A LEADING conglomerate recently highlighted the importance of public-private partnerships (PPP) in tackling the current learning debacle in the country.
On January 25 PHINMA Education led a policy convention: the “Private Education Towards Nation Building” forum that ushered and ignited discussions on ways the national government and nonstate tertiary education institutions could complement one another to elevate the academic system nationwide.
Based on a 2022 study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, investments in learning had increased for more than two decades, with educational expenditures rising by about 6.4 percent annually within the last 15 years alone.
This exceeded the growth in per capita income of Filipino households. With them bearing the brunt of these expenses, the nation’s performance in global standardized rating for learners has turned poor. In fact, the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment ranked the Philippines as the lowest among 79 participating nations in reading comprehension, and second-lowest in both mathematical and scientific literacy.
“While the public sector’s education spending per person in the country has grown robustly over the past 25 years, we continue to perform poorly in international standardized student assessments,” said Ramon R. del Rosario Jr., chairman and CEO of PHINMA Corp. “This is a clear indicator that we have much to do, [with] increasingly little time to do it.”
To help address this concern, Global Schools Forum program director Kavita Rajagopalan cited the importance of foundational education—or teaching the basic literacy, numeracy and transferable skills to school kids—in the Philippine setting.
“Eighty-six percent of education innovations originate in the nonstate sector,” Rajagopalan said. “[It] is a powerful partner for driving the innovation in education needed to end the learning crisis.”
She further explained the need to build and scale alliances with government and ministries of education in terms of both PPP and technical advisory.
For Asian Development Bank’s education specialist for Higher Education Meekyung Shin, almost all developing economies in Asia Pacific region are middle-income countries, which means that they face surplus in lower-level skills and major shortages in higher level skills.
“As successful countries like Korea and Japan have shown, private education plays a critical complementary role in improving access, quality and relevance of higher education,” Shin stated.
As such, PHINMA acknowledges the fact that uplifting the country’s state of education is not the sole responsibility of the government, but also the business community and other stakeholders involved.
“We in the private sector believe that we can contribute to changing the course of history,” del Rosario Jr. pointed out. “Private education institutions can complement the public sector in improving the quality of education in the country.”
PHINMA Education’s president and CEO Dr. Chito B. Salazar could not agree more, as he noted that “there should be complementarity between the private and public sectors, where the [former] can offer education services that normally come from public schools.”
“This is so the government will not need to build or produce new schools,” Salazar emphasized. “The public and private sectors need to work together to really maximize our efforts, facilities and resources to solve the learning crisis.”
The multisectoral conference drew more than 150 education leaders and stakeholders, including heads of the Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities, Philippine Business for Education, Private Education Assistance Committee, and Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines.