Pia’s first ten bills seek sustainability, education, future-proofing PH

Ensuring the sustainability of vital government programs, raising the level of education of the youth to become globally competitive, and future-proofing the Philippines for domestic and external shocks were the overarching themes of the first ten bills filed by Senator Pia S. Cayetano in the 19th Congress.

Cayetano, who chaired the Senate’s very first committee on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Innovation, and Futures Thinking in the previous 18th Congress, bared the list of her top ten measures for the new Congress, which officially opens session on July 25, as follows:

  1. Education Roadmap Act
  2. Center for Disease Control and Prevention Act
  3. Sustainability-Based Budgeting Act
  4. Sports Excellence Roadmap Act
  5. Increasing the Minimum Age of Access to Tobacco at 21 Years Old Act
  6. Water Sustainability Act
  7. Philippine Nursing Act amendments
  8. Sustainable Cities and Communities Act
  9. Safe Pathways Network Act
  10. Sustainable Transportation Act

“These bills are forward-looking and aim to prepare our nation better for the challenges ahead, while never losing sight of our sustainable development goals,” Cayetano explained, as she noted how the country faces the confluence of global public health and socio-economic crises.

“The health measures were drawn from our hard-earned lessons in the last two years in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, and the need to further strengthen our healthcare system to provide services for our people,” she added.

She said that the proposed Education Roadmap Act aims to produce Filipino graduates who are well-rounded and competitive, amid the rapidly changing demands of industries and the knowledge-based global economy.

“Aside from acquiring the so-called ‘four Cs’ of 21st Century skills – namely, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity – this bill is primarily aimed to help our students regain our edge in English proficiency, which we are fast losing,” she emphasized.

“English proficiency is a vital skill that has made Filipino workers and professionals in demand abroad, and has prompted multinational companies to invest heavily in the country’s IT-Business Process Management industry (IT-BPM),” she noted.

For the health sector, Cayetano emphasized legislation on two fronts: strengthening our healthcare structure, and sustaining support for our medical frontliners, particularly our nurses, who comprise the backbone of our health system.

It is for these reasons that Cayetano filed the bill establishing the country’s own Center for Disease Control and Prevention or PH CDC, and proposed amendments to the Philippine Nursing Act.

To recall, it was Cayetano who principally sponsored RA 9711, the 2009 law that established the Philippines’ own Food and Drug Administration, or PH FDA – which currently plays a key role in the government’s pandemic response.

Similarly, she is pushing for the establishment of the PH CDC as the Department of Health’s lead agency for the early detection of emerging diseases, and to formulate response measures for public health emergencies.

Recognizing the need to support the needs and development of the country’s nursing professionals, Cayetano filed a bill amending the Philippine Nursing Act to provide nurses with opportunities for continuing education and professional growth, as well as recognition and commensurate compensation for their specialized areas of work.

In addition, the senator has filed a measure pegging at 21 years old the minimum age of access to cigarettes and tobacco products.

“This will protect the health and wellbeing of the youth, and will make our policy consistent with the current minimum age of access to vapes and e-cigarettes at 21 under the Sin Tax Law of 2020, or RA 11467,” the senator noted.

Senator Cayetano wants sustainability to be the guiding framework in the budget programs of both the national government and local government units (LGUs), in the planning, development, and integration of cities and communities, in reorienting vital services like mass transportation and infrastructure, and in efficiently managing the country’s water resources.

To this end, Cayetano filed the following related measures: the Sustainability-Based Budgeting Act; Water Sustainability Act; Sustainable Cities and Communities Act; Sustainable Transportation Act; and lastly, the Safe Pathways Act – which seeks to develop a national network of bicycle lanes and ‘slow streets’ to promote and ensure the safety of cycling, walking, and the use of alternative modes of mobility.

Finally, Senator Pia, together with her brother, returning Senator Alan Cayetano, have jointly authored a measure that applies the same principles of sustainability and futures thinking in the development of Philippine Sports.

