Press Release
May 17, 2017

Sen. Joel Villanueva's sponsorship speech on Philippine Qualifications Framework Bill

PQF: A Blueprint for Success of the Global Filipino

Introduction and Updates on the PQF

Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, it is my honor and privilege to sponsor Senate Bill No. 1456 under Committee Report No. 80 or "The Philippine Qualifications Framework or PQF Act of 2016".

I would like to thank our Chairman of the Committee on Education, Arts and Culture, Senator Francis Escudero, for giving priority to this very important piece of legislation, which I believe, is a big dream for our education sector.

I fervently hope that we can make this dream come true by making the PQF, the blueprint for success of every Filipino, inherent in our educational and training system.

Mr. President, the PQF is a product of collaboration and synergy of several government agencies like DOLE, TESDA, PRC, DepEd and CHED. Our friends and partners from the academe and industries also gave their valuable time and expertise for the continuous development of the PQF.

Kahit noong wala pa tayo sa Senado, bukambibig ko na po itong PQF. Noong 16th Congress, binalak nating dalhin ito sa kongreso para maisabatas. Pero dahil kulang na rin sa panahon, tiniyak na lang natin na magpatuloy ang trabaho ng National Coordinating Council ng PQF. Malaking hakbang sa trabaho ng kasalukuyang PQF-NCC na makarating dito sa floor ang panukalang batas na ito.

Malaking tulong po ito para mapabilis ang progreso ng ating PQF:

While we already have structures and processes that have been documented and agreed upon, our qualification framework is yet to be operationalized. In ASEAN, the PQF is at the same level as Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand. Malaysia's qualification framework has been fully implemented and is already in its advanced stage since they shifted to outcomes-based qualifications since 2007. Singapore's Workforce Skills Qualifications System was inaugurated as early as 2005.

Mr. President, the Philippines, together with other ASEAN member states, has established a National Qualifications Framework as the direct result of the interest in the creation of the free flow of skilled labour through "harmonisation and standardisation".

Along with these developments has been the endorsement of the ASEAN Qualifications Reference Framework (AQRF) implemented from 2016 which created an impetus to ASEAN member states to either develop NQFs, like us, or review their NQFs, like Malaysia.

Evolution of the PQF

Mr. President, obviously, our PQF is a work-in-progress but it's not actually a recent development in the education sector. It has progressed since TESDA implemented reforms leading to a quality assured competency-based TVET system in 1998.

The PQF was born in TESDA when in 2004, the agency adopted the Philippine TVET Qualifications Framework (PTQF) with four levels of qualifications: National Certificates I to IV based on units of competency developed with industry stakeholders.

Then, it expanded through Executive Order No. 358 also in the year 2004, institutionalizing the interface between TVET and higher education through a unified National Qualifications Framework with equivalency pathways and access ramps for a Ladderized System.

In 2012, former President Benigno Aquino III issued Executive Order No. 83 to institutionalize the Philippine Qualifications Framework through the creation of a high-level PQF-NCC.

In 2014, eventhough the PQF is not yet fully operational, it has already been embedded in Section 4 of Republic Act 10647 or the Ladderized Education Act of 2014.

Now, Mr. President, I'm glad that we have an on-going legislative work for the institutionalization of the PQF and I urge your support for this particular measure.

Historical Context and Emergence of the NQFs

Mr. President, allow me to give you an overview or a context for the emergence of National Qualifications Framework or NQFs so that we can better appreciate the importance of having our own national qualifications framework aligned with international qualifications framework like the AQRF.

At present, Mr. President, over 150 countries are now developing, or have developed, a National Qualifications Framework according to UNESCO.

As you very well know, the process of globalization was accompanied by the strengthening of economic and financial linkages within geographic regions. Of course, the breakdown of borders resulted to a world economy that is simultaneously becoming more regionalized and more globalized.

It also caused the formation of regional economies like the European Economic Community and of course, our very own ASEAN Economic Community which is the latest and still a very young community.

This trend towards regional integration provided the impetus for the development of NQFs. That's why qualifications frameworks are not just at national level, there are also regional qualifications frameworks. Their main purpose is to help people moving from one country to another to work, or to continue their education or training.

In this regard, Mr. President, globalization or regionalization profoundly emphasizes the shift from education to learning and from learning to lifelong learning because the world changes very rapidly and we need more and more individuals who are equipped with the "21st century skills" such as life and career skills, learning and innovation skills and information, media and technology skills.

Hence, the development of National Qualifications Frameworks (NQFs) has been a major international trend in reforming national education and training systems. And it's not too late for us to further develop our PQF and make it fully operational especially in the midst of reforms and advancement in our education system.

Now, because of the breakdown of borders and increased labor mobility, there is a high demand for comparability. Due to greater mobility of people - students, workers, professionals are moving, the question is whether their qualifications are also the same as the qualifications of other countries.

For this reason, and as reflected in this bill, we want to institutionalize the PQF to deepen support to the national and international mobility of Filipino workers through increased recognition of the value and comparability of Philippine qualifications.

Mr. President, we know for a fact that when a Filipino goes to another country to work, comparability of his or her qualifications overseas becomes a big isssue. And it is in this context that we have an increasing importance of qualifications framework like the PQF, and eventually, it will be "referenced" with the ASEAN Regional Qualifications Framework (AQRF). This is also one of the reasons why we have Mutual Recognition Agreements or MRAs which were developed ahead of the ARQF.

As I've said, we already have the ASEAN Qualifications Framework which is now in transition. It is about to be implemented like the European Framework. Our plan, together with Thailand and Malaysia, is to have our PQF referenced with the AQRF by 2018 (Bautista, 2017).

What is the PQF?

Essentially, the development of the PQF has been influenced by globalization and rapid technological developments as well as the ASEAN Economic Community. And with that as a background, Mr. President, let me explain the PQF as a set or package of national standards and levels for outcome of education.

FIRST, the PQF is a national instrument for the development and classification of qualifications according to a set of criteria or standards of learning achieved or qualification outcome within the educational system.

Kapag sinabi nating qualification, ito po iyong mga certificates, degrees, diploma, formal awards na natatanggap ng isang indibidwal. Sa PQF, isinasalin ang mga qualifications na ito sa mga "statements of learning outcomes" at ang mga kaakibat na rekwayrments para makuha ang mga "learning outcomes" na ito. Kasama rito ang performance sa isang pagsusulit. At ito ang dahilan kung bakit kasama ang PRC sa mga bumuo sa PQF o mga requirements upang makapasok o umangat sa trabaho ang isang indibidwal.

Second, the PQF is a hierarchy of levels of complexity of learning with level descriptors that include cognitive, functional, personal and ethical competencies.

May iba't ibang antas o lebel ang PQF depende sa teyoretikal na kaalaman, iyong tinatawag na "know-how" o kakayahang makagawa ng isang partikular na gawain. Kasama din iyong pag-uugali o ang wastong pagdadala ng sarili sa iba't ibang sitwasyon at maging iyong mga pagpapahalaga o "values" ng isang indibidwal.

Third, the PQF consists of 8-Level Qualifications Descriptors which is envisioned to give an individual the option to finish courses with a National Certificate 1 [ Level 1 ], NC2 [ Level 2 ], NC3 [ Level 3 ], NC4 [ Level 4 ] or graduate with a Diploma or Degree [ Level 5 ], Baccalaureate Degree [ Level 6 ], post-Baccalaureate Degree [ Level 7 ] or a Doctoral Degree [ Level 8 ]. ??

Sa PQF, ang Grade 12 po ang base o Level 1. Sa K-12 Curriculum po kasi, ipinasok na po natin ang tech-voc sa Senior High School. Samakatuwid, ang Levels 1-4 ay tech-voc at ang Levels 6-8 ay higher education. Iyon pong level 5 ang interface ng tech-voc at higher education.

Clearly, the PQF will harmonize and weave together basic education, technical-vocational education and higher education into a unified, quality-assured system.

For our students, the framework provides a clear picture of the competencies they need for the jobs they want while employers can easily identify the competencies their employees must possess.

