PGMA cites schools' role in strengthening Philippine economy
Manila (19 May) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo cited this afternoon the significant role the academic community, particularly the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has played in strengthening the Philippine economy.
In her speech keynoting the commission's 16th anniversary held at its headquarters in Diliman, Quezon City this afternoon, the President said the partnership between the government and CHED has resulted in numerous benefits which redound to the people in the form of better delivery of services and quality education for all.
"During my administration, CHED helped me change the Philippine economy significantly and for the better. With the support of CHED and the academic community, the Philippine economy today is far stronger than it was nine years ago," the President said.
"We are now on a path of sustainable growth after 37 unprecedentedly consecutive quarters of growth. We have created millions of jobs that help keep some of our brightest workers here at home and we have resources to invest in better healthcare and education," she added.
The President pointed out that these were made possible through "tough and unpopular" implementation of new taxes "which we reinvested in our people through expanded and improved education, social services, infrastructure and salary increases."
"Education must be at the center of any government development platform. In that regard, we have invested in an education budget that is more than P200 billion this year compared to less than P100 billion when we started nine years ago. So we have more than doubled our budget in the last nine years," the President said.
Because of the budget increase, CHED has been able to provide college and post-graduate education for over 600,000 scholars including those in the fields of science, technology and engineering.
The President further pointed out that CHED has grown in scope, holding jurisdiction over almost 2,000 higher education institutions (HEIs), 89 percent (over 1,500) of which are private schools, plus 109 state universities and colleges (SUCs), 81 local HEIs and 16 other specialized schools.
"Your policies influence the fields of study and the lives of almost three million students, 600,000 of which over the years have been scholars," the President said.
However, the President acknowledged that despite having "succeeded on our part to pave the way and build a stronger foundation for sustainable growth, we still have a long way to go."
The President pointed out the importance of working towards achieving a main education highway towards a knowledge-based economy that will result in a seamless education from pre-school to the tertiary level.
The President also talked about recommendations to improve consultations among the academe and industry and business leaders to determine new skills needs for present and future manpower.
"The main objective of these consultations is to make the skills of our college graduates more relevant to the jobs with high demand, therefore closing the jobs-skills gap and improving the employability of the graduates," the President said.
"We want a seamless educational highway towards a knowledge-based economy because we are in the knowledge century and I desire to see a brighter future for the hardworking men and women of this nation. I have an abiding interest in seeing your clients and mine, in other words the students of higher education, will come into their own, seize the value of modernity and education and use these tools to advance themselves and the nation," she added. (PIA) [top]