By Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan
November 7, 2016
QUEZON CITY – Youth group Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK) rebuked Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairperson Patricia Licuanan for statements the group called as “irresponsible and limiting the aspirations of the youth”. The group likewise criticized her mode of endorsing vocational courses.
SPARK, an advocate of free and accessible education for all, expressed disbelief over the way the chief urged college aspirants to settle and enlist in Technical Education and Skills Development Authority’s (TESDA) vocational courses instead of pursuing a college degree.
Speaking at the Education Summit 2016 conducted last November 3-4, Licuanan observed that notwithstanding the full implementation of K to 12 program, it still remains a priority to Filipino families to send their children to college.
Licuanan consistent with her statement in August last year that every student should not opt to attend college, she upheld: “We find at CHED that more people want the diploma from college, when maybe it is better for them to go to TESDA to take vocational courses. We are trying to change that mindset.”
However, SPARK sees this as a limiting factor imposed by the state. “Albeit the huge disparity in material well-being, we ought to have equal rights to receive free and quality education. But Licuanan instead of buttressing this, is fundamentally proclaiming that tertiary education is not for everyone, as if she is the ultimate authority in determining who’s fit to receive a diploma or not,” said Clarissa Villegas of SPARK.
She added that, “It is one thing to laud TESDA’s programs side by side with the so-called reforms in the educational sector but it is alarming for a state official to deliberately endorse for certain individuals the substitution of college diplomas with vocational courses.”
With the K to 12 program, Director Guiling Mamondiong of TESDA is also expecting a boost in the country’s employment, primarily through the technical-vocational-livelihood track being offered. In his talk “TESDA Susi sa Kinabukasan”, Mamondiong asserts: “We are closely coordinating with the industry to address mismatch. Meaning, if we have to produce skilled workers, it is because the industry needs it.”
Villegas emphasized that if there’s one thing that makes us paradoxically globally-competitive, it is the pool of billions of uneducated workforce. According to her, “skilled but illiterate and discounted workers will only propel the youth towards a vulnerable platform of exploitation and misery in this period of global economic integration”.
“You can only master a trade so much, but as long as you depend on an employer who consistently retrenches you, in materiality there is no upward mobility. Here, Licuanan’s twisted logic restricts the very purpose of education – vocational or professional, solely for employment gains. TESDA courses might provide short-run employment now, but in the long run you cannot surmount so much of the structural limitations present in our society. You cannot beat chronic poverty with a TESDA certificate. Why make us settle for less? We’re not levelling any playing field by treating vocational education and tertiary education as equals.” Villegas said.
SPARK accused Licuanan of shifting the focus away from her failure to provide accessible and quality education despite sitting at the CHED’s top post for more than six years already.
“She might as well resign from her post if she prefers the youth to remain uneducated and docile slaves of oligarchs instead of critical and productive members of society,” Villegas concluded.