TESDA’s blighted vision

BIZLINKS - Rey Gamboa (The Philippine Star) - January 28, 2021 - 12:00am

One of the major reasons we send our children to school is to give them the wherewithal to be able to fend for themselves and build a future that would be better than what we have. How we as parents motivate and inspire them still plays a big role, but at no time than now do learning institutions become all too important.

Today, with the Internet, people who have the edge to get ahead in their careers are those who brim with passion to continue learning. Knowledge building has not ended with acquiring the first diploma; instead, motivated persons look for new learning paths that will help them build better careers going forward.

Over the last decade, the country’s learning institutions have been challenged to churn out graduates who meet the demands of the working world. Unfortunately, especially for the public schools, change is something that does not come with a click of the finger.

Nowhere is this more apparent than with schools that provide technical and vocational education and learning (TVET). At its current state, most TVET schools in the country have been unable to deliver the right learning skills for quality jobs.

Broken system

It is oddly discomforting to see, for the longest time now, how many of TVET schools continue to offer classes in cooking, baking, cosmetology, hairdressing, sewing, massage therapy, and the like – churning out graduates that would likely not be able to use these skills to earn a living.

It would be interesting to find out if those who did take these courses have actually landed related jobs, or established promising businesses. We should ask schools to be accountable for the tuition fees spent by students or the government in these courses that may no longer be relevant.

For that matter, we should hold the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) accountable for allowing its accredited TVET schools to continue offering useless courses just to be able to use up its budget allocation.

The relevant question today is not how much TESDA has spent of its yearly allotment, but how well it spent taxpayers’ money. The system is broken if TESDA, as the country’s transformation leader in technical education and skills development of the Filipino workforce, is not able to effectively do its job.

‘YouTube University’

Today’s technical and vocation job market requires workers to learn quickly, and on their own. Many of them turn to and acknowledge the rise of the “YouTube University” where tutorial videos of just about any skill can be learned.

Even the more diligent students recognize the shortcomings of existing TVET schools and are turning to the YouTube University to augment their low-tech assembly learning with a better understanding of 3D printers, automation, and robotics.

The YouTube University phenomenon is something that our TVET stewards must be able to harness as is it being utilized by students and workers who realize that they cannot depend on what traditional learning institutions provide.

Acknowledging these digital-based learning tools and incorporating them in a more structured – but still flexible – system could give our work force a better edge, especially since the demands for new skills is changing at a speed that current formal education will be hard-pressed to keep up with.

Two readers’ views

At this point, we give way to two readers who have weighed in on our ongoing discussion of TVET. The first comes from Raffy dela Rosa, chairman of Richwell Colleges in Bulacan. Here are parts of what he wrote:

“I suggest that you  meet with the TESDA chairman to understand what the TESDA program is all about. Comparing it to Don Bosco is like comparing a kilo of rice to a ton of rice. Surely, Don Bosco has superb track record, but the problem is (that) Don Bosco cannot replicate itself in the many regions, provinces, and towns of the Philippines.

“But TESDA is there, with organizational infrastructure, regional and provincial offices, well structured curriculum, and a strict standard of certification called National Certification or NC which comes in NCI, NCII, and NCIII.

“You may want to check with TESDA the number of its graduates running their own SMEs (businesses), working in many companies initially as a working hands and ultimately as supervising hands. And also the hundreds of thousands working overseas and on board ships, not as laborers, but as skilled hospitality hands, restaurant chefs, bakers, pastry chef, beauty and wellness experts, superb caregivers, IT-technicians and others.

“May I invite you to visit the TESDA department in our school – Richwell Colleges in San Jose Plaridel, Bulacan. Perhaps you will be amazed that TESDA has developed superior online lessons, and is now launching a hands-on learning at the school laboratories.

“I believe that TESDA is even far ahead of DepEd (Department of Education) and CHED (Commission on Higher Education) in managing its education charter during this time of pandemic, and the TESDA region head, provincial head, and the TESDA staff are very competent, helpful, and approachable.”

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Should you wish to share any insights, write me at Link Edge, 25th Floor, 139 Corporate Center, Valero Street, Salcedo Village, 1227 Makati City. Or e-mail me at reydgamboa@yahoo.com. For a compilation of previous articles, visit www.BizlinksPhilippines.net.

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