The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are the blueprint for achieving a better and more sustainable future. They address global challenges like poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace, and justice.
SDG 2030 is a universal set of goals, targets, and indicators agreed upon by the United Nations (UN) member states in 2015, which guide their respective development agendas and policies until 2030.
The Philippines affirms its commitment to achieving the SDGs by 2030, if not sooner, especially as the Global Goals align with the country’s development plans and long-term aspirations for 2040.
In particular, the Department of Education (DepEd) supports and focuses on attaining SDG 4, ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education, and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all.
The vision for Philippine society by 2040 is embodied in Ambisyon Natin 2040. This is a long-term strategy of the national government in fighting poverty, representing the Filipino’s collective long-term vision and aspirations for themselves and the country in the next 25 years.
It envisions that: “By 2040, the Philippines shall be a prosperous, predominantly middle-class society where no one is poor; our peoples shall live long and healthy lives, be smart and innovative, and shall live in a high-trust society.”
The current Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022 sets out the strategies to meet the long-term vision.
The goals and strategies are grouped into the following pillars:
- Enhancing the social fabric (malasakit),
- Reducing inequality (pagbabago), and
- Increasing growth potential (patuloy na pag-unlad).
Achieving these necessitates providing an enabling and supportive economic environment, solid foundations for sustainable development towards peace and security, balanced and strategic infrastructure development, and ecological integrity. The current PDP 2017-2022 translates the Ambisyon Natin 2040 into the first 5-year plan.
The National Strategic Plan for Early Childhood Care and Development 2019-2030 outlines four outcome areas that stand out either because progress has been limited despite efforts or it has not received adequate attention.
These outcome areas are: (i) malnutrition among 6-24 month-old infants and young children; (ii) malnutrition among pregnant women; (iii) neonatal mortality; (iv) early childhood development outcomes of (a) young children with disabilities and developmental delays; (b) young children in emergencies; (c) young children who experience violence, abuse, and severe neglect.
The 10-point Agenda of the Secretary of Education emphasized that the foremost task is to raise the quality of education, thus the vision of Quality, Accessible, Relevant, and Liberating Basic Education for All. As she expounded further, “for all the human, financial and physical resources that we devote to basic education, the ultimate measure of quality will be in the characteristics of the graduates that we produce.
DepEd must strengthen its focus on raising the quality of education, reiterating this foremost task. To attain this, Secretary Briones pointed out that “it is at the level of the school and the classroom that quality will ultimately depend.”
The Secretary has directed all officials of DepEd to support key priority reforms as approved by President Duterte. These are summarized as follows:
- K to 12 curriculum review and update with a focus on foundational skills in reading and numeracy, especially in early grades;
- Improving the learning environment in terms of physical facilities, learning resources, and promoting safe and nurturing schools;
- Teachers’ upskilling and reskilling to develop teaching proficiency alongside the provision of incentives and better career progression; and
- Engagement of stakeholders for support and collaboration not just on the provision of facilities but more on deeper consultations, collaborative research and analysis, and high-level advice on strategic policy, planning, and programming for quality.
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Sulong EduKalidad was launched in December 2019 to pursue major initiatives focused on quality. These included the review of the K to 12 curriculum, the transformation of NEAP for the professional development and career progression of teachers, and the equipping and upskilling of the teachers to deliver the K to 12 Program, among others.
Sulong EduKalidad is a national effort designed to improve the QUALITY of education, close the remaining ACCESS gaps, and address EQUITY issues.
It has 4 Pillars that represent the priority areas. Each Pillar has several core strategies that will catalyze the achievement of the overall goal of Sulong EduKalidad.
Each strategy is supported by relevant programs, projects, and activities that will help achieve the objective of each strategy. The soul of the framework is the core values that should influence how the curriculum is delivered in every classroom.
Governance and Management include cross-cutting processes that will support each strategic objective’s implementation. Research and Innovations, Policy Development, Planning, and Monitoring & Evaluation, Legal Management and Financial and Procurement management are essential key management processes that will keep the system improvements for the better.
