Current Issues Affecting the Youth: Insights from the Recently Concluded 2016 PSPA International Conference
Any discourse on development inevitably involves the youth of the country. As defined by Republic Act 8044 or the Youth in Nation Building Act, the youth is “the critical period in a person’s growth and development from the onset of adolescence towards the peak of mature, self-reliant and responsible adulthood comprising the considerable sector of the population from the age of 15-30 years.” Considering that the Philippines has a long history of high fertility and high population growth rates, it can be said that the country has predominantly young population (CIA World Factbook, 2008). The youth comes out to be a major player in the country’s human capital. Given this scenario, it is thus imperative to examine pressing issues that affect the youth.
In line with this, an entire plenary in the recently concluded 2016 PSPA International Conference was devoted completely to the education of youth. The third plenary with the title of “Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and Hubs for Local Governance” delved into the evolving role of HEIs such as local colleges and universities and their corresponding tall order of ensuring accountability and good governance. Dr. Macapado Muslim of the Mindanao State University presided this session.
In his speech on “Innovations and Higher Education”, Dr. Ricardo E. Rotoras, President of the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC), discussed that HEIs should take care of building human capital. These institutions should contribute to the social and economic growth of the country. As in the case of the Mindanao University of Science and Technology, the institutions have to provide an ecosystem whereby universities serve to be instrumental in coming up with solutions to societal issues. Private and State Educational Institutions of higher learning should exist in synergy with government processes. For instance, research institutions can sponsor studies in the sciences and in technology to aid in public governance. In conclusion, he said that in order for leaders in the academe and in the government to be effective, they ought to have the following leadership principles: sense of ownership and concern, aspiration for setting higher standards, and, most importantly, desire to deliver quality results.
The second presenter, Mr. Hirofumi Takada, explained thoroughly the role of HEIs in the furtherance of local governance such as in the case of Japan’s National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS). The role of GRIPS in nation-building rests on a three-fold approach: research, participation and education. After providing the cultural and the political context for the case study, Prof. Takada explained that the GRIPS is instrumental in providing off-the-job training for leaders. This entails leaders’ interaction with people outside of their everyday routines as well as independent trainings of local government officials. The project’s goals include equipping policy professionals with expertise and breadth of vision, orienting the said professionals with inter-disciplinary and issue-oriented approaches, and lastly, serving as a global hub for policy studies. To further illustrate the GRIPS’ effective approach, he said that it has already educated leaders and career professionals from more than 60 countries.
Mr. Emmanuel de Guzman discussed thoroughly his leadership philosophy. As President of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, he talked about the challenges and opportunities of the higher education sector in carrying out an effective delivery of public service. He emphasized the effectiveness of the student body’s activism in achieving long-awaited reforms. As an example, he cited the burning of chairs by PUP student-activitists as a symbolic action against the tuition fee increase schemes and the seemingly abandonment of the state of educational reform initiatives. This had led to a more academic dialogue between the school administration and the student body. When it comes to institutional reforms, this situation illustrates clearly the very crucial mechanism of identification of stakeholders’ needs.
Lastly, Dr. Tirso Ronquillo, President of the Batangas State University, talked about the innovations and the best practices of the said institution. He emphasized strategic initiatives in achieving innovations in science and technology. These interventions are in line with the university’s goal of positioning itself at the forefront of development in their region.
The other panel that heavily discussed the concerns of the youth was the 7th session entitled Local Governance, the Academe and Education 2. The first topic was about “Women in Agriculture: Motivating Factors of Female Students Enrolled in Agriculture Courses in Northern Iloilo Polytechnic State College-Barotac Viejo Campus” by Ms. Eva Joy C. Palma and Ms. Dheevey Love B. Velasco. The speakers expressed that people have to look at another perspective in agriculture; that is, the process of how the industry attracts the youth to get engaged in it. In the case of the Northern Iloilo Polytechnic State College-Barotac Viejo Campus, it makes agriculture as its banner program wherein a significant number of female students are taking up agricultural course. According to the results of their research, family greatly influences the students with regard to their choice of an agricultural course. 76% of the respondents’ father is a farmer; 77% stated that agriculture is their first choice of career. It is also interesting to note that on the part of female students, they do not see agriculture as a male-dominated field. Their motivating factors are livelihood background, occupation of parents, and location of home (being in rural areas).
Ms. Marlene Wendam tackled the “Influence of the CHED Vertical Articulation on the Academic Performance of Students”. She stated that the Vertical Articulation provides an alternative format solution across all degree-granting units in which faculty members can share their specialization with undergraduates to doctoral degree students. Her research can be sought as a guide to administrators in hiring faculty members and in providing awareness to the teachers in taking up an aligned specialization in graduate school. Thus, having teachers who educate in their field of specialization can benefit the students more.
The third speaker, Mr. John Dave Llano, presented his study on “E-Governance of State Higher Education Institutions in Central Mindanao”. He focused on the defining role of E-Government as a service site of educational institutions in extending educational services to the stakeholders of universities.
The last presentation in this panel was that of Ms. Aleth Mamauag and of Ms. Georgina Dioses. They discussed “NBC 461 as Tools for Promotion of Faculty in SUCs: Issues and Best Practices”. They explained that the highlights of NBD 461 are compensation and position classification for faculty position in SUCs. They believe that there should be equal pay for training and experience in order to encourage professional growth among faculty members.
Finally, a presentation from the 9th Session entitled Local Governance and Best Practices 2 also tackled the youth. The presentation of Mr. Vigilio Ablaza investigated the juvenile justice system in La Trinidad, Benguet. The child abuses found in this set-up demonstrate that they severely affect the physical and psychological integrity of children. The researcher cited the United Nations Convention on the rights of a child specifically Article 37, which addresses detention and punishment, and Article 40, which addresses juvenile justice that provides for clauses on legal rights of a child. These clauses imply that states have to establish a specialized justice system for children. In the Philippines, 1,000 Filipino children are in conflict with the law, and they are placed inside cells with notorious adult criminals who abuse them physically and even sexually. The speaker highlighted that these kids were treated severely during their imprisonment instead of undergoing rehabilitation. To conclude, the speaker recommended that this topic be incorporated in academic institutions. Awareness regarding the issue creates space for people to report abuses to the right authorities. Moreover, employment and spiritual support create a friendