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[av_heading heading=’PEOPLE POWWOW | ‘Departmentalizing’ TESDA’ tag=’h3′ style=’blockquote modern-quote’ size=” subheading_active=’subheading_below’ subheading_size=’15’ padding=’10’ color=” custom_font=”]
BY HERBERT VEGO
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Sunday, April 9, 2017
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A RECENT item in Lapsus Calami announced the plan of Rep. Raul “Boboy” Tupas (5th District, Iloilo) to file a bill converting the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) into a fully-funded, full-fledged department that would enable the children of the poor to acquire profitable skills at the least cost or none at all.
By text message to this writer, Tupas said that since he is still in the process of drafting it based on data gathered from stakeholders, he would be unable to finish the bill until May this year.
I asked TESDA Regional Director Toni “Jun” Tamayo what he thought of Tupas’ initiative.
“It would fulfill the Filipino dream,” Tamayo enthused. “The Filipino dream is all about a good education that leads us to a good job, a roof over our heads, and peace and security in our home and neighborhood.”
It is no doubt in keeping with this dream that the new director general of TESDA, Guiling “Gene” Mamondiong, is mapping out strategies that would lure more enrollees to technical-vocational courses, whether at TESDA’s training centers or at TESDA-accredited schools.
TESDA has restructured Philippine education on the “paradigm of inclusiveness,” which is the opposite of the Department of Education’s education system that has excluded most of the young Filipinos from opportunities for productivity and self-advancement.
The present TESDA leadership deplores the reality that it is hard for poor parents to send their children to college that raises tuition fees by more or less 12 percent annually. As “antidote” to that, TESDA offers scholarships in short technical-vocational courses, notably the Training for Work Scholarship Program (TWSP). A TWSP-trained welder has brighter chances of employment than a Liberal Arts degree holder.
So far, a fourth-year high-school finisher may still enroll in any regular TESDA course; he does not have to spend two more years of “senior high.”
Such urgency stems from TESDA’s detailed survey: Of 100 Filipino children who enroll in grade one, only 66 make it to grade six (66 percent dropout rate). Of this number, 58 enroll in first year high school and eight eventually leave school (42 percent cumulative dropout rate at this level). Only 43 finish high school (57 percent cumulative drop-out rate at this level). Of the 43 high school graduates, 33 proceed to higher education and 10 to technical-vocational courses. Finally, only 21 of the original 100 grade one students graduate; 14 of them from college and seven from tech-voc school.
The good news today is that our workers don’t have to finish a four-year course to work abroad. We have a young, growing and energetic pool of English-speaking skilled and non-skilled workers who fill thousands of job vacancies abroad. The world is still open for hundreds of thousands of workers for the call centers, the construction industry, hotels, hospitals and restaurants.
There are more than enough jobs for technical-vocational talents. The top 25 job vacancies here and abroad have been in sectors that require critical skills. Canada, which has also a very low birth rate, needs Filipino workers for the oil sands of Alberta, British Columbia and its other provinces. Europe and the USA need workers in information technology, manufacturing, medical, health, construction, production, banking, finance and maritime sectors.
Today, the more than ten million Filipinos living and working abroad remit more than US $25 billion annually through banks and other channels. Sixty percent of TESDA graduates inevitably land jobs. No wonder there is now a rush for technical-vocational courses that could catapult the youth to the labor market at the earliest opportunity.
To sum it up, poverty is still the greatest obstacle to getting tertiary education, aggravated by another predicament that has overtaken our educational system – structural unemployment caused by mismatch between the qualifications the industries need and the skills the applicants possess./PN