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