FORMER UST Rector Fr. Rolando De la Rosa, O.P. urged Thomasians to join advocacies for “real” reform of higher education in the country.

De la Rosa, a former Commission on Higher Education (Ched) chair, said the Ched has very good intentions to reform higher education in the country but said the “lack of broad legislative support from the government and a strong political will for reform cause the dismal state of Philippine higher education today”.

“The crisis in education is not primarily economic, financial, or technological,” De la Rosa said in the lecture titled “The State of Philippine Higher Education Today” last Feb. 10 at the Albertus Magnus auditorium. “Ched has a lot of deals to be acted upon by Congress but until now they are just there gathering dust.”

According to De la Rosa, statistics show there has been little improvement in the number of students who become professionals in the past five years. He said that about 58 per cent of the 19 per cent of students who graduate from high school and enroll in college eventually obtain their degrees. He added that only 35 of 100 students who will graduate from college will become professionals.

He also said the faculty development status of the country was quite dismal since only 29.8 per cent of professors in the country have obtained master’s degrees and 9.21 per cent have doctorate degrees.

De la Rosa stressed that legislators should pursue the Ched’s proposal to define the types of Philippine public higher educational institutions because the “unmitigated increase of educational franchises aggravates the poor quality of education”.

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“Some unscrupulous owners of schools just hire a condominium or a floor in a building. (These schools) only have computers and do not even have professors,” De la Rosa said. “I call these educational franchises now the Mcdonald’s and Jollibee type of education system.”

De la Rosa also explained the need to maintain a single state college or university for every region because the increasing number of state institutions established every year will cause competition among the schools for government subsidy taken from the budget alloted for tertiary education.

To overcome the crisis, De la Rosa suggested the three agencies on education, Ched, Department of Education, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, come together to formulate a more coherent, related and coordinated program for reform.

The 38th St. Thomas More annual lecture was organized by the Faculty of Arts and Letters. Former lecturers include Magsaysay laureate Bienvenido Lumbera (1968), National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin (1981), the late Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin (1982) and former president Corazon Aquino (1986). Edsel Van D.T. Dura

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