MANILA, Philippines – Groups of young people and educators criticized Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairperson Patricia Licuanan for urging students to take vocational courses instead of going to college.
Licuanan had said she wanted to change the mindset of Filipinos who want to pursue a college diploma
In a statement on Monday, November 7, the Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (Spark) said the CHED chief’s statement was “irresponsible and limiting the aspirations of the youth.”
“Albeit the huge disparity in material well-being, we ought to have equal rights to receive free and quality education. But Licuanan, instead of buttressing this, is fundamentally proclaiming that tertiary education is not for everyone, as if she is the ultimate authority in determining who’s fit to receive a diploma or not,” said Clarissa Villegas of Spark.
Villegas also said that it is “alarming for a state official to deliberately endorse for certain individuals the substitution of college diplomas with vocational courses.”
Meanwhile, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers-Philippines’s national chairman, Benjie Valbuena, said that K to 12’s direction is really “labor export policy and cheap labor to answer the needs of multinational companies.” (READ: Debunking K to 12 myths)
He also said that Licuanan’s statement is not helping the country.
“This is just a preservation, if not perpetuation, of a neo-liberal policy of the government. Wala itong matutulong sa estudyante, lalo na sa ating bansa. Trabaho ito sa labas, hindi sa Pilipinas,” Valbuena said in a text message to Rappler. (It doesn’t help the students, especially the country. This will serve job [requirements] outside, not in the Philippines.)
The K to 12 program, which added two more years to basic education, provides students with different tracks to pursue, among them the technical-vocational-livelihood (TVL) track. This is seen to boost the country’s employment.
According to Villegas, the pool of billions of uneducated workforce makes the Philippines “paradoxically globally competitive.” He said “skilled but illiterate and discounted workers will only propel the youth toward a vulnerable platform of exploitation and misery in this period of global economic integration.”
“You can only master a trade so much, but as long as you depend on an employer who consistently retrenches you, in materiality there is no upward mobility. Here, Licuanan’s twisted logic restricts the very purpose of education – vocational or professional, solely for employment gains,” Villegas said.
She added: “Tesda courses might provide short-run employment now, but in the long run you cannot surmount so much of the structural limitations present in our society. You cannot beat chronic poverty with a Tesda certificate. Why make us settle for less? We’re not levelling any playing field by treating vocational education and tertiary education as equals.” – Rappler.com
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