PBEd Chairperson, Ramon R. del Rosario, Jr. shares his thoughts on K-12 at the LCF-CSR Expo 2011

Last July 21, 2011 during the League of Corporate Foundations CSR Expo 2011, PBEd Chairperson Ramon R. del Rosario, Jr. served as part of a panel to give his reaction on the K-12 Program’s possible impact on the business sector:

REACTION STATEMENT OF MR. RAMON R. DEL ROSARIO JR
K to 12: K Ba? Basic Education at a Crossroad – LCF Annual CSR Expo
21 July 2011

I speak to you to today both as a business person and an education reform advocate. This move to increase the years of basic education in order to decongest and enhance the curriculum has been an advocacy of the business sector for a long time now. Now that that this has become a policy of President Aquino and has in fact been rolled out this school year, we remain committed to its aspirations and more so to its successful implementation.

Proof of such commitment is the Memorandum of Agreement that we have entered into with the Department of Education. In the MOA that we signed, Philippine Business for Education, its trustees and members, are bound to employ graduates of the K to 12 reformed system. This is on the assumption that the reformed curriculum produces graduates that are globally competitive, ready for work and/or further education in college, as desired.

But this is not to say that we are about to let our guards down. While we are pleased that the program is well underway, we hope that the curriculum reform can move at a more accelerated pace than it is moving at now. We feel that urgent focus has to be given on two critical issues:

• We are convinced that K to 12 will improve the lives of our youth, but must we be resigned to a timetable where our high school graduates will not benefit from the reforms until 2016? If we stay on this course, our college graduates, between now and 2020, will not yet be globally comparable. Must we leave behind our students graduating from 2012 to 2020? We feel that we need to explore and implement steps that will begin to improve the global competitiveness of our graduates, as early as now.

• Second is the institutionalization of the program. We feel that this early, more vigorous effort should be poured into ensuring that reform measures are institutionalized and not risk facing obstacles or a complete reversal by a new administration come 2016. We have come this far to reform our system. We are happy that the house committees led by Congressmen Escudero and Angara, and the Senate Committee led by Senator Angara are supportive of this program. We thus encourage the parties to pass the K to 12 bill as soon as possible.

I wish to highlight the urgency of these twin issues of transition and institutionalization a little bit more.
We are poised to achieve sustained economic growth we haven’t seen in a long time – albeit at a slower rate than other East Asian countries. But regaining and sustaining this momentum, while dependent on other factors as well, skills and skills development have key roles to play.

You know better than I how difficult and expensive it has become for businesses to recruit talents. According to a study by the World Bank released last year, “skills demand has been growing and changing in the Philippines, mainly driven by the service sector and labor export, and there are emerging skills gaps. The causes for these gaps however are not mainly due to skills supply but constrained mostly by the quality of workers’ skills and the relevance of their education and training. Main skills gaps are in fact, critical generic skills, such as problem-solving, initiative and creativity.” To my mind, these skills should have been learned, acquired and mastered in basic education.

Therefore, to wait for 2016 for the complete roll out of the program sets us back a few years. The yawning gap is felt now. Businesses are having a hard time filling the talents we need in order to remain competitive and attune to the economic challenges of the present times. While we are with government in having these issues addressed, we need them addressed in the here and now.
Thank you very much and a pleasant afternoon to all.