Senators, Cabinet Secretary seek better coordination among education agencies

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 04 2020 06:47 PM

Teacher Lanie Clemente on the opening of the school year on October 5, 2020 at the Rafael Palma Elementary School in Manila. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — Several senators and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles are seeking to strengthen the coordination of agencies under the Teacher Education Council so training for educators in the country can be improved.

"Kailangan talaga ng isang body wherein nag-uusap-usap ang 3 agencies that has a lot to do with quality of education in the country," said Nograles, who leads a technical working group on teacher quality, during a Senate hearing. 

He was referring to the Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) — all member-agencies of the TEC. 

The TEC formulates policies and standards to improve teacher education and quality, as well as identify and designate centers of excellence among teacher education institutions (TEIs).

While the TEC brings together the 3 agencies in one body, they do not map out and implement reforms in teacher quality due to lack of mandate and resources, said Nograles.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian noted that from 2017 to 2020, the DepEd secretary attended only 3 out of 12 TEC meetings while undersecretaries or other representatives took part in the rest.

CHED commissioners also attended only 3 out of 12 TEC meetings, he added.

"This is just a reflection that some of the heads of offices are not taking the TEC very seriously," said Gatchalian, who filed a Senate bill that seeks to strengthen the TEC.

"Parang hindi maganda iyong attendance pagdating sa heads sa TEC meetings. Baka puwede namang kalampagin ni CabSec (Cabinet Secretary Nograles) na sana naman tutukan nila," said Sen. Nancy Binay.

(It seems the attendance of agency heads in TEC meetings is not good. Maybe CabSec can rouse them that they should give that attention.)

TEC Executive Director Runvi Manguerra agreed that there was a need to strengthen coordination within the TEC.

"The principals should really be present during the meetings," he said.

Nograles also urged the member-agencies of the TEC to meet regularly so they could plan on how to increase the number of teaching schools designated as centers of excellence.

Of the 1,572 teacher education institutions in the country, only 36 are designated as centers of excellence while 38 are centers of development, according to data from the Philippine Business for Education (PBEd).

In a previous hearing, PBEd said there was a need to increase the number of "high-quality" teaching schools to attract high school achievers to teacher education.

Meanwhile, education lawyer Joseph Noel Estrada said the functions of the TEC have been subsumed by laws that created other government agencies.

He cited Republic Act No. 7722, which created the CHED, as an example.

"All matters pertaining to higher education, supervision, regulation, development kasama na iyong teacher education, napunta sa Commission on Higher Education (and teacher education is now under CHED)," said Estrada.

"Many of its (TEC) functions have already been devolved and transferred to agencies and institutions," he added.

Senators are seeking to improve the quality of teacher education as they believe this would eventually improve learner outcomes.

This, following the Philippines' poor performance in the 2018 Program for International Student Assessment, where 15-year-old Filipino learners placed 79th in reading and also scored low in science and math.

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