Oscar Lopez urges firms to let go of 'corporate pork barrels'
MANILA -- The Department of Education (DepEd) is pushing the private sector to be more involved in education and provide more opportunities for students who can be competitive members of the workforce.
DepEd Sec. Bro. Armin Luistro, along with other government officials, spoke before members of the League of Corporate Foundations (LCF) in Pasig City on Friday, and gave an overview of the current state of education in the Philippines.
One of the projects of Luistro as education secretary is the new K to 12 program, which added 2 years to high school.
The program, aside from preparing students for college, will also allow them to be ready to join the workforce as soon as they graduate.
The K to 12 program will have its first batch of senior high school graduates by 2016.
Luistro added that they face more challenges in the senior high school (SHS) program than in the mother tongue-based multilingual education (MTB-ME) program. In the SHS, they hope to provide skills that students can actually use at work.
Senior high school students can choose from four fields: academic, technical-vocational, sports and information technology.
Luistro expressed his gratitude for the private companies' donations and efforts in building additional classrooms and schools, but he also encouraged companies to move on from providing new classrooms, to maintaining schools.
CORPORATE 'PORK BARREL'
Meantime, Oscar M. Lopez, chairman emeritus of the Lopez Group of Companies, encouraged companies let go of their "corporate pork barrels," and instead, invest in skills and education.
Lopez said it is never enough for companies to just give out donations and money for items such as school supplies and classrooms. Instead, companies should ensure "that what we are doing matters."
"The dole-out mentality creates a culture of dependency. CSR [corporate social responsibility] must be fully integrated in company operations", Lopez said.
Instead of creating a culture of dependency, Lopez advised companies to promote inter-dependency between the donors and the recipients of aid.
"We should empower people, so they can empower others," Lopez added.
Instead of just giving out money, Lopez said companies should help improve education, and make it more accessible to more people.
Companies can also provide internships for students so they can use and hone the skills learned in school.
Washington SyCip, founder of the SGV Group, reiterated Lopez's call for companies to have a more "hands-on" role in education.
A proud product of public school education, SyCip has always valued education, and as a businessman, he has been encouraging other business owners to help children, especially those from the rural areas, have a chance at education.
"As drop-out rate increases, the rate of illiteracy increases. Most illiterate people tend to be poor," SyCip said.
He added that it is also important for companies to not only help students, but to convince their parents as well.
"Illiterate parents do not care much about education."
To end the vicious cycle of illiteracy and poverty, companies should provide more opportunities to students by giving them scholarships, or loans, that can help them continue studying.
Both businessmen have the same message: by helping students get better education, the Philippines can have more competitive members of the labor force.
Oscar Lopez of the Lopez Group of Companies with Education Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro, and other panelists during the Corporate Social Responsibilty Expo led by the League of Corporate Foundations (LCF) - Committee on Education