Carl E. Balita, EdD, RN, RM, LPT
Good day everyone! Greetings of peaceful, prosperous, and of course, healthy day to all of you, I’d like to congratulate the UST Alumni Association and this powerful committee behind the Academe, Alumni, Industry and Government collaboration project which brings together the four major pillars of the educational system to transform it towards a better normal, not just the new normal. And the National Multisectoral Summit for Educational Transformation with the theme, for this part, Towards A Robust Ecosystem For Transformative Education. I’m very happy to be here and hopefully, I represent the academe, I represent the alumni, I represent the industry as well, and hopefully soon I will be able to represent government somehow to make a difference further. I have prepared the slides for you and I always get invited to speak about transformational leadership. And whenever I get invited for this, I can’t help but present to them that the transformative leadership is all about change, and change could come to us through, first, through a revolution which would be very bloody highly resisted or we can use evolution which will probably take forever and that’s the result we may be able to witness beyond our lifetime. And of course, the most important of them all is the transformation, a transformation which is from within and looking at it in a holistic point of view. Educational transformation, I’d like to first quote the World Economic Forum, who in 2020, predicted that there are three ways that Covid-19 would reshape education. And the first prediction they made is that education will be nudged and pushed to change, and this could lead to surprising innovation. Indeed things will never be the same again and we’re looking forward to this surprising innovation. The second one is very important; they predict, the World Economic Forum, predicted that the public and private educational partnership could grow in an important stage of our transformation. And lastly, this is a little threatening because this is where they predicted that the digital divide could actually widen. And furthermore, they predicted that the less affluent and digitally savvy individual’s families are, the further their students are left behind when classes transition online, these children lose out because of the cost of digital devices and data plan. And this is actually happening, the digital divide is felt already. And there’s a warning, or there is a an insight that, unless access costs decrease and quality of access increase in all countries, the gap of education or educational quality and that socioeconomic equality will be further exacerbated.
The digital divide, according to them, could become more extreme if educational access is dictated by access to the latest technology. I’d like to quote this because I’d like to begin with how they see it from that side of the world from a macro level. And there’s also some insights coming from UNESCO, and I like to present it to you in the education in the post-Covid world. There, they presented nine ideas for public action which could actually trigger the appreciation of that ecosystem we’re talking about. The nine ideas, it begins with number one: commit to strengthen education as a common good. And that’s why this becomes a common good that only of government and government agencies are related to education but also industry like what I represent from the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The second is, expand the definition of the right to education so that it addresses the importance of connectivity and access to knowledge and information. There’s no problem with availability, but the problem really is the access and the connectivity. Value the teaching profession and teacher collaboration, it puts the teacher in the center stage once more. Number four, promotes student youth and children’s participation and rights. And number five; protect the social spaces provided by school as we transform education. There’s that social space being mentioned by the UNESCO. Another one is to make free and open source technologies available to teachers and students. There is an emphasis for free and open source technologies. This is really what’s happening right now, the Industry 4.0 which initially served as the biggest threat of a disruption, prior to the pandemic disruption, already made available free and open source technologies. It’s just a matter of the teachers and the students optimizing its use. Number seven in ensure scientific literacy within the curriculum, because the health condition brought about by this pandemic and the vaccinology and all those approaches we’re having, would really challenge our science literacy, and mind you, this is not going to be the last pandemic that we maybe may witness in fact. Protect domestic and international financing of public education. I’ll talk more about this in a little while. And of course lastly, is advance global solidarity to end the current level of inequality. And which is why this AAIG summit or collaboration is very ideal because this is trying to build the solidarity so that we can end the inequality.
The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) launched a task force; we call it the Education Task Force (ETF). And this was, because in 2020, in October 2020, I wrote in my column in the Business Mirror, I challenge the business sector and explained why business sector should push for EdCom 4.0. At the time I thought we would still have time for the private sector to initiate or to call or to pressure the government to engage in EdCom 4.0, this happened in 2020. If you would like to look into this article, you may want to research Business Mirror Carl Balita and put EdCom, and this article would appear. I would have narrated here, I mean I narrated here the constitutional basis of education, the budget we’re giving education and some, you know, performances of our students in international tests which I don’t want to talk about anymore, because the business sector then, in April 28, 2021 called and launched the ETF. As you may see, we have the likes of Nilo Rosas, we have the likes of Ma’am Irene (Isaac) from TESDA, the president of Philippine Normal University Dr. (Bert) Tuga, and many others, of course under the leadership of Dr. (Alberto) Fenix who was also your speaker in one of the AAIG sessions we had.
