By Herman M. Lagon
ACCREDITATION, while seemingly mundane in education, holds immense significance as a gold standard that certifies educational programs and institutions against specific benchmarks. However, the complexities and challenges underlying accreditation come to light when examining its application in the Philippine educational context.
A prominent issue plaguing the Philippine accreditation system is its voluntary nature, which, while fostering academic freedom, may inadvertently breed complacency in some institutions. A more formalized quality assurance framework could instill a consistent standard.
ISO certificates and Level 3 and Level 4 accreditations often fail to impress because appearances on paper and brief visits may not reflect reality. The accreditation process can sometimes feel like a magical illusion, masking mediocrity. High fees charged by accrediting agencies, accompanied by unofficial “pasalubongs” and expensive accommodations, raise suspicions of overcompensation, subtle bribery, or even scams.
The predominant reliance on point-based metrics in accreditation sidesteps education’s intrinsic, non-quantifiable essentials. Emphasizing quantifiable outcomes neglects vital aspects such as meaningful teacher-student relationships, holistic development, critical thinking, creativity, ethical values, and resilience – all crucial for students’ personal growth and societal contributions. The essence of teaching and learning cannot be reduced to numbers. By fixating on numeric outcomes, accreditation risks limiting education’s transformative potential.
Additionally, there are concerns about the credibility of assessors in state universities and colleges, casting doubt on the process’s trustworthiness.
Despite these challenges, accreditation remains essential for maintaining and enhancing educational quality. Many accrediting agencies continue to sustain competent, dedicated accreditors and rigid validation process. But the accreditation system must deliberately proceed to evolve to serve students, institutions, and society better. Key student outcomes like degree completion rates, debt-to-earnings ratios, graduate employability, and productivity, and aspects like research-extension initiatives, internationalization, leadership dynamics, and an empowering culture must be carefully reviewed and improved.
Accrediting bodies should include more industry experts, tech savvy, and data-driven members, operating with extended merit-based term limits to ensure expertise development. Further engaging stakeholders, simplifying standards, reducing fees, promoting continuous improvement, and prioritizing data-driven decision-making are necessary steps. Encouraging innovation, supporting struggling schools, ensuring accountability, involving parents and communities, aligning with national and international goals, efficient technology utilization, cultural sensitivity, and investment in research and development are also pivotal for sustained educational quality.
While school accreditation has flaws, addressing these issues will allow it to continue playing a vital role in ensuring educational quality and accountability in the Philippines, effectively serving students, families, the faculty, and society.
Doc H fondly describes himself as a ‘student of and for life’ who, like many others, aspires to a life-giving and why-driven world that is grounded in social justice and the pursuit of happiness. His views herewith do not necessarily reflect those of the institutions he is employed or connected with.
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