Philippine education ranked 'poor'

By Max V. de Leon, Business Mirror

Posted at Jun 15 2011 06:51 AM | Updated as of Jun 15 2011 06:17 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines ranks a poor seventh among nine Southeast Asian nations in the area of education and innovation, Guillermo M. Luz, co-chairman of the National Competitiveness Council (NCC), said.

At a forum on Innovation and Entrepreneurship for a Globally Competitive Philippines on Tuesday, Luz presented the disturbing results of the 2010-2011 Global Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum, which showed that the Philippines only fared better than Cambodia, among the eight Southeast Asian countries that were surveyed in the fields of education, science and technology and innovation.

In the area of primary education, the Philippines ranked 99th out of 138 economies. The Philippines ranked 69th in educational system, 112th in science and math, and 76th on Internet access.

In all categories, the Philippines was falling behind Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.

But the NCC remains confident the country can immediately make a strong headway if academe and the private sector could get their acts together and focus on a few doables.

“Among these things are greater university-industry collaboration in research, for instance, and the use of more technology in education. I also propose greater collaboration on strategic plans and processes for industry and government for tighter cohesion,” Luz told the BusinessMirror.

For instance, Luz said, instead of spending billions of pesos for textbooks that are prone to errors and entail huge printing and transport costs, public and private schools should shift to e-books that are easier to upload and update.

He said shifting to e-books is more practical nowadays, with the presence of computers in schools and the connectivity being offered by private firms.

In the area of research and development, Luz said there is a noticeable low collaboration between the industries and the universities. He said schools are not too open in giving their research to the private sector. The industries, on the other hand, are not putting enough money for academic research.

“Right now, the research being done in schools is merely for thesis purposes. The output of the research should be given to the industries so they can be converted into something that is useful. The private sector will then give royalties to the school. We have to create business value for the research,” he said.

Also, since only about 20% of the close to 25 million elementary pupils and high-school students are going to college, Luz said it is probably better to limit the number of colleges and universities.

“We should make better colleges rather than have too many mediocre colleges. Right now, we have about 1,700 colleges and universities. I believe we should have fewer but better universities. We should rationalize the system,” he said.