Figure 1: Sulong EduKalidad Framework
To provide nuanced interventions to the remaining gaps in access and quality, DepEd developed the Last Mile Schools program, which is part of the Public Schools of the Future Framework in line with the PDP 2017-2022.
It aims to reach schools with less than four classrooms, usually makeshift and non-standard. These schools also lack access to utilities and other facilities and are often located in far-flung areas. These will be provided with at least four new classrooms with standard furniture, equipment, tools, and other teaching and learning materials. If necessary, these will also be provided with electricity and other utilities to ensure that the learning environment is conducive for all stakeholders.
Also, under the Edukalidad umbrella is the National Indigenous Peoples Education Policy Framework. It aims to maintain an education system that will recognize, protect, and promote the rights and welfare of Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICCs)/Indigenous People (IP) and equip them with the knowledge and skills needed to face various social realities and challenges.
IP education interventions are to be developed and implemented in consultation and cooperation with IPs concerned to address and incorporate their particular needs, histories, identities, languages, knowledge, and other aspects of their culture, as well as their social, economic, and cultural priorities and aspirations.
Another sectoral plan under EduKalidad is the ALS 2.0 Strategic Roadmap. It positions ALS within the DepEd Results Framework and sets out goals for Access, Quality, and Governance in support of the basic education system. It aims to provide second-chance education to millions of out-of-school youth through innovations necessitated by the new curriculum and Industry 4.0.
Recognizing the consistently low education outcomes, the BARMM Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education developed the Alternative Learning Modalities Roadmap. It also has goals along the main goals of Access, Quality and Governance, but it identifies more real outcomes and strategies more suited for the situation in the BARMM. This was developed ahead of the Bangsamoro Education Code as important interventions had to be implemented as soon as possible.48
DepEd plans to create an Education Futures Program under the Office of the Secretary to make basic education more relevant and responsive. It aims to provide the Department the ability to develop policies and programs that consider driving forces and possibilities yet accounted for.
Its outputs will be founded on strong research and consideration of global trends and best practices. Its work will challenge assumptions and formulate out-of-the-box solutions to pressing problems and challenges. It will mainstream scenario-building and multi-disciplinary approaches to policy making.
Philippine Qualifications Framework (PQF)
The establishment of a Philippine Qualifications Framework (PQF) recognizes the need to address major gaps in the education, training, professional, and industry sectors and align national with international standards.
The PQF provides the levels of educational qualifications and sets the standards for qualification outcomes. It is a quality-assured national system for the development, recognition, and award of qualifications based on standards of knowledge, skills, and values acquired in different ways and methods by learners and workers of the country49.
The PQF considers Senior High School as the foundation of the eight levels and provides eligible Senior High School graduates the possibility of obtaining qualifications up to Level 5 and admission to degree programs in Level 6.
Figure 2: Philippine Qualifications Framework (PQF)
As shown in figure 2 above, the PQF has eight Levels of qualifications differentiated by descriptors of expected learning outcomes along three domains: knowledge, skills, and values; application; and degree of independence.
It has sub-frameworks corresponding to the subsystems of the education and training system. For example, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) subsystem covers National Certificates (NC) I through IV corresponding to the first four levels, while the Commission on Higher Education Subsystem covers Baccalaureate, Postgraduate Diploma, Masters, and Doctorate that correspond to Levels 6 to 8. The two subsystems interface in the provision of qualifications at the level.
There has been some concern that Grade 12 graduation is only considered a foundational level in the PQF. The concerns stem from Senior High School was only introduced in the basic education system in 2016.
It is believed that the Grade 12 diploma should mean a little bit more in terms of personal credentials or qualifications, given the opportunity cost for undertaking it.
Another source of concern is that students in the Technical, Vocational and Livelihood Senior High School Track will be able to gain National Certificates I and II through TESDA accreditation throughout SHS.
This seems inconsistent with the fact that Grade 12 graduation will not afford the student even a PQF Level 1 qualification. Lastly, very few stakeholders are aware of all the details and advantages of the PQF, making its institutionalization and effectiveness more difficult.
Office of the Undersecretary for Administration (OUA)