To aid the government in its efforts to improve the state of education in the country, the Senate is pushing for the revival of the Congressional Committee on Education (EDCOM).
Five senators, led by Sonny Angara, have filed Senate Joint Resolution No. 10 calling for the creation of the EDCOM, which will be composed of five members each from the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The EDCOM will be tasked to review, assess and evaluate the formal, non-formal, informal and alternative learning systems, including continuing systems of education at all levels.
“A lot has been done to improve the country’s educational system over the years but it has become apparent that we need to do more to put us at par with the rest of the world,” Angara said.
“The results of the 2018 round of the Programme for International Student Assessment or PISA, which saw the Philippines at the bottom or second to the last in the list of 79 countries on reading literacy, mathematics and science literacy, was a wake up call, not only for the DepEd but to Congress as well. We need to act right away,” Angara added.
It was back in 1990 during the presidency of Corazon Aquino that the first EDCOM was created through Joint Resolution No. 2 passed by Congress.
Headed by Angara’s father, former Senate President Edgardo Angara, the EDCOM came out with a report entitled Making Education Work, An Agenda for Reform that paved the way for the implementation of education reforms in the country.
Among the products of the EDCOM report was the “trifocalization” of the education system, with the Department of Education having oversight over basic education; the Commission on Higher Education for higher education; and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority for technical and vocational education and training (TVET).
Twenty five years have passed since the EDCOM report came out but challenges remain in the education sector that have yet to be addressed. The net enrollment ratio for junior and senior high school in 2018 were at 81.4% and 51.2% respectively, while the completion rate of secondary students was only at 84.3% in 2017.
The basic education system still suffers from chronic shortages of teachers and classrooms, large class sizes and low levels of learning achievement. In 2018, the passing rate in licensure exams was pegged at a low 37.9%.
TESDA has yet to fully implement the provisions of Republic Act 7796 or the TESDA Act of 1994, particularly the devolution of TVET to local governments and industry.
The number State Universities and Colleges and Local Universities and Colleges have increased significantly since 1992, leading to duplication of degree offerings with consequent decreases in the provision of faculty and physical facilities requirements.
Angara noted that there were also major recommendations of the EDCOM that were not acted upon such as the creation or institutionalization of a permanent National Coordinating Council for Education to harmonize the policies and programs of the three education agencies and dovetail them to national development plans.
“The demands of the workplace are constantly changing and so are the challenges to education brought about by the Fourth Industrial Education. The fast pace of change across the globe is demanding shifts in our educational paradigms, away from content-centric learning to skills and outcome-based learning,” Angara said.
Just like its predecessor, the new EDCOM will come up with a report on its findings, including short and long-term policy and program recommendations.
The chairpersons of the Senate Committees on Basic Education, Arts and Culture and on Higher, Technical and Vocational Education and the chairpersons of the House Committees on Basic Education and Culture and on Higher and Technical Education shall serve as co-chairs of the EDCOM.
The EDCOM will have three years from its organization to complete its mandate.
Apart from Angara, Senate Joint Resolution 10 has Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senators Sherwin Gatchalian, Grace Poe and Joel Villanueva as co-authors.