Many Philippine universities are suffering in terms of quality and academic reputation because of the less-than-stellar elementary and high school education they provide, according to Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan.
As a result, the universities produce mediocre graduates, she said.
Ilagan, a former university professor, made the statement when asked to comment on the recent report that only five Philippine schools, down from 14, were included in this year’s list of top 300 universities in Asia, as ranked by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), a British company specializing in education.
The ranking is based on several criteria, including reputation and research citations.
She said one of the reasons behind the inadequacy is the schools’ focus on getting as many enrollees as possible on top of the provision of quality education.
“[They make do] with the quality of students they get. So even if the performance is mediocre, they make the students pass. There are only very few colleges that insist on high standards. It’s not common to all,” Ilagan said in a phone interview.
Based on her experience, Ilagan said there are students who enroll in college possessing poor reading comprehension and writing skills.
She said this would not be addressed by the government’s K to 12 program that adds two more years of high school education.
“This program only added quantity, not quality. We added two more years of high school, but did we take a good look at the curriculum and the support system?” she said.
She noted that classrooms remain overcrowded and teachers overburdened, with students not getting the kind of supervision and ideal learning environment they should be enjoying.
The focus has also leaned on memorizing facts instead of acquiring learning skills or “learning how to learn” so that students could further develop on their own, she said.
Ilagan also said many colleges and universities have become diploma mills, focusing on getting many students to graduate from popular courses that markets demand.
She said there is also a need to scrutinize the quality of college professors.
For his part, party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio of ACT Teachers said the government must allocate more funds for the development of tertiary education in the country.
Tinio noted that in the latest QS report, most of the top-ranked universities are state-funded.
“In Asia, public universities rule. The lesson here is that in order for our higher education sector to become competitive with the regional front-runners, the government must drastically step up its funding and other support for our state universities and colleges,” Tinio said.
Public funds should go to faculty development, research, improvement of facilities, and development of local and international linkages, he said.
“Unfortunately, government higher education policy over the last two decades has gone in the other direction, towards budget cuts, contractualization of faculty and commercialization,” he added.