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The Manila Declaration on Philippine Higher Education

/ 12:01 AM September 02, 2014

Philippine Higher Education is an integral component in shaping well-rounded individuals who are able to take part in meaningful human, social, cultural, and economic development. When academic freedom is promoted and protected, it is able to generate new ideas and enhance the skills and talents of graduates.

Cognizant of the above, we, the presidents and administrators of higher education institutions (HEI) affirm collectively and individually that:

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1. Quality higher education has a vital role in human, social, cultural, and economic development. It is secured through the HEI’s verified achievement of government-set minimum standards, the further pursuit of academic excellence, the implementation of the HEI’s vision and mission, and responsiveness to stakeholders.

2. In the pursuit of truth, HEIs take part in the cultivation of exemplary citizens who embody the values of academic integrity, democracy, patriotism, gender equity, spirituality, and socio-civic responsibility.

3. The programs and policies of HEIs should be in accordance to their declared vision and mission.

4. Sharing of information among all HEIs is essential in addressing the lack of resources, as well as sustaining communication, provided that academic freedom and intellectual property rights are respected.

5. The production of innovative research allows both students and teachers to gain a deeper understanding of the state of the art in their respective fields.

6. HEIs and industry must strive to harmonize the knowledge, skills, and attributes of their graduates with the needs of industry and the economy in a humane society. To this end, HEIs must be willing to work with businesses, non-governmental organizations, and industry and professional associations.

Having established the foregoing principles, we, the presidents and administrators of private, state, and local higher educational institutions pledge to sustain meaningful and productive discussions leading to recommendations and solutions for the improvement of higher education in the Philippines. We hereby commit to prioritizing the following agenda items towards the realization of an appropriate, responsive, and high quality Philippine higher education:

1. Creating Higher Quality Programs and Improving Faculty Development

– To agree upon the purpose of higher education and the definitions of quality;

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– To come up with mechanisms on how to encourage all HEIs to have their programs accredited and be further improved;

– To utilize private-public partnership dialogues for the sharing of best practices that can maximize student potentials and learning outcomes;

– To explore measures of progression and assessments of learning at the tertiary level; and

– To provide accessible and high quality training and development support to faculty.

2. Building Academe-Industry Linkages

– To institutionalize partnerships between academe and the industry for curriculum design, practical training, and work experience, when appropriate, in order to foster the development of skills needed by the industry;

– To recognize the role of the government in promoting academe-industry collaboration, part of which includes a review of the Labor Code with a view towards enabling internship and on-the-job training hours to be recognized for employment probation, as well as the provision of financial incentives to encourage such linkages; and

– To support the creation and sustainability of the National Industry-Academe Council, which is mandated to create a reform agenda based on the following: (1) involving industry, (2) improving market information, (3) leveling the playing field, and (4) developing systems to improve governance.

3. Rationalizing and Developing Research

– To craft the Philippine research agenda and roadmap;

– To formalize the conduct of research collaboration among all stakeholders through a memorandum of agreement to be signed by the Commission on Higher Education, the Department of Science and Technology, the Presidents of schools associations, and Philippine Business for Education;

– To initiate the creation of the Philippine Higher Education Research Portal to allow for and encourage information sharing among schools;

– To institutionalize and scale up private-public partnerships for research that can strengthen the research capabilities of HEIs;

– To seek opportunities for the creation of innovation centers and hubs for the benefit of science and technology programs in HEIs; and

– To increase expenditures in research and development to at least the Asian average of 1.6 percent of gross domestic product.

4. Funding Post-Secondary Education

– To support the passage of the Unified Financial Assistance System for Higher and Technical Education (UniFAST) bill and other similar initiatives, which aim to unify, harmonize and increase scholarships, grants-in-aid, and loan programs of the national government for higher and technical education;

– To demand from the government rational, equitable and augmented funding support for private, state, and local HEIs, subject to quality benchmarks and merit;

– To make data on the costs of education readily available to enable policymakers to make informed decisions regarding funding; and

– To increase public expenditure per tertiary student to at least the ASEAN-5 five-year average of 27 percent of per capita gross domestic product.

5. Governing Philippine Education

– To urge the President of the Philippines to institutionalize the coordination of the Department of Education, the Commission on Higher Education and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority for the creation of solutions regarding priority issues on education, such as, but not limited to, overall system design, the transition to K-12, and multiple pathways to success and development; and

– To conduct a review of, and if warranted, reform the laws on the governance of education in the Philippines.

6. Supporting the K-12 Reform

To show our support for the continued and proper implementation of the K-12 reform, we call on the government to support transition initiatives such as the voucher system and the tertiary education transition fund. We also ask for the support and openness of labor groups, faculty unions, and the business sector to explore other concrete steps to facilitate and improve its implementation.

Thus, we the Presidents of Higher Education Institutions, hereby affix our signature as indication of our commitment towards an improved and unified higher education sector in the Philippines.

Manila, Philippines

August 15, 2014

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