Now in April 28, 2021 we launched this and for the past months we have been coming up with recommendations for innovations in Philippine education. And we looked into the quality model of the structure, the process and the outcome. I’m a quality practitioner, my company being an ISO certified company. I created this framework so that we can look into the structure, the processes and the outcomes of education. And here is why where the areas of development were defined. Of course the outcomes would look into the Philippine qualifications and the learning outcomes; the process would look into the curriculum and instruction and the competencies of teachers and educational leaders; and lastly of course the structure would like to look into institutional and policy reforms in education. I presented this, of course creatively; I created it as such that we will develop the PCCI framework in what we see as the Task Force Education Development Model. Alright, it looks into first the Philippine qualification and the learning outcomes, the curriculum and instruction, the competencies of teachers and educational leaders, and institutional policies for reform. And we looked into who is a learned, trained and educated Filipino on that side, for the future, the country and the world. Then after that, what to teach and how to teach learner in the learning environments became the challenge of the curriculum and instruction. And who will teach and lead learning, that’s on the third quadrant that we call. And lastly, the Educational System, so that we see it in a whole ecosystem.
Today, I’ll be presenting some of the recommendations; some of them are my own legislative agenda. As you may have known, much as you may have heard, I’m taking this courage to stand up for education for health and for micro business and I’m running for the Senate, and I’ll be presenting to you some of my legislative agenda. First of all, on the outcome, learning to learn became a challenge and managing one’s own learning becomes a must, must be a basic competence. The WHO, I mean, the UNESCO gave us the learning to know, learning to do, learning to be, and learning to live together. But eventually the learning to learn became a very basic competence and the ability of the person to manage own learning becomes an important element. Here is where the lifelong learning is born and the philosophy or the wish of every Filipino families na makatapos should be translated and should be transformed into continuous learning. You know, I would always be very concerned when professionals themselves right now would propose that I, if ever I win, I should abolish the CPD. Of course, as a responsible professional my response would always be, continuing professional development is our responsibility, we just have to look into some systems to consider formal, non-formal and informal sources so that, I think the only problem they have of the CPD, for example, is the cost. And this is why they want to give up on the lifelong learning challenge of being a professional because it becomes too costly. So it’s really a matter of creativity and innovation to make it happen. Now this is according to Mckinsey, who conducted a study, there is a new set of foundational skills and these are the following: the first one is a person in the future. for the future. should be able to add value beyond automated systems and intelligent machines. Also, everyone in the future should be able to operate in a digital environment. And lastly, that the person of the future should be able to continually adopt to new ways of working and to new occupations. We will soon be working in industries that are not known to us now, and we are not educating our students our learners for the present but we’re educating them for the future which is a VUCA world, you know. I mean, currently this is already a VUCA world and the future is even a VUCAH with an “H”. VUCA is, we all know about it probably, it’s the volatility, it’s the uncertainty, complexity and the ambiguity. And there is an added letter which is ”H”, hostile, according to how we have experienced this pandemic. But as you know, as a positive mindset educator and advocate, I don’t want to see, I don’t want to remember VUCA for those translation. But I want, if indeed there is volatility, don’t you think that we should focus on the vision. If you really think that the world is full of uncertainty, don’t you think that we should, you know, endeavor to understand, to understanding? If indeed the world is so complex, don’t you think that we should be challenged to find its clarity? And if indeed the world is ambiguous, don’t you think that we should endeavor for agility? And the magic word in agility is actually collaboration. And isn’t it that if the world is really hostile now, then don’t you think that we should anchor ourselves to our humanity? So I’m proposing a different meaning for VUCA and a different new set of foundational skills that even Toffler said that the literacy of the future is not our ability to read and write, but our ability to learn, relearn and unlearn. Now, the 56 deltas across 13 skills group and four categories are identified, were identified already by Mckinsey related to this research which considered, you know, the industry input into what kind of competencies of people are we look looking in the future, looking for in the future. And cognitive is not memory anymore but it’s critical thinking, it’s planning and ways of working, it’s mental flexibility, it’s communication on the cognitive level. On the interpersonal level, this is mobilizing systems thinking, developing relationships and teamwork and effectiveness. And about self-leadership, it’s about me, it’s my ability to manage myself; it’s self-leadership which is anchored in self-awareness and self-management; entrepreneurship, which is my favorite; and goal achievement. And lastly, in the fourth quadrant you would find a fourth category, you could find here, a digital competency, it’s the digital fluency and citizenship. There is such a thing as digital citizenship. Software use and development, it’s your ability to use and develop and understanding the digital systems. The IQ that shifted to the EQ that shifted to the AQ and shifted to the SQ has now shifted into the DQ or digital intelligence. Now also, putting the spotlight on the most important person which is the teacher, of course, we have to realize that our teachers went through a pre-service, then when they get employed, into an in-service, to develop the quality teacher that they could be. But let’s take a look at some PRC report and see how it works. You know, technology will never replace a great teacher. And therefore, improving quality, teacher quality becomes of supreme importance for long-term and sustainable nation building; nation building one teacher at a time and in the classroom one learner at a time.