The Cayetanos’ co-authored bill, the Sports Excellence Roadmap Act, aims to lay down a 20-year road map to produce elite world-class athletes, which will be anchored on a solid grassroots program, as well as sustained training, exposure, and support for our national athletes and chosen focus sports. #

Senator Pia Cayetano
Ensuring the sustainability of vital government programs, raising the level of education of the youth, and future-proofing the Philippines for domestic and external shocks were the overarching themes of the first ten bills filed by Senator Pia S. Cayetano in the 19th Congress.

Preparing PH for the futures of education

By Senator Pia S. Cayetano
Chair, Committee on SDGs, Innovation, and Futures Thinking

I rise today to report on and sponsor the findings and recommendations of the Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, Innovation and Futures Thinking, jointly with the Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, under Committee Report No. 643, on the Futures of Education.

This Committee Report examines the country’s current situation, problems, aspirations, and gathers the recommendations of experts and stakeholders during the Committee’s hearings and further study, in order to secure the best possible future for education. Interestingly, the pandemic gave us the opportunity to invite foreign experts who attended our hearings online.

Mr. President, we have filed a lengthy committee report, and also prepared a detailed sponsorship speech, but in the interest of time, I will just be quoting certain highlights of the Committee Report.

Like many countries around the world, we remain stuck in the factory model of education, a one-size-fits-all model that merely gauges the worth of students according to their test scores. The ideal future of education must instead value, recognize, and hone the individuality of each learner.

According to Dr. Peter Bishop, Founder and Executive Director of Teach the Future in Houston, Texas, “most educators and the society at large believe that the mission of education is to transmit knowledge and experience” to the next generations.

However, he noted that this view means that… “knowledge and experience is useful only to the extent that [what] the students [will] have in the future is the same as the world of the past” but in fact, “much of what schools teach their learners might actually be irrelevant if the world of the future is not the same as the past.”

The World Economic Forum (2020) states that in 10 years, automation technologies, and artificial intelligence (AI) are expected to change 50% of jobs, while eliminating 5% of them. Due to this, 9 out of 10 jobs will require digital skills. 65% of students entering primary school today will work in jobs that do not yet exist.

The Committee makes use of futures thinking as a tool that provides a way of envisioning the different futures of education, and how to achieve the best one.

The Asian Development Bank explains the importance of futures thinking, I won’t read this into the record now, but they are part of this report.

Also in the report, we traced the history of education in the Philippines. We noted that the Philippines mirrored the factory model of education, which was prevalent in the West at the time of the industrial revolution. So, now we ask ourselves using Futures Thinking tools: “what does education look like in 10, 15, 20 or 30 years from now, based on the decisions we make today? What are the new skills and competencies that future generations are going to need? How are we preparing students for jobs that do not yet exist? And what kind of learning environments will be needed?”

Surprisingly, cartoons like “Betty in High School 2021 A.D.” – this is part of the Archie Series – published in 1997, and I show this on the screen, they were able to predict in 1997 that home-based education with the use of technology would become a thing. So if you look at the screen, it shows Betty studying in front of the computer.

In the ideal future of Philippine education, students are not only learning in the classroom, since blended learning and technology allow them to study and learn in different environments.

During the pandemic the lack of interaction between students became evident. Again, this was predicted in the 1997 cartoon series of Betty in High School, wherein Betty and her friends, Archie and Veronica and the like, visited their parents’ school and marveled at the canteen where the students could mix and mingle, and talk about their projects, they marveled at the classroom setting where all the students were sitting together. Something that they were not experiencing anymore, and something that our young students have now been experiencing for the past two years because of the pandemic.

In the ideal future, curricula and courses are redesigned to address the needs of the future economies and technologies.

Teachers are more focused on teaching students 21st century skills and the 4 Cs: critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication. Learning is also more personalized to the capabilities of students.

