Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Senate ok’s 2 bills for poor, working students

The Senate today approved on third and final reading two bills seeking to make education more accessible to poor and working Filipino students.

Approved were Senate Bill No. 2272, also known as the Ladderized Education Act of 2014 and Senate Bill No. 2274, or the Act which seeks to expand access to education through open learning and distance education.

SBN 2272 was sponsored by Sen. Pia Cayetano, chair of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture, and co-sponsored by Sen. Cynthia Villar while SBN 2274 was sponsored by Cayetano and co-sponsored by Senate Pro Tempore Ralph Recto and Senators Juan Edgardo Angara, Jinggoy Estrada, Antonio Trillanes IV, Miriam Defensor Santiago, and Villar.

 Senate President Franklin M. Drilon welcomed the passage of the bills in the opening of the 16th Congress, saying that the improvement of the national education system “remains as one of the most important in our legislative agenda.”

“These approved measures are designed to remove barriers to the effective delivery of education throughout the country, such as poverty, distance and age. We really need to make our education more readily accessible to all for a better future,” he said.  

Institutionalization of Ladderized Education

SBN 2272 seeks to institutionalize the ladderized education program established under Executive Order 358, series of 2004, which provided for the mandate and legal framework for a wider-scaled-and accelerated -implementation of ladderized education nationwide, according Cayetano.

Ladderized education is a system of education that allows students to progress between technical-vocational education and training (TVET) and college, and vice-versa, while at the same time opening opportunities for career and educational advancement for working and non-working students.

Under the ladderized system of education, Cayetano explained, a student who has completed two years of tech-voc training will receive a certificate, allowing him or her to gain employment as soon as possible. A student may proceed to further studies if he or she would choose to.

“Many Filipino youth and adults take tech-voc courses because they cannot afford the expenses of a regular education.  Tech-voc training by itself is a viable career option because it is rapid, flexible, jobs-oriented and competency based,” Cayetano said.

She cited a Philippine poverty and education profile report published by the University of the Philppines-School of Economics on September 2013 which showed that out of 100 children who entered elementary schools, only 45 students graduated from high school and 13 completed college.

Cayetano said the enactment of SBN 2272 into law would address the present compartmentalization of tech-voc courses, along with college degree programs that hinder the recognition and accreditation of tech-voc competencies in college degree programs. She said the bill synchronizes tech-voc and college degree programs, thereby allowing individuals to progress between tech-voc courses, college degree programs and, ultimately, gainful employment.

For her part, Villar, who authored and led the passage of 28 bills on higher or technical education when she was the chairperson of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education from 2004 to 2010, said that a ladderized education system would benefit the poor by helping them attain higher or further education. 

She said the ladderized system would allow graduates of tech-voc courses to pursue higher educational courses offered in colleges and universities without having to start all over again, as the system allows the transfer of credits earned from tech-voc courses to a degree program.

Expanding Open Learning and Distance Education

According to Cayetano, Senate Bill No. 2274 or distance education, is a mode of delivering education and instruction “on an individual basis to students who are not physically present in a traditional setting, such as the classroom.”

“Even though students and teachers are separated through time and space, the measure allows for instruction to be delivered through specially designed materials and methods, such as the use of more advanced technologies like the Internet,” she said.
Students enrolling in open learning systems can get their education through the use of different learning technologies and multimedia material, which strictly follow an approved curriculum, Cayetano further explained.

Under this measure, she said, distance education at the tertiary level will be at par with existing standards, and comparable to formal educational systems, giving more Filipinos more access to quality education and employment.  (Yvonne Almirañez)

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