Written by Thomas Watson
To many countries, Philippines is seen as a third-world country where Filipinos get their undergraduate degrees and then flock to other countries to pursue higher education or work.
Every year, millions of Filipinos become Overseas Filipino Workers (PSA.gov.ph) and go work abroad to countries in the Middle East, Asia, Australia, US, or Canada.
The reason? Jobs abroad pay more and the money gets sent back home as remittances. The quality of life and the quality of education is also higher in other countries.
The question is: is there any potential that the Philippines can improve? Is it destined to be a country where Filipinos go abroad for a much better life?
There is a saying that goes "a country is a good as its people". In this case, are Filipinos loyal to their country or do they serve other countries?
In terms of higher education, Philippines is not in the top 10 of countries with the largest amount of people going abroad (Forbes, WorldAtlas) but it is still a question of curiosity of how does higher education in the Philippines compare to higher education abroad. Without a doubt, the opinions of most people are that education abroad is much better.
CollegeConnect.ph teamed up with Terrapinn, the organizers behind EduTech 2018: 21st Century Education for all in the Philippines, to survey people working in the academia including school administrators and 3rd and 4th-year college students to get their thoughts.
For school administrators, 40% agreed that higher education abroad was better. 26% said there had been no improvement in higher education in the past 5 years. 23% said more government support is needed. 40% said more school administrative support is needed.
College students who had never studied abroad noted finance and closeness to home as the #1 reason for studying locally. Quality of education and prestige was the #1 factor in choosing a local college. 24% felt like the school system has not improved, 33% believe going abroad gives Filipinos a better chance at success and opportunity.
37% of students who have studied abroad observed a decline in performance of schools in the Philippines.
While many responses were neutral, overall, students who have either studied locally or abroad observe the same challenges in colleges when it comes to global competitiveness, quality of teaching, and advancement of technology.
What does this mean? Financial problems still pose a huge challenge for majority of students and in a culture that is very much family-oriented, studying locally is something many Filipinos do not have a problem with. While going abroad does provide more opportunity, it is seen as something that can come when the right moment arrives. As for the quality of education, many students have accepted it for what it is and do not have a strong opinion about it. Though it is obvious that local education should always be improving and become more globalized.
Do the challenges of higher education go beyond the schools?
When it comes to the overall performance of the Department of Education and Commission of Higher Education, 47.5% of respondents said both departments could do better, 42.5% said the departments are doing the best they can, and 10% said a lot needs to be changed.
Majority of respondents said their current school was doing great in terms of overall performance.
Lastly, if they had to choose at least three things they would improve in higher education, curriculum was #1 from 57.5% of respondents, Quality of teachers and technology in the school was #2 with 47.5%, and Funding at #3 with 45% .
So what are the challenges that higher education is facing?
CIE British School posted an article (http://cie.edu/home/what-an-ordinary-filipino-thinks-the-philippine-education-system-and-global-competitiveness-of-filipino-human-resources/) that shows how the Philippines, in comparison to other Asian countries, is lagging behind in terms of global competitiveness.
World Education News had similar insight in their published article (https://wenr.wes.org/2018/03/education-in-the-philippines) noticing the lack of researchers in the Philippines.
UNESCO published an article online (http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0013/001336/133645e.pdf) stating how accreditation as a process should be reformed and improved to improve the quality of curriculums in schools.
Do schools have enough budget?
Education is the top priority for the national budget according to the 2018 budget plan (https://www.dbm.gov.ph/index.php/secretary-s-corner/press-releases/list-of-press-releases/222-dbm-s-proposed-p3-767-trillion-2018-budget-prioritizes-education-and-infrastructure-development-program). Though the biggest concern is how that budget will be handled by CHED and how the schools will implement their shares of the budget into growing and improving their programs.
Conclusion and Future of Higher Education in the Philippines
The Philippines can be a leader in education if it chooses to be. There is no doubt that there is so much to do in terms of improvement. How fast education can progress and improve is dependent on how fast educational leaders want it to progress and improve. In some countries, the quality of education is so high that there is no such thing as "international education". Their country already offers international level education. The choice to push forward is a choice the people of the Philippines has to make. To push forward in the Philippines or to push forward in a different country. Is it bad to study abroad? It is only bad when studying and working abroad becomes a status. Studying and working abroad should never make someone more superior than another person. Globalized higher education should be something any and every Filipino can and should have access to, not just abroad, but locally.