Now if we would look at our current scenario, there are one million teachers, about 800,000 in the public education system and 24 million learners and growing. So this shows to us that there will be a gap or a higher demand for teachers even as we go into the digital or blended or flexible or omni models of learning. I’d like to present to you, that in other countries, board exams are not given any more, like Hong Kong, japan, Korea Netherlands and Singapore. As you would see the second green circle there, certification is low or no stake anymore for them. But take a look at what is also in secret, that the left side, is their very high stake on entry of teacher education program. So they may have no board exam but they have very strict admission and retention. Now if we’re looking into this for the future, I think we really have to reinvent our in-service, I’m sorry, our pre-service teacher education. And look at this board examinees in the PRC, in 2018 prior to the onset of the pandemic, there were total of 353,000 takers followed by criminology, followed by nursing, civil engineering and accountancy. Okay this is the 2018 report, so it’s one third of a million people taking the left, and as you may wanna see it, in the general, among all those who took the board exam, the average passing is 38.7%. And if you would see, the passing history of the licensure exam for teachers, the blue lines represents the number of takers and the orange line represents the passer. And I’d like to tell you, that the average, as you can see, that the passing rate is rather really low. And if I may just zoom into it, okay, the most recent is 36, there was even a time that there was 19% passing and the highest recorded over the past how many years was actually 37.7%. So therefore, even as we have a rich supply of teachers, we would note that only about 35 or 30 something percent of them will make it in the board, about three to four out of all those who take will actually get the license. And that the DepEd of course would have a very beautiful process of hiring of and of retaining. They have a criteria, but the ETF made an observation that the criteria for ranking, some are rather highly subjective rather than objective and that also needs to be revisited so that we can really get the best teacher teachers. I have no doubt that there is a good supply of teachers, but we were wondering why out of the total teaching positions of 847,000, there is a 41,000 unfilled positions, this is as of April 2020. If indeed there is a good supply of teachers, why should there be a 41,000 unfilled position at that point. Maybe they aren’t coming or maybe they’ll get there soon but the point is, this attributes to, there’s an implication here, if this remain unfilled, of course there will be a higher teacher learner ratio, number one. And number two, because of the lack of other personnel, there is a possibility that the teacher will be doing the administrative jobs rather than just the teaching jobs. There will always be an implication. So if indeed the positions are available anyway, the recommendation will be to maximize and optimize these plantilla positions. Now are the teachers happy? Generally in the world, the teachers’ motivating factor is the teacher autonomy, their ability to do what they need to do on their own as professional: the professional factors, the working environment, the intrinsic value of becoming a teacher, and the extrinsic value that they get for the image that they make out of the teachers. Okay I also did the study, and it’s not in this presentation, but we made a study that many of us wanted to become teachers when we were young, but change it as we get older. But those who took up education, at least 70 to 80 percent of them did not regret that they took up education and they pursued their dream to become teachers. Okay the working environment, however, could be a demotivating factor and the teacher autonomy can also be a demotivating factor as well as the student attitude is found out to be, by research, to be demotivating. And this is something that I want to take very serious discussion. Take note that a teacher gets salary grade 11, and in 2019, there is, sorry the other one is 2023 the last one, so it will be given in four tranches. Currently, 2021, their salary is the entry salary of teachers is 23,800 it becomes 27,000 in 2023. Okay now teachers studied for four years, they took the board exam and then that’s where they land. The point here is, how will we be able to attract the best and the brightest if the public knows that the teachers are not paid well? For a professional to be getting this amount on a monthly basis, you would know that probably they’d rather they’d rather sell, you know, fish ball, because the fish ball vendor will probably earn more. Okay but to compare this with nurses; nurses struggled so long, the second picture indicates to you the salary of nurses in 2020, in 2021, 2022 and 2023, because nurses are getting salary grade 15. And of course this is not covered by the salary standardization law, but the policemen are getting 29,600 pesos. Probably this explains why there are more people who want to be policemen or nurses rather than become teachers. So unless we do something to attract the best and the brightest but the kind of life that they’ll get out of the profession, maybe it will not be able to really attract them to the profession. I also would like to present to you that assuming the salary now is 24,500 for teachers, in Thailand, Filipino teachers getting 30,000 pesos at least that’s why there are so many Filipinos who are going to Thailand. And again to compare the 24,000 salary of teachers in the Philippines, I’d like to compare it with domestic helper in Hong Kong who are receiving 37,000 pesos including their meal allowance, and of course without the pressure of having to, you know, to go to put on a makeup, to wear their uniform and so on. This explains to us, why many of the graduate of education would be found to be domestic helpers in Hong Kong, for some economic and practical reasons.