Education is refocused away from learning one field to developing multiple abilities and skills for a variety of fields, keeping future workers adaptable to shifting work environments.

SDG 4 includes the attainment of education for all. Without a clear vision of our desired future of education, students will remain bound to classroom-based learning with little flexibility. Learners in remote areas without the ability to take advantage of technology, may find it very difficult to expand their learning environments and creativity, and learners will lack the skill set to thrive in a more competitive and connected work environment.

It should be emphasized that achieving SDG 4 on Quality Education will help us realize all the other SDGs – such as good health, sustainable cities and communities, decent work and economic growth, among others – and will empower Filipinos with the skills needed to build a successful, dignified life, contributing to not just on the national but on the global stage as well.

But still a lot of work needs to be done to achieve our preferred future. To this end, Dr. Alex Brillantes of the National College of Public Administration and Governance, University of the Philippines, emphasized the importance of cooperation, competition, and thinking globally and acting locally.

By employing futures thinking at the policy level, we can have a systematic assessment of education and its direction in light of the potentials of the future.

On this note, the Department of Education has been one of the first agencies to have created a futures office. According to Secretary Briones, this is the DepEd’s “response to the need for futures thinking in education, for readiness to confront the rapid changes, the challenges, and opportunities of the future.”

We also recognize our colleagues who have also been supportive of institutionalizing and mainstreaming futures thinking in the education sector, particularly:

Senator Gatchalian, the Chairman of [the Basic Education Committee], who has sponsored a number of education reform measures and agrees on the importance of assessing where we are, to come up with solutions to the problems we find, and to look at the future;

Senator Villanueva, the Chairman of Higher Education and TESDA, who has emphasized the need to integrate futures perspectives in higher education; and

Senator Angara, who has adopted our recommendation of funding various futures thinking initiatives in the last three years.

We have various recommendations, which are in our Committee Report. But let me just emphasize:

  • Institutionalizing and providing an enabling environment for Futures Thinking in education and relevant agencies is very important;
  • Focusing on the whole child and supporting their holistic well-being;
  • Prioritizing the knowledge, skills, and mindsets in order to develop 21st Century competencies;
  • Ensuring that our local workforce is prepared to join the global workforce through training in English proficiency and digital literacy;
  • Improving the teaching profession;
  • Taking advantage of and investing in technology and innovation to enhance education; and
  • Crafting and implementing the relevant legislation and policies, and providing the necessary budgetary support.
  • In conclusion, with the world changing and advancing so rapidly, we are faced with the choice of either adapting or being left behind.

In cultivating a better environment for education and learning, we must devote more time and resources into research, planning, and investments to take us steps closer into our preferred future of education.

While this Committee Report is far from exhaustive, the Committee hopes that it is a small step towards bettering our education system for the long-term, and challenging our current views so that we can empower Filipinos with the skills needed to build a successful, dignified life, contributing again not only to the country, but also on a global stage.

Thank you, Mr. President.#

Senator Pia Cayetano: schools should focus on teaching students 21st century skills, including the 4 Cs: critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication.

Education for all

By Senator Pia S. Cayetano

Author and Co-sponsor, RA 11650, ‘Instituting a Policy of Inclusion and Services for Learners with Disabilities in Support of Inclusive Education Act’

Every child deserves an education.

Finally, we have a law that recognizes the needs of learners with disabilities.

Although there are such schools around the country, they are not enough to meet the needs of all the children.

I have been a supporter of schools for kids with special needs even before I became a senator. That’s because my son, Gabriel was born with multiple disabilities. And though he died before he turned one, I often wondered how he or kids like him would cope in schools, many of which don’t have the training to deal with kids with learning disabilities.

This law will also create job opportunities in the education and health fields.

And of course, this can only be a success with the cooperation of the entire community.#

 

Strengthening partnerships in education

Speech for the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations of the Philippines (COCOPEA)

By Senator Pia S. Cayetano

Chair, Senate Ways and Means Committee
Sponsor, Republic Act No. 11635, granting preferential tax rates for proprietary educational institutions

Good afternoon, everyone! Thank you for having me and taking time to include me in this event, where you are taking note of the work that we’ve done. Thank you for the very kind introduction.

There’s not much really to say for me on this topic. I won’t go through it as you all know what the law is about. I think what I’d like to do now is to focus on the need for further collaboration between COCOPEA and the legislative side of government.

In my case, there are just so many laws that I feel can be implemented better. Obviously, we would like your input on how we can improve the delivery of education on these issues as well.

This law that we have just passed is evidence of our ability to work together and to address the concerns that you have. I have always said that the private sector, and of course, COCOPEA, is at the lead in terms of the group of members that you have. The private sector is our partner in the delivery of education to the Filipino people.

So your wellbeing is important to us. Because your being able to deliver your mandate effectively also allows us to also deliver our mandate as provided by the Constitution.

I’d like to point out a few issues which I feel are important, because this is just what we have done in the past months. And the outcome of that is really, like I said, just one of the many things that we can do together if we put our minds to it.

I’ll just mention some of these concerns that I have personally taken note of:

•Teen pregnancy

It’s very important that we address this concern. Not just in our country, but all over the world, teen pregnancy is still a big issue. And we already know that when we have teen pregnancies, the victim here is usually the girl because she carries out that pregnancy and her whole future is put on the line. So we must be able to educate our young people and even our teachers. The delivery of education should have that confidence and the ability to address this concern.

•Youth’s exposure to vices

The other item that I wanted to discuss is exposure to vices. Cigarettes and the new hazards, which is vaping, I hope that you can all be on board in raising awareness on the dangers of these products. Vapes are not the safer alternative for young people. There is no safer alternative to young people. It is not correct that I see so many young people thinking that this is safer for them than cigarettes, that is not the case. So I hope you can also be on board in bringing awareness to this. And of course, there is still alcohol and drugs that we need to be conscious of.

•Inclusive learning

And then, of course, there is equal access to those students who have special needs. I know that in a developing country, this really entails costs that are not part of our regular budgeting process. But I hope in due time, we can continue to strengthen our institutions so that we can address the needs of these children with special needs.

•Futures thinking for education

And then very important to me, for those who may not know, I chair a new committee in the Senate, it’s the Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, Innovation, and Futures Thinking. And it is because of my exposure to experts in this field that my knowledge has grown, I continue to be a student in search of more knowledge. But I really embrace the belief that we need to change our system of education. We can’t do it overnight, but every day we must be making steps towards the realization of our goals for these children. And really, there is no one size fits all. The more we can customize the delivery of education for the special talents and (for) the full potential of young learners, the closer we will be to really having a productive next generation.

So that is really the goal, that we are able to shift from the more traditional delivery of education to more understanding of what the special talents are, and the interests and talents these young children are born with, that we develop their skills in communication, collaboration, creativity, and so on and so forth.

•Mental health

And then the awareness on mental health issues. I know we have all become more conscious of it during this time of COVID. These had always been concerns, but there is more acceptance now on the importance of mental health, and not just physical health.

•Sports and fitness

And speaking of physical health, as many of you know, I am an avid sports advocate. I love sports myself, I engage in sports, I encourage sports among everyone of all ages, and I do believe that there is room to increase the role of sports in our curriculum, in our day-to-day life in schools. I know some schools may not have facilities that can provide a venue for all kinds of sports, but in one way or another, there are ways that we can make our children fall in love with physical activities, with being active. Especially in our country, which is gifted with beautiful outdoors. We should be able to do more of that.

So those are just a few of my top-of-mind concerns that I think we can all work with, not necessarily legislation, but really just either implementing existing laws, implementing existing policies, and if there are best practices out there, by all means, share them. We would really like to highlight these best practices in any of the areas that I’ve mentioned, and even more.

So on that note, once again, it’s been a pleasure. I always like working with associations that are very organized, that have their data. Maraming salamat for also making my work easier. So on that note, again thank you for this opportunity to serve our country better. Thank you. #

Education leaders
Senator Pia Cayetano stresses the importance of stronger partnerships in education in her speech before the assembly of private school organizations.
Senate Ways and Means Chair Sen. Pia Cayetano sponsored RA 11635, the law entitling all private schools to the preferential tax rate.

Private schools deserve full support as our partners in education

RA 11635 brings much-needed reprieve to private schools

Statement of Senator Pia S. Cayetano
Chair, Senate Ways and Means Committee
Principal sponsor, RA 11635

Private schools are the government’s partners in education. In this time of pandemic, they need as much assistance as they can get to continue delivering quality education to Filipino learners.

Thus, the enactment of Republic Act (RA) 11635 comes as a welcome development for them amid the uncertainties of the times, as rising COVID-19 cases forced us to restrict face-to-face classes to start the New Year.

This timely measure, which I sponsored, amends Section 27(B) of the National Internal Revenue Code, to clearly indicate that all proprietary educational institutions, whether for profit or non profit, shall enjoy the 10% preferential tax rate.

This shall also allow them to be covered by a provision under the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act, which reduced the tax rate of such institutions from 10% to 1% starting July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2023.

With this measure, private schools would be given much-needed reprieve to cope with the continuing challenges caused by the pandemic, starting with their own financial viability and sustainability.

It must be emphasized that this law resulted from continuous dialogue and cooperation among the various stakeholders. We worked with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the private schools, led by the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations of the Philippines (COCOPEA), to root out the issues and find a common solution.

We need to continue working with our partners in education for long-term solutions in terms of policy and budget, using strategic foresight and futures thinking to help this sector recover from the pandemic, and beyond.

This is part of our country’s commitment under Sustainable Development Goal No. 4, which is  to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all by year 2030. #

The new law will allow all private schools to be covered by a provision under the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act, which reduced the tax rate of such institutions from 10% to 1% starting July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2023.

Pia: Bill clarifies private schools’ tax rates under CREATE

Senator Pia S. Cayetano welcomed the passage of Senate Bill No. (SBN) 2407 on third and final reading on Monday (September 27), saying that the measure will clarify that all private schools – both ‘non-profit’ and ‘for profit’ – are entitled to the 1 percent preferential tax rate under the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Law, which was enacted last March.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee Chair and sponsor of SBN 2407, Cayetano acknowledged private school institutions as the government’s “partners in delivering quality education for the youth, and in molding them to become changemakers and responsible leaders of the future.”

“This partnership is even more crucial today as our nation struggles with COVID-19, which has disrupted educational systems and the formal learning of our current generation of students,” Cayetano added.

She noted that many private schools are in a critical state, citing data from the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations of the Philippines (COCOPEA) showing that enrollment among its member-schools has declined to 60 percent this school year, compared to 2020.

It may be recalled that in her sponsorship speech, Cayetano recounted the circumstances that led to the filing and approval of the tax relief measure:

•The passage of CREATE (RA 11534) on March 26, 2021, brought reprieve to proprietary educational institutions by lowering their 10% preferential tax rate to 1% for a period of 3 years, specifically from July 1, 2020 until June 30, 2023.

•On April 8, 2021,  the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) issued Revenue Regulation No. (RR) 5-2021, which specifically stated that only ‘non-profit’ proprietary educational institutions can avail of the preferential tax rate under CREATE – basing its policy on previous Supreme Court rulings.

•This then prompted the filing of SBN 2272 by Senator Sonny Angara, which sought to clarify the issue. In the hearing held by the ways and means panel on June 30, 2021, senators asked the Department of Finance (DOF) to suspend implementation of BIR’s RR 5-2021 to avert its impending ill-effects on “for profit” private schools.

•In response, DOF, through a letter to the Senate dated July 21, 2021, gave its commitment to issue the appropriate revenue regulations suspending the relevant provisions of BIR’s RR 5-2021.

•As a result, the BIR issued RR 14-2021, which suspended the inclusion of “for-profit” private schools in the regime of regular income tax.

Cayetano said that it is important to give the public a fair and full picture of the circumstances that led to the filing of Sen. Angara’s SBN 2272, which was substituted by SBN 2407 under her committee report.

She concluded by saying that SBN 2407 will help the Philippines keep track with its goal to ensure quality education, which is part of the government’s commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 4.

“This is the power of dialogue at work, involving all stakeholders,” said Cayetano, who also chairs the Senate Committee on the SDGs, Innovation, and Futures Thinking.#

Senate session hall
Senator Pia Cayetano: SBN 2407 will clarify that all private schools are entitled to the 1 % preferential tax rate under CREATE

Sponsorship of the bill clarifying the tax rate for all private schools

By Senator Pia S. Cayetano
Chairperson, Committee on Ways and Means

Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, today, I rise to sponsor and seek your support for the passage of Senate Bill No. 2407, under Committee Report No. 311, which amends Section 27(B) of the National Internal Revenue Code.

Not long ago, this chamber passed the CREATE Act, a measure that serves as our fulfillment to the overdue reforms in the country’s corporate income tax and fiscal incentives system.

In particular, CREATE provided reprieve to proprietary educational institutions in the country by lowering their 10% preferential tax rate to 1% for a period of 3 years, specifically from July 1, 2020 until June 30, 2023.

This was made in keeping with our desire to provide support for our education sector, which has been severely burdened by the disruptions caused by the pandemic. This sector continues to need as much assistance and resources as it can get in order to continue delivering quality education to Filipino learners.

Meanwhile, on 8 April 2021,  the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) issued Revenue Regulation No. 5-2021, which specifically stated that only non-profit proprietary educational institutions can avail of the preferential tax rate under CREATE, basing this on  Supreme Court decisions.

This then prompted the filing of Senate Bill No. 2272 by Senator Sonny Angara, which sought to clarify the issue. During our hearing held on June 30, 2021,  my fellow legislators and I asked the DOF to suspend the implementation of the BIR Revenue Regulation in order to avoid its impending ill effects on the “for profit” private schools.

In response, the DOF, through its letter to the Senate dated 21 July 2021, gave its commitment that in order to ease the burden of taxation among proprietary educational institutions, they shall issue the appropriate revenue regulations suspending the relevant provisions of BIR’s Revenue Regulation No. 5-2021.

As a result, the Bureau issued Revenue Regulation No. 14-2021, which suspended the inclusion of “for-profit” private schools in the regime of regular income tax.

So this Committee Report effectively clarifies that the preferential tax rate of 10% under the NIRC, which was lowered by the CREATE Act to 1% from July 1, 2020 until June 30, 2023, applies to all private schools – putting an end to the debates as to whether  “for-profit” private schools were covered or not.

Private schools are the government’s partners in education. This partnership is even more crucial today, as our nation deals with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted our educational systems and the formal learning of our current generation of students.

Thank you Mr. President. #

DND, UP officials urged to hold dialogue ‘with an open mind’

Senator Pia S. Cayetano urged officials of the University of the Philippines (UP) and the Department of National Defense (DND) to engage in dialogue with an open mind, and in the spirit of finding solutions to differences that led to the unilateral abrogation of the 1989 UP-DND accord.

“I ask both parties to come in with an open mind. Come in assuming that you have a child studying there [in UP],” Cayetano said Tuesday, as the Senate tackled a resolution expressing its sense to welcome the DND’s decision to answer various calls for a dialogue with UP on the termination of the long-standing agreement.

