education in the Philippines

Robredo blames unemployment woes despite job vacancies on ‘education crisis’

Herbie Gomez

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Robredo blames unemployment woes despite job vacancies on ‘education crisis’

LENI'S POINT. Presidential bet Vice President Leni Robredo hammers home a point during a town hall meeting at the Father Saturnino Urios University in Butuan City on Wednesday afternoon, March 9.

Froilan Gallardo/Rappler

Vice President Leni Robredo says one of the first things she would do if she succeeds in her presidential bid is to declare an 'education crisis'

BUTUAN CITY, Philippines – Presidential bet Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday, March 9, sounded alarm bells over the state of the country’s education system, blaming it for the failure of many Filipinos to find work despite job vacancies.

Robredo said one of the first things she would do if she succeeds in her bid for the presidency is to declare an “education crisis.”

“Sobrang sama ng performance natin sa lahat na international assessments. Sa Science, sa Math, sa Reading, panghuli po tayo. Kailangan na natin ‘yung baguhin,” Robredo told a town hall meeting at the Father Saturnino Urios University in Butuan City.

(Our performance is so poor in all international assessments. We’re the last in Science, Math, and Reading. We need to make changes.)

She blamed the deterioration of the quality of education on the government’s failure to prioritize it. That, she said, contributed to the worsening problem of joblessness in the country.

Robredo said that while unemployment rate has soared, job vacancies continue to rise in various industries such as the business process outsourcing-information technology (BPO-IT) sector.

“Ang daming trabahong available pero walang qualified (There are plenty of jobs available but no one is qualified),” she said.

Robredo said that for every 100 job applicants, only one gets hired because “‘yung skills na hinahanap nila wala doon sa nag a-apply (most of the applicants don’t possess the skills the employers are looking for).”

For Robredo, there is a disconnect between the courses in the curricula and the jobs available, a concern that underscores the need for academics and industry players to stage a dialogue so that schools would produce the kind of students and graduates needed by industries.

She also said the government needs to spend more on education given that only 3% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) is being spent on it. She said the United Nations (UN) has recommended 6% of the GDP.

The education budget should be doubled, with government making sure that the funds are properly used, Robredo said.

The Department of Education (DepEd) should also see to it that teachers focus on their teaching tasks only, and not be distracted by administrative matters, she said.

Training for teachers should be upgraded, too, so that they can produce excellent students, according to Robredo.

“Our education should be on course. Let’s invest in it so that we can attract the best and the brightest. The level of capacities now has reached crisis level,” she said. 

WAVE. Presidential bet Vice President Leni Robredo waves at supporters as she and her running mate Senator Francis Pangilinan arrive for a town hall meeting at the Father Saturnino Urios University in Butuan City on Wednesday afternoon, March 9. (Froilan Gallardo/Rappler)

Robredo said this in response to John Elbo, the president of Caraga State University’s student council, who deplored the lack of critical thinking in public discourses on nation-building.

Elbo said he was worried because many citizens, particularly those between the ages of 18 to 41, have fallen easily to black propaganda and attempts to distort history. The student leader attributed the problem to teaching methods that require students to just memorize dates, figures, and names rather than on making sure they have a clear grasp of the subjects.

“That is very sad (and shows why) propaganda and attempts [at] historical revisionism are really rampant in our country. I think oras na para ihinto ang mga panlilinlang na ito (I think it’s time that we put a stop to the deception),” said Elbo even as he asked Robredo about how she would introduce reforms and improve education in the country if she succeeds in her presidential campaign. 

Robredo said the campaign against disinformation would not be a walk in the park, especially on social media where algorithms are used to saturate distribution channels, particularly during the election period.

“Kailangan talaga tao sa tao… sisiguraduhin natin na ‘yung recipients ng disinformation nakakausap natin, tao sa tao, para napapaliwanagan sila. Mahirap ito pero hindi imposible,” she said.

(It needs a person-to-person approach. We need to make sure that we talk to the recipients of disinformation so that we can explain things to them clearly. This is difficult, but not impossible.)

Robredo said this explains why she and her group have been meeting with religious leaders and groups, asking them to help in efforts to counter disinformation “because they have the machinery in their parishes.” –

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Herbie Gomez

Herbie Salvosa Gomez is coordinator of Rappler’s bureau in Mindanao, where he has practiced journalism for over three decades. He writes a column called “Pastilan,” after a familiar expression in Cagayan de Oro, tackling issues in the Southern Philippines.