Well, one of the good things that happened in our ecosystem of education to transform it is the Philippine Qualifications Framework (PQF) which is our response to the Asean Qualification Reference Framework (AQRF) related to the mutual recognition arrangement. But you know, this was reviewed recently by the World Bank in 2021 and 2022. Just recently, they, realized that the activities of the Philippine qualification council and the working groups related to it have not been fully functional yet. In fact the composition is not yet finalized, and you will agree with me, the public awareness of PQF is very low and it is not something that they have presented to the private sector especially to that sector that will recognize, that who would recognize the levels or the qualification which is actually the business sector or the employment sector. And there is a limited alignment and revision of existing curricula and qualification standards. So this is a big work in progress because this actually gives us a snapshot of that ecosystem from basic education to technical education and skills development and the higher education. You would also notice here that there’s a question if indeed the grade 12 is part of the levels in the PQF. And you would notice that the lines are always upward, it does not consider the horizontal integration of qualification. And the challenges therefore is that the PQF descriptors have by-three domains in a progress uniformly across all levels and there is lack of clarity in the newly added senior high school TVL track in the PQF level, the tech-voc track which was the intention of the entrepreneurial exit in the k-12 and that employability concept of the k-12. And the credit transfer system based on clear standards and qualification really needs to be considered strongly, and the usefulness of PQF has not been presented to the private sector yet. These are some observations and that’s why one of the thing for us is to recognize that the learning outcomes based education will really have to be, not only talked about or you know learned about, but really it has to be something that we execute, the learning outcomes being the metrics of referencing to the AQRF. They are the fundamentals and the levels assigned to them. The thing is, unless we are authentic in our being outcomes-based in our education, then we’re losing the chance to even talk about the metrics of the referencing. And that’s why our proposal in the Educational Task Force is there should be a common OBE workshop for the technical experts of TESDA, CHED and even the regulatory boards, because we have noticed that lot of our graduates failed the board exam not because they did not learn but because there’s some gap with the competencies that were developed out of the tertiary education to the professional standards dictated by the future employers or the regulatory boards. So there has to be some alignment and this is our proposal. There is also, you might want to pursue and appreciate more developing credit transfer system which should support lifelong learning should the outcomes-based learner-centered quality assured, which is also very important, and that which supports in this institutional autonomy, supports academic freedom and would promote cooperation. We should zoom in to the Philippine credit transfer system if we really want the qualifications framework to work so that our professionals would be would have a better alignment with the rest of the world. There is a need to optimize the Republic Act 11230 which is the Tulong Trabaho which actually establishes the Philippine labor force and competencies competitiveness program and the Tulong Trabaho fund. This is beautiful because this applies to those who are not employed or not in education or training but wants to improve their competencies. And this is where the ecosystem really works. Those who are working, who are already employed but may need additional skills and competencies, may go back to school or might go back to training and continue in the pursuit of their lifelong learning skills, I mean lifelong learning responsibility and they become more capable of and productive.
