Wednesday, September 05, 2007

TESDA sees problems in basic education

By Alexander Villafania -

MANILA, Philippines -- “The Department of Education (DepEd) should fix its own house first.”

This was the advice of Technical Education and Skills Development (TESDA) Director General Augusto Syjuco to the DepEd over the low skill capabilities of elementary and high school graduates.

Syjuco said many students do not have the basic capabilities to even make it to some technical and vocational courses, even those requiring low-level skills.

Some of the courses developed by TESDA had to be tweaked to provide the most basic knowledge and accommodate students.

In fact, Syjuco said the problem could worsen in coming years.

“Let them [DepEd] fix up basic education so that the graduates learn the most necessary skills to pursue specific fields of industry,” Syjuco said.

Syjuco was also critical of the DepEd’s newly implemented National Career Assessment Exam (NCAE), saying the department should not measure students’ technical and vocational capabilities but rather provide the basic education that will be the foundation of higher levels of skills development.

Introduced in 2006 to replace the National College Entrance Examination, the NCAE assesses senior high school students’ technical and vocational aptitude and entrepreneurial skills, therefore providing an overview as to what particular direction a student could take after high school.

The NCAE has been repeatedly criticized by educational organizations but Education Secretary Jesli Lapus has strongly supported, saying it would address the employment mismatch and ensure students know what course to take in college based on their aptitude.

However, Syjuco claims that the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and TESDA are the agencies responsible for ensuring industry-specific skills development for students.

“The three education agencies are mandated with specific jobs and the responsibility of CHED and TESDA is to land jobs for graduates.”

Syjuco claims TESDA has been spending millions to improve their technical and vocational infrastructure due to the growing number of young adults who want to immediately pursue jobs and not go through the traditional two-year or four-year college course.

TESDA and CHED have recently renewed their commitment to improve their ladderized program to allow students from technical-vocational schools to continue into tertiary education, and vice versa.

Syjuco said they expect at least an additional $500 million budget for 2008, on top of their existing $500 million for this year. Most of the expected $1-billion budget for 2008 would go to scholarships and improving remaining technical and vocational courses.

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