Friday, April 15, 2022

A Call to Action: Review the trifocal education system in the Philippines


The main purpose of higher education in the Philippines is to enable individuals to develop their capabilities for effective participation in the workforce, for constructive contributions to society, and for personal growth and fulfillment; to advance knowledge and understanding, and aid to the application of knowledge. Have you ever wondered what is wrong with the Philippine educational system? It is unfortunate that there is a need for Filipinos to review the trifocal system of education in the country. There is also a clamor for technical vocational instructors in the Philippines for mastery and expertise--that qualified instructors with enough experience and skilled professionals would be the ones who handle the tech-voc classes and training to be able to produce globally-competitive graduates. In fact, technical vocational education must be professionally accredited and issue proper licensing. 

Image taken from

TESDA (Technical Education Skills Development Authority) is mismanaged. The current curriculum overlaps the offered courses in Senior High School with the training courses offered by TESDA itself. Without mastery of the course--students 'graduates' from tech-voc courses groping in the dark looking for clues on how different the skills they were taught with very basic skills at the most when they start working in the so-called 'real world.' TESDA has to ensure that the qualification being studied is not only nationally but also internationally recognized. As a tech-voc student, TESDA must assure that they have high-quality education and job training. Ideally, with a tech-voc certificate, you must have knowledge and skills for initial work, while at least having a license (and not just an NCII or NCII accreditation/certificate) must give you the practical and theoretical skills for more specialized skilled work. 

A tech-voc certificate supposedly provides one with more thorough knowledge in your area of study. A diploma that will prepare you for industry, industry, and paraprofessional careers. The length of studies varies from a few weeks to two years, meaning they're great if you want to jump straight to work. Sadly, it is looked down upon by most Filipinos. 

So what exactly makes tech-voc education different from acquiring a college diploma? 

TVET courses typically focus on the practical skills that you will need for certain industries, whereas higher education (college/universities) tends to place a stronger emphasis on theory and analysis. TVET education may also mean that you will gain straight into real-life work scenarios for 'on-the-job training' or immersion. 

If only our technical-vocational institutes (TVI) are managed and monitored well, we would've been able to produce world-class and skilled graduates who can compete strongly against our neighboring countries. Tech-voc graduates fill an important role in different industries in the country and overseas. And if our tech-voc graduates become job-ready and globally competitive, they could contribute a lot to the national income and economy.

Tech-voc training is specifically designed so that one must get ahead of the game by giving you the skills you need to successfully work in high-demand industries or become an entrepreneur and start a small business. TVET training offers you the opportunity to learn specific and practical job skills. It's the perfect route for individuals looking for a quicker path into the workforce and a focus on real-world and industry-based skills. It is an alternative pathway into university/college because earlier entry into the workforce, as techvoc often takes less time to complete than a university or college degree. 

Tech-voc hindi bobo

Tech-voc graduates are looked down as second-class citizens whose products and services are questioned and doubted for their quality and efficacy. The public perception has not been kind to TVET graduates in the Philippines.  TVET is a service-oriented professional occupation. This reality is so unfair because it does not necessarily mean that a baccalaureate degree holder is intelligently superior to a vocational graduate. Innovation in tech-voc education and training programs and curricula is a must. It's about time we wake up and make a change for a better quality tech-voc education in the Philippines. 

The Philippines can start the development of diploma courses based on the PQF and Ladderized Education on TVET service-oriented sectors/industries like housekeeping, culinary arts, emergency medical services, cosmetology, construction services, automotive, electronics, and tourism, information technology, executive assistantship among many others. The government must also make a regulatory board where experts will seat as consultants and each industry will police, mandate, and train regulations and assessment methods. 

A Successful Tech-voc graduate
The flexibility of technical vocational courses enabled Ronelle Rose H. Nacis to take higher education after she finished senior high school. Like most senior high students, Nacis was unsure which career path would be right for her. With a love of working with her hands, she used the flexibility of technical-vocational training to pursue cookery because she had always envisioned herself managing her own business someday.

Ronelle Rose H. Nacis during her cookery course

According to Nacis, some of the greatest challenges she had faced as a tech-voc student were the discrimination in academic aspect as well as struggling financially. "I took up technical-vocational course instead of pursuing college because of financial difficulties. I learned about tech-voc training so it had sparked my interest and signed up right away," recalls Nacis. Thus, Ronelle Rose H. Nacis took up Cookery at the University of Makati. 

"Techvoc students are as capable as college students," Nacis emphasized. "Tech-voc students are also more flexible." 

Her training has helped her develop courage, determination, and the fire that fuels her to reach for her dreams. She knew what she was meant to be, to be an entrepreneur someday. Nacis started her business in 2020 because she wanted to utilize the knowledge and skills she has acquired in her business.

Nacis says, "Do not be discouraged even if you did not finish College. As long as you have the skills and the right attitude to work, you will get your dream. The aim is to give you a wide range of skills and experiences so you can figure out on your own what you really want to do. The tech-voc training will help you get to develop your skills but in the end, you have to do your own job. You have to keep your work to your heart. With the right attitude, perseverance, talent, and perhaps, sheer luck, anything is possible!"

These days, Nacis is bent on developing her business acumen with her Ching's Baked Goodies, a thriving business she began two years ago. It is doing well offering affordable customized cakes and cupcakes for special occasions based in Taguig City. 

Indeed, people like Nacis are proof or evidence that tech-voc graduates can also be equally successful (or even better) than college or university graduates. If only, TESDA would be managed properly by the right people, with the mastery, knowledge and skills and licensing be nationally recognized for tech-voc qualification--it can lead to greater employability, job security, earning potential, and choices for work options for many individuals and in a way, it will surely give Filipinos a better life. 

Disclaimer: I am not compensated for this post. The opinions expressed are 100% my own. I was privileged to interview Nacis via email. 

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