As the ASEAN integration draws nearer, higher education institutions (HEIs) in the Philippines will soon open up to different foreign students, hastening the evolution of regional educational standards. To address this, the Nigerian Embassy, faculty from the University of Pretoria, South Africa, and UA&P organized an education forum last October 22 to discuss quality education and quality assurance from a global perspective, as well as the quality of Philippine educational outcomes in comparison to other ASEAN countries.
Guest speakers included Dr. Everard Weber and Dr. Samuel Adeyemo of the University of Pretoria. Dr. Weber talked about quality assurance in education in South Africa and how the fall of the Apartheid regime called for changes in assumptions, culture, pedagogy, curriculum, and services in colleges and universities.
Dr. Adeyemo presented statistics to show how Philippine higher education must be improved to be competitive alongside other ASEAN countries. He also referred to a 2012 World Bank report which compared Philippine educational outcomes with those of Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam. While the Philippines rated quite high on communications skills, scores for creativity, IT, leadership, and problem-solving skills were relatively low.
The open forum that followed centered on quality improvement and cultural dialogue. Dr. Abigail De Leon of the UA&P School of Law and Governance noted that there are currently no bills in the Senate or in Congress suggesting a national framework for adapting education towards ASEAN integration, while University President Dr. Jose Maria Mariano emphasized the need to know the cultures and literatures of other ASEAN countries.
Nigerian Ambassador to the Philippines Akinyemi Farounbi, OON, also urged the educators present to be sensitive to the needs of foreign students by providing consistent classroom instruction in English. According to him, the Philippines stands a good chance of easily adapting to ASEAN integration since Filipino families prioritize education.
Other guests present at the education forum were Minister Silas Anche and Adefila Isaac Adefolarin of the Nigerian Embassy; Dr. Darlington Odashile of the Philippine-Nigerian Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Dr. Giovanna Fontanilla, Joanna Preo, and Cel Lanuza of the University of Santo Tomas; Dr. Archimedes David, Dr. Carmela Dizon, and Africa Castillo of Angeles University Foundation, and; Dr. Antonio Torralba, Dr. Fe Gladys Golo, and Millie Claro of UA&P.