Non-formal and informal learning, known in the Philippines as Alternative Learning Systems (ALS), are embedded in the Philippines constitution since 1987. The recognition, validation and accreditation (RVA) of ALS has been an essential policy direction to ensure that Filipinos are given wider access to education.
Challenges and opportunities
One in every four (25.8 per cent) of the 9.2 million Filipinos live in poverty (NAPC, 2015) while one in every 10 of the 4 million Filipino children and youth are considered to be out-of-school (PSA, 2015c). For those who manage to enter formal schooling, the challenge is how to stay in school as evidenced by the country’s drop-out rate of 24.2 per cent, one of the highest in Southeast Asia (UNESCO, n.d.). For those who manage to complete school, they face rising unemployment (6.6%) and underemployment (19.5%) rates (PSA, 2015a). As an alternative, Filipinos choose to work abroad largely as labourers and unskilled workers comprising 32.8 per cent of the 2.3 million overseas Filipino workers (OFW) (PSA, 2015b). These challenges may serve as potent opportunities for the country to further improve its education system – widening reach and access and ensuring that learning outcomes are recognized, validated and accredited.
National standards, policy and framework activity. The recent institutionalization of the Philippines National Qualifications Framework (PNQF) has led to the implementation of a nation-wide qualifications system, hinged on quality assurance measures, applied to “all institutions and systems which provide trainings, specializations, skills and competencies, and professional experience through lifelong learning” (IRR of EO No. 83, Section 5, 2012). The PNQF unites the three sectors of the Philippines education system (basic education, higher education and technical and vocational education and training [TVET]) by further developing “a system of pathways, ladders and equivalencies between qualifications and across the education sector” (Isaac, 2011).
Through the PNQF, certain alternative learning programmes are awarded the same qualification as in the formal system (Isaac, 2011). These qualifications, equivalencies and Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) are present in all the sectors of the education system: Basic Literacy Program (BLP) and Continuing Education Program Accreditation and Equivalency Test (CPE A&E) for basic education; the Expanded Tertiary Education Equivalency and Accreditation Program (ETEEAP) for tertiary education; and the awarding of National Certificates and/or Certificate of Competency for TVET.
Stakeholder engagement. Corresponding to the above three education sectors, the public management of education in the Philippines is likewise decentralized to three agencies. These are: Department of Education (DepEd) for basic education; the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) for higher education; and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) for TVET. These agencies ensure improved policy-making, planning and programming at the local level.
In addition to the three departments mentioned, the implementation of the PNQF is also the responsibility of the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) and the Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE). Industries, chambers and professional associations are also involved to ensure the alignment of educational outcomes to job requirements in the market. Coordination with parents and employers as stakeholders is also important (Isaac, 2011) while establishing and maintaining linkages among implementers of the National Qualification Frameworks (NQF) from other countries and those in the region.
Funding the implementation of the PNQF and all its components is the responsibility of DepEd, TESDA and CHED. In 2014, DepEd had the highest budget among all the government departments in the country (DBM, n.d.).
Commission on Higher Education (CHED). n.d. Expanded Tertiary Education Equivalency and Accreditation (ETEEAP). http://www.ched.gov.ph/index.php/projects-programs/programs/expanded-tertiary-education-equivalency-and-accreditation-eteeap/ (Accessed 19 May 2015).
Department of Budget and Management [DBM]. n.d. Summary of Allocations.
Department of Education [DepED]. n.d. ALS Programs. http://www.deped.gov.ph/als/programs (Accessed 19 May 2015).
Executive Order No. 83. 2012. Institutionalization of the Philippine Qualifications Framework. http://www.gov.ph/downloads/2012/10oct/20121001-EO-0083-BSA.pdf
Implementing Rules and Regulations of Executive Order No. 83. S. 2012. http://www.gov.ph/2012/12/17/implementing-rules-and-regulations-of-executive-order-no-83-s-2012/ (Accessed 18 May 2015).
Isaac, I. 2011. The Philippine National Qualifications Framework. Paper presented at the International Conference on Implementation of NQF Policies and Strategies.
Manasan, R. 2000. Basic Education: Improving Quality and Quantity. Policy Notes: Philippine Institute of Developmental Studies. 2000-20. pp. 1-10.
National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC). 2015. Poverty Count. http://maps.napc.gov.ph/drupal/articles/poverty-count-0 (Accessed 19 May 2015).
Philippine Statistics Authority [PSA]. 2015a. Labor and Employment. http://census.gov.ph/statistics/survey/labor-force (Accessed 19 May 2015).
PSA. 2012. The 2010 Census of Population and Housing Reveals the Philippine Population at 92.34 Million. http://census.gov.ph/content/2010-census-population-and-housing-reveals-philippine-population-9234-million (Accessed 19 May 2015).
PSA. 2015b. Total Number of OFWs Estimated at 2.3 Million (Results from the 2014 Survey on Overseas Filipinos). http://census.gov.ph/content/total-number-ofws-estimated-23-million-results-2014-survey-overseas-filipinos%C2%B9(Accessed 19 May 2015).
PSA. 2015c. Out-of-School Children and Youth in the Philippines (Results from the 2013 Functional Literacy, Education and Mass Media Survey). http://census.gov.ph/content/out-school-children-and-youth-philippines-results-2013-functional-literacy-education-and (Accessed 19 May 2015).
TESDA. n.d. Philippine TVET Qualification and Certification System (PTQCS). http://www.tesda.gov.ph/uploads/File/PHILIPPINE%20TVET%20QUALIFICATION%20AND%20CERTIFICATON%20SYSTEM.pdf(Accessed 19 May 2015).
Source: UNESCO UIL