DepEd playing catch-up for ASEAN 2015

Manila, Philippines – Is the Philippines late for the ASEAN 2015 in terms of education?

Education Secretary Armin Luistro said the Philippines might be considered “late” for the ASEAN economic integration in 2015 in terms of basic education but “only in the sense that there are many things that we need to do.”

Luistro said the Department of Education (DepEd) has to catch up with reforms that should have done a decade ago.

“All of these reforms (being done now) in the qualifications framework are all concepts that we should have done 10 years ago,” he said at an education conference held recently.

“Kung naghahabol tayo ngayon—whether it’s the curriculum or bureaucracy—nandito na tayo so we have to do the best that we can,” he said.

Luistro said the Philippines is having a difficult time cramming with measures to adapt to ASEAN 2015.

“Medyo hirap ang Pilipinas because there are things that we are really rushing and cramming about which we should have done earlier but the political landscape at that time was not yet ready so hindi natuloy,” he said.

The linkage between lead education agencies including DepEd, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and Technical Educational and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), he said, did not happen so there was no qualifications framework early on.

Luistro said that one of the preparations being done by the DepEd for the ASEAN 2015 is finalizing the K to 12 curriculum which is due to be released this month.

“The K to 12 is essential in the qualifications framework,” he said in an interview. “With this, we are trying to ensure that the Philippine education would be at par with other countries in terms of quality,” he said.

In two years, an ASEAN Economic Community is set to be established. This will mark the start of free trade among the 10 members of the ASEAN community. Asked what would be the implication of the impending development to the basic education, Luistro said it will greatly affect student mobility and the readiness of the Philippine schools to accept international students.

“If ASEAN 2015 really pushes through, the travel of students—even the minors—will happen and would be cheaper,” he said. This, he explained, “will pave more access to education by trying to eliminate barriers through physical travel.”

The Philippine education should also be ready in accommodating students—especially the curriculum, he said.

“Our curriculum should also be ready both ways—for students to move to another ASEAN country and not to have difficulty being absorbed and the other way around,” he said.

“Because of that greater mobility, there’s an implication to DepEd because we have to be ready to accept other international students into our schools,” he said.

With the changes ASEAN 2015 will bring in terms of delivering basic education services, Luistro said that there might be a “stronger” reason to shift the academic calendar to September other than weather patterns.

“That would be ideal [making the academic calendar in sync with other ASEAN countries] but we have to review if the ASEAN already in sync,” Luistro said. “Whether the ASEAN calendar is already in sync—especially for basic education—mukhang hindi pa based on our initial review,” he said.