Implication of the PQF to jobs

Mr. President, under the PQF, individuals can also get credits for working which I repeatedly mentioned during our committee hearings and discussions about the PQF. And right now, our inter-agency team is working intensively on the development of "pathways" and "equivalencies".

We also included this in the proposed measure, Mr. President, to support the development and maintenance of pathways and equivalencies, which provide access to qualifications and assist people to move easily and readily between the different education and training sectors and between these sectors and the labor market.

In fact, any person can get out of the formal education and come back as he or she gets credits from his or her work. In short, Mr. President, the PQF offers a very flexible system where a Filipino can benefit from formal, non-formal and even informal learning opportunities.

For example, a tricycle driver studies and finishes a tech-voc course in small engine repair, and then establishes his own repair shop. After a few years, he decided he wanted to pursue his studies to be an engineer. The college or university should evaluate his credential in the tech-voc school as a mechanic and credits the relevant subjects when he pursues college. And when he graduates as an engineer and gets a license, his license should be one that would be recognized when he works abroad, say, in Singapore or Thailand.

Sa kasalukuyan po kasi, Mr. President, hindi madali ang paglipat mula sa isang qualification patungo sa isa pa dahil may mga bakod na naghihiwalay sa ating education sector. Kaya't ang isang NC III holder sa automotive ay mahihirapang magpatuloy sa BS Mechanical Engineering dahil sa kawalan ng sistema ng credit transfer. Gayundin, ang lahat ng mga pagsasanay sa trabaho na nakuha ng isang indibidwal sa kumpanyang pinagtratrabahuhan ay hindi pa lubos na kinikilala ngayon ng ating mga education at training institutions o iyong tinatawag natin na recognition of prior learning. But this is one promise of the PQF, Mr. President, that if widely accepted, it can bridge lifelong learning and enhance the link between education and the economy or the labor market. This will put an end to our perennial problem of job-skills mismatch.

And to make this happen, we are proposing adequate appropriation to be in place to allow the PQF-NCC to fulfill its functions, especially their on-going work on pathways and equivalencies.

Benefits of the PQF

Mr. President, the institutionalization of the PQF will bring several benefits to students and workers, training providers and the government.

The PQF will pave the way for every Filipino to become a lifelong learner by allowing him or her to start at the level that suits him or her and then build-up his or her qualifications as his or her needs and interests develop and change over time. It's also good for the employers by assuring that standards and qualifications are consistent with job requirements or demand.

Our education and training providers will also benefit from the PQF by ensuring transparency in training provision, conformance to standards and accountability for learning outcomes. The framework will also provide them with common understanding of policies and guidelines on credit transfers, articulation, portability, bridges, pathways and recognition of prior learning (RPL). For the government, the PQF will provide the standards, taxonomy and typology of qualifications as bases for granting approvals to providers and stakeholders.

Most importantly, the PQF can change the mindset that undermines technical vocational education and privileges formal education only.

Hindi po talaga lahat ay kailangang mag-kolehiyo dahil unang-una, ang mga trabaho po, na kadalasan ay mas malaki pa ang kita, ay mas binibigyang-daan ng tech-voc kaysa sa mga kurso sa kolehiyo. Ito ay dahil industry-oriented ang mga tech-voc programs. Malaking tulong ang PQF para sa bawat pamilyang Pilipino na makabuo ng wastong desisyon tungkol sa pagtataguyod ng karera ng mga kabataang Pilipino.

Mr. President, as I've mentioned, the PQF is a work in progress and there are many challenges ahead of us such as skills mismatch, absence of criteria and institutional pathways for recognition of prior learning, lack of labor mobility, etc., that may be impossible to overcome if we do not institutionalize the PQF through this measure.

We believe that this bill should become a law to intensify the support to the PQF and engage more stakeholders in the process. After all, Mr. President, the PQF is a product of collaboration and what we need is to deepen this synergy for us to succeed in having a national qualifications framework, a blueprint for success, of the global Filipino.

Pagtulungan po nating itaguyod ang ating PQF, ang hagdan ng bawat Pilipino paakyat sa mas maganda at matatag na kinabukasan.

Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, I urge your support for the immediate passage of Senate Bill No. 1456.

Maraming salamat po at pagpalain tayo ng Panginoon.

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