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Rep. Duterte sees need to make graduates job-ready

FIRST District Rep. Paolo Duterte underscored the need for Congress to do its part in making Filipino graduates “employment-ready.”

He said lawmakers must act swiftly on proposed education reforms that would effectively address the jobs-skills mismatch in the country and bolster enterprise-based education.

These measures, along with his recently filed bill that seeks to establish early learning programs for indigent pre-kindergarten children, will help lessen the effects of the pandemic-induced education crisis in the country, Duterte said. 

Duterte noted that the business sector has already sounded the alarm over the crisis situation in the education sector, which was made worse by the pandemic and the youth’s growing obsession with social media. 

“Millions of students that will graduate or have recently graduated from senior high school or college will either get a job that suits their skills or one where they are overqualified or underqualified. But many will still find themselves jobless because their skills are not commensurate to the demands in the job market,” Duterte said. 

“This translates into wasted opportunities and lower-than-expected returns on education investments, which negatively affect the productivity and competitiveness of our workforce,” he added. 

Two measures already passed by the House of Representative on the third and final reading aims to address these concerns—the bill that seeks to institutionalize the country’s enterprise-based education and training program (House Bill 7400) and the bill creating a tripartite council that will be tasked to focus on the jobs-skills mismatch, to reduce unemployment and underemployment (HB 7370), Duterte said.  

The bills, with Duterte as among the principal authors, have been transmitted to the Senate in March this year. 

Last week, Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) president Benedicta Du-Baladad expressed alarm over Philippine education today and urged the government to transform the education system to better adapt to the fast-changing technology-driven employment landscape. 

Du-Baladad said public-private education partnerships will help ensure graduates are adequately prepared for gainful employment or enterprise building. 

Duterte said another step in the right direction is the commitment of his sister, Vice President and concurrent Education Secretary Sara Duterte, to revisit the K-to-12 basic education curriculum to make it relevant in producing competent, job-ready, active, and responsible citizens. 

According to Duterte, some of MAP’s concerns can be addressed by the passage of HBs 7400 and 7370. At the same time, a third congressional measure—HB 8069– will help nip in the bud the learning deficiencies of Filipino children. 

The bill, which Duterte filed a few weeks before adjourning the first congressional session, aims to establish early childhood or pre-kindergarten education programs for indigent Filipino kids. 

Investing in pre-kindergarten education has been proven to show concrete improvements in a child’s learning skills, said Duterte, citing a study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which revealed that kids who attended one or more years of preschool scored 30 points higher in reading compared to those who did not. 

Duterte also agreed with MAP’s recommendation to make the programs of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) “future-oriented” to ensure that both teachers and students are constantly upskilled to meet the demands of the labor market. 

A 2020 study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) found that only a little over 20 percent of senior high school (SHS) graduates entered the labor force, and over 70 percent continued their education. 

The report said that there was a need for the government “to re-examine the employment and entrepreneurial objectives of the SHS program.”

Another PIDS study showed that 40 percent of employed Filipinos have academic credentials beyond what is needed in their jobs. They only earned five percent more for finishing their studies despite being relatively overeducated for their positions.

Meanwhile, a paper released by the World Bank in June last year said large-scale learning assessments of students in the Philippines indicate that 90 percent do not achieve the minimum proficiency level in reading at the end of primary school. 

Duterte said that while the Second Congressional Commission on Education (Edcom II) is currently crafting solutions to these problems plaguing the education sector, Congress can now ease the effects of the education crisis.


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