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Educating the people, the nation’s treasure

Article - July 20, 2011
With a long running educational tradition, for the Philippines supplying adequate resources for the educational system behind the quality of its workforce is essential
The Philippines is made up of a well-educated population that has traditionally put much emphasis on formal schooling; however, Dr. Patricia Licuanan, chairwoman of the Commission of Higher Education (CHED) believes in a more practical approach for the country and is not pressing the need for higher education for all Filipinos.

“There has to be a shift in attitude so that we also respect and value technical and vocational education,” says Ms. Licuanan. “We are too white collar in our attitude. For the Millennium Development Goals, basic education is necessary.”

CHED recognizes that the need for basic education is greater than that of higher education, and plans to use instruction, research and extension, to combat poverty with community and social development oriented approaches. She stresses that R&D is important for developing innovations that can change the quality of life for communities.

“For instruction it may not be as clear but there are programs in higher education that cater to developing the lower sectors in society,” says Ms. Licuanan. “Not enough of our young people enter agriculture anymore and there is certainly not enough that go into science and technology. These are necessary and we think higher education does have a role.”

She aims to clean up corruption and improve technology and service quality to make CHED a more effective component in the government machine. “This is really our challenge for higher education: to work with the really good basic ingredients we have and just straighten up the parts that need it and bring in some technology inputs in strategic areas that we aim to develop,” she says.

CHED is looking beyond Filipino borders to aid in development by focusing on the inclusion of successful people abroad to start projects and become mentors. She aims to show the world the potential of the country as it takes steps to achieve a noticeable amount of change.

“I’d like them to see the Philippines truly as an exciting and positive place to be for foreigners and Filipinos,” says CHED’s chairwoman. “I may be biased but Filipinos are very creative and intelligent people and once we set our minds to something we can achieve so much.”