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Business group backs education oversight bill

PHILSTAR

AN INDUSTRY association backing education reform said Congress and Malacanang must prioritize a bill that proposes to grant legislators oversight over education, which was among the sectors hardest hit by the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic.

The Philippine Business for Education (PBEd) urged President Rodrigo R. Duterte Thursday to certify as urgent House Bill 10308 or the proposed Congressional Oversight Committee on Education Act, which is awaiting second reading.

PBEd Chairman Ramon R. del Rosario, Jr. said that while there are positive developments in the industry such as the pilot reopening of schools on Nov. 15, the committee is needed to drive quality reforms in education.

“Let us call for an independent assessment (mechanism) for learning so that we can better diagnose our weaknesses and come up with targeted solutions,” he said in a news conference.

PBEd warned earlier this year that the education sector is “in a serious crisis” featuring declining access and quality, citing the findings of the Programme for International Student Assessment in 2018, which concluded that 72% of 15-year-olds in the Philippines are low achievers in Reading, Math, and Science.

The measure, if signed, would lead to the formation of a Congressional oversight committee tasked with reviewing, assessing, and recommending courses of action to education agencies such as the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education for three years.

The Senate also has a counterpart bill pending at the committee level.

A similar group was formed in 1990 known as the Congressional Commission on Education, which recommended alternative learning modes, promotion of Filipino as a mode of instruction, and additional funding for basic education programs, among others.

PBEd also called for amendments to the measure to include education stakeholders along with the private sector in the composition of the proposed committee.

“Proper representation… ensures that practical and theoretical expertise from the ground is heard. It also facilitates the implementation of reforms because the recipients are involved not just in the discussions, but in the outcomes,” Mr. Del Rosario said.

Pasig City Rep. Roman T. Romulo, chairman of the House Committee on Basic Education and Culture, said that he was open to the suggestion as it would further discussions on the education sector despite the upcoming elections.

“While politicians are busy with elections, maybe our private partners will be able to proceed with this bill so that the next administration has something to consider because there must be many things that are reviewed to see how it is working,” he said.

However, he said that there should be a mechanism for determining which representatives from the private sector are selected for the committee. He expressed confidence that the bill will be passed by the House before the year ends. — Russell Louis C. Ku

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