I’d like to present a concept of the Individual Learning Accounts which may have been adopted overseas but this provides for funds made available to individuals to purchase training. The beauty of this is, it will be a demand-led approach and therefore this supports the training relevance and responsiveness for the employee, for example, because this is a fund which will be accessed so that the person improves with what he or she does, and this is the Individual Learning Accounts. This is something we want to pursue. I’m looking at how it can be integrated into some of the existing policies or create even policies in the future. I would like to propose, I mixed it up with my own and with that of the ETF, some legislative agenda that I look forward into pushing and advocating. The first one is the Law Institutionalizing the Nutrition and Feeding Program. As a health professional that I am, by the way I’m a nurse, I’m a midwife, I’m a licensed professional teacher and doctor of humanities and doctor of education, I become very concerned about kahit pa anong ganda ng curriculum mo at kahit anong galing ng guro mo, kung gutom ang batang tinuturuan mo ay malamang wala siyang matututunan. So this is where we can actually engage the PTCS, the local government, being part of the school board and some NGOs and the business sector but it has to be institutionalized. And there should be a fund for this and that fund should access the locally produced agricultural products for the nutrition of the under nourish or maybe even all the children from grade one to grade three, the formative years. This is important because this will also prime up the agricultural sector of the area. So it’s bringing the funds so that the agricultural sector could benefit and in the end the children move out of malnutrition. Of course, the Teacher Salary Protection Act, this should limit the market distortion because they always compare the salary of the public and the private, the public being able to pay more than the private school and that’s why some of the teachers in the private schools are now moving to public school, which is not a good idea. And that’s why there should be a regional average and there should be some sort of a measure so that a subsidy may be provided to reduce the gap between the two sectors. And this is related to another legislation that I’m intending to offer, and that is the first, is a Law Creating a Targeted Portable Educational Subsidy. This is where, you know I don’t want to use the word voucher because the voucher has been burned in our system, but it’s a portable educational subsidy where a student in anywhere may get that subsidy to be able to transfer and access the course that they want from other educational institutions, be it in basic education or in in higher education. But it has to be portable, something you can carry from being in a state university, state college or government school to private school. In doing so, there will be greater equality and inclusion. And this follows the concept of funding follows the student concept, where the fund follows the student instead of the student finds the fund. In this way, you’ll be able also to help the private school survive. Of course there should be a law defining and operationalizing the complementarity in public and private education. Even in our Constitution, this specific article and section provides that the private and public education should complement each other, but in reality they’re actually competing. But we have to strengthen the one- system- two-sector. In other words it’s not competition but coop-petition so it can be designed as that. I will also be proposing a Law Establishing an AI-driven Labor Market and Human Capital Development Observatory so that as parents, as teachers, as policy makers, even as student, as regulators or as employer, we will be able to see what will be the current demand and what will be the future demand so that we don’t make oversupply in one area. And it’s easy to do now because of artificial intelligence that’s available for us. And the Law Upholding the Academic Freedom of Students through Free Parental Choice of Education, I mean if academic freedom is given to institutions and teachers, I think academic freedom may also be given to the parents and the students so that they can pursue their course. And I think lastly, we have to have a Law to Incentivize Education as a Social and Economic Driver. Because unless we see education as a social and economic driver, we will not be able to invest well on it and we may not see its economic value. For example, if a student gets the portable subsidy and that student uses it to pay for a private school education, that private school will be able to pay their teachers, that teacher will be able to have a quality of life and that money revolves around the economy, it becomes active. The school will be able to build infrastructure or purchase technology and that will also fuel the economy. So it’s you really using government’s money so that it revolves around the economy. And this is gonna be a fund where the community is a part of the development of the educational sector. These are agenda that I’m laying out on the ground, these are just initial because there’s still an ongoing consultation I’m doing with the teachers group, the private schools group, the learners group, the parents group and others. As you know, as I navigate this quote-unquote campaign which intention is not only to convince people to vote but also to talk to people so that we can make a difference. I took this road, this they say noisy and magulong world of politics because I felt duty-bound to contribute to how we could change the way they’re running government. So unless we make our feet wet right there, we may not be able to achieve a lot. And I stand by the Thomasian spirit that if everybody’s seated you may need to stand up, and if everybody’s standing up, you might want to stand out, if everybody has stood out, maybe you want to be the standout or if everyone is already the standout, maybe you want to be outstanding. Behind me is my medal, as Outstanding Thomasian Alumni and I commit to live up to the faith, hope and love. And imbued with an ending grace, I will always carry the torch of UST. And what I’ve learned in UST will become my moral compass to serve and to make other people’s lives better. So I am making this stand and the magic word is really to make a stand. Thank you so much and congratulations to the UST Alumni Association, to the committee that staged this AAIG. Mabuhay po tayong lahat. God bless you all. Thank you.