Commentary: Colleges courses and market demands
By Renee F. De Guzman
San Fernando City, La Union (5 February) -- As part of Government's move to fight poverty by raising the quality of Filipino workforce through a relevant and high-quality educational system, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo urged the nation's colleges and universities to redesign their courses curricula to the demand of the market.
"We ask colleges and universities to update themselves about the current demands in the local and international market, and to offer courses fitting their graduates to the skills requirements of available jobs, the President said in her keynote speech address during the opening of the First Bennial Education Congress (FEBC) held recently.
The President initiated the holding of the education congress to draw up plan and to undertake immediate steps to cure the ails of Philippine educational system.
"Believing that education is a core value of Philippine society and family life" and the very "foundation of economic prosperity and individual liberty, justice and self-worth", the President said she had issued Executive Order No. 652 creating the Presidential Task Force for Education (PTFE) to assess, plan and monitor the entire educational system.
The Department of Labor and Employment recently reported that there are at least one-million Filipino graduates and undergraduates unemployed.
The unemployment problem persists in the Philippines not because of lack of employment opportunities, but due to the shortage of skilled workers for available job openings.
There is a mismatch between the number of available jobs and the number of job seekers as graduates don't have the right skills as they were not trained for the available jobs.
The government is moving to raise the quality of Filipino workforce through better education to be able to compete in the tight labor market and match requirements of employers here and abroad.
To upgrade the country's educational system, the government has allocated billions of pesos to education, including P1billion for skills-development and another P1 billion for teacher training.
The government also continues to invest in the construction of new school buildings and scholarship programs for high school and college students.
The administration has hired a total of some 65,000 new teachers from 2007 to 2007 - 15,000 of them in 2001, and more than 50,000 between 2002 and 2007.
As of 2006, a total of 100,000 teachers has also been trained in Math and Science. The President has also set aside P1billion for the in-service trainings of teachers for this year.
Particular attention is being given to training a new generation of teachers who did not grew up speaking English, but "Taglish".
At the college level, courses curricula are being redesigned to ensure that our graduates have the right skills for the available jobs to be able to fill them.
The government also pushes the ladderized education program whereby students of technical - vocational courses can earn credits that may be applied to college degree programs, and vice-versa.
These initiatives are encapsulated in the 2004 - 2010 Medium Term Development Plan (MTPDP). (PIA La Union) [top]