The senator, who earned her economics and law degrees from UP, said the unilateral abrogation of the accord “sends the wrong signal that we cannot even appreciate what was done in the past,” that led the two parties to come to an agreement in 1989.

“I read the statement of [former UP] President [Jose] Abueva on how he and [then Defense Secretary Fidel] Ramos had mutual respect for each other, and so it made it easy for them to come to this agreement. That is what we need at this time, not unilateral actions, which may be based on information that is perceived as facts by one side, but not necessarily facts on the other side,” Cayetano said.

“I am a proud graduate of UP, as so many of our other colleagues are here. UP has molded me. I was never an activist. I was more of a volleyball player, trying to get good grades. My brother, now Congressman Alan Cayetano, was an activist. So iba-iba ang nagiging experience, iba-iba din ang nagiging outcome nitong experiences namin. And we come out, in many ways, molded, inspired, touched by our experiences in UP,” the lawmaker added.

Senate Resolution No. 616, of which Cayetano manifested to be a co-author along with fellow senators, further urged both parties to revisit the accord. It also called on the DND to hold dialogues with other academic institutions to find a common ground that promotes the rule of law, peace, and security, and protects academic freedom and the pursuit of excellence.

Cayetano recalled that she brought the UP Women’s Football Team to the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) for “a light and fun exchange” between the students and the cadets.

“One of the little efforts that I have done – and I know it’s a very small effort – is I’ve brought the UP Women’s Football Team to PMA twice, so that there would be a light and fun exchange [and] getting-to-know-you among these students of UP and the cadets of PMA. That was done in the spirit of sportsmanship. I think it was a step in the right direction,” she said.

“Sana, ‘yan din ang ipakita natin, tayong mga leaders of these various institutions at the highest level. So that we can really move in that direction — in the spirit of friendship, in the spirit of finding solutions, and not just making a conclusion that ‘my way is better than your way,'” Cayetano concluded. #

Pia cites UP’s high global ranking in research citations

Senator Pia S. Cayetano congratulated the University of the Philippines (UP)  for the high scores it obtained in the latest World University Rankings for its clinical, pre-clinical, and health research citations, noting that Philippine universities have lagged behind in the area of research for the past decades, but UP is  finally putting us on the map of top universities of the world.

 

“Most of us may not be aware of it, but UP now ranks among the world’s top universities in terms of citations for clinical, pre-clinical, and health subjects,” Cayetano shared, following Monday’s (Sept. 21) Senate Committee on Finance hearing on the proposed 2021 budget for the UP system, State Universities and Colleges (SUCs), and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

 

“This is great news coming at a time when the country is realizing how investments in research are crucial to addressing public health emergencies like COVID-19. Despite UP being cited, our overall research capability as a country remains low,” added the Vice Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance overseeing the budget for health and education.

 

The senator was referring to the 2021 Times Higher Education World University Rankings (THE-WUR), wherein UP’s citation score for its clinical, pre-clinical, and health research (91.9%) ranked higher than some of the world’s top universities, including University of Oxford (74%), University of Cambridge (68.8%), and Harvard University (66.7%).

 

“UP’s high score is an indicator of the impact and influence of its research, which researchers from other countries have cited for succeeding studies and possible innovations,” she explained.

 

Cayetano added that “strategic investments in public health research and innovation would allow the country to catch up with some of our neighbors in Southeast Asia which have been able to handle COVID-19 more efficiently using advanced science and technology.”

 

“We act surprised that our neighbors, like Thailand and Vietnam, are already developing a vaccine, when in fact, we have not been investing in research laboratories for decades,” she stressed.

 

On the other hand, Cayetano noted that funding for the research budget of the 111 other SUCs in the country is very low compared to the research expenditures of some of our ASEAN neighbors.

 

“Sadly, the budget for research for all the SUCs that Senator Joel Villanueva proposed and that we supported in the 2020 budget, was one of the items that was realigned for COVID response. The same happened to the research budget for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and futures thinking,” noted Cayetano, the Chairperson of the Senate Committee on SDGs, Innovation, and Futures Thinking.

 

As reported before the committee by Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC) President Dr. Tirso Ronquillo, government funding for SUCs’ research and technical advisory extension programs represent just 3% and 2%, respectively, of the P64.7-billion proposed SUCs budget this year.

 

Overall, Dr. Ronquillo noted that the country’s budget for research and development only represents 0.16% of our GDP, which is lower compared to Singapore (1.94%), Malaysia (1.44%), Thailand (1%), and Vietnam (0.53%).

 

“Our finance committee chair, Sen. Sonny Angara understands and supports the need for funding in research. We will work together to ensure we have a strong budget for research for 2021. We already have the foundation and potential. We just need to translate these into concrete programs to better serve the needs of Filipinos,” Cayetano concluded.#

University of the Philippines (UP) President Danilo Concepcion presents a slide to Senate Finance Committee Vice Chair Sen. Pia S. Cayetano showing how UP’s citation scores for its for clinical, pre-clinical, and health subjects outranked some the world’s top universities, including Oxford, Cambridge, and Harvard in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings (THE-WUR).

Strategic foresight needed for future of education

Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Innovation, and Futures Thinking Chair Pia S. Cayetano on Thursday reiterated the importance of strategic foresight in crafting policies that will help the education sector prepare for all possible scenarios in the new normal and beyond.

Cayetano said a clear proof of the importance of Futures Thinking in the sector is the Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) initiative a few years ago to develop 132 self-learning modules on science and math subjects for grade schoolers.

DOST’s Science Education Institute (DoST-SEI) director Dr. Josette Biyo shared details of this initiative during the Senate Committee on Basic Education hearing. She said the modules were conceptualized before the pandemic four years ago, and were developed in a span of two years.

Following consultations with educators, experts, and DepEd officials, the Institute was able to develop modules, transform them into scripts, and digitize them for animation. Teachers were also trained to use the modules, which the agencies made sure would fit the K-to-12 curriculum.

“We had to tap expert teachers to conduct workshops, write lesson plans, recheck lesson plans, and transform these modules into scripts that have been digitized. After digitization, we validated it. Then in coordination with DepEd, we implemented these coursewares’ [effectiveness] in 20 schools nationwide,” Dr. Biyo shared with the panel.

Dr. Biyo said the self-learning modules for Grades 1 to 8 were already uploaded via DepEd’s learning platform, whereas the lessons for Grades 9 to 10 have yet to be digitized. The two agencies are also discussing plans to develop radio programs for learners in far-flung areas.

Cayetano, in response, commended the DOST-SEI for its strategic foresight in preparing these materials early on, stressing that planning for the future of education indeed requires years of preparation and consultations with experts.

“I want to emphasize – in all fairness to the professionals and officials from DepEd and DOST – that it is really difficult to do this overnight. Obviously, there was a plan and a foresight. All the people who decided to put this together need to be acknowledged for their effort,” the senator said.

“We can now focus our efforts on the other aspects that have not been touched. Since we already have science and math modules up to the 8th grade, maybe we can focus our attention on the remaining grades. Perhaps the private sector can also be tapped to help with this,” she added.

In relation to the future of education beyond the new normal, Cayetano expressed support for bills pending at the committee level, particularly Senate Bills 1460 (Basic Online Learning and Distance Education Act of 2020) and 1565 (Education in the New Normal Act).

She said she recognizes the intention of the proposals, which is to put in place the proper standards for distance education and innovative learning methods when crisis would disrupt our education system.

The former chair of the Senate Committee on Education, Cayetano sponsored Republic Act No. 10650 or the Open Distance Learning Act, which institutionalized distance learning in tertiary education way back in 2014. #

Senator Pia S. Cayetano said a good example of Futures Thinking is the Department of Science and Technology’s initiative four years ago to develop 132 self-learning modules on science and math subjects for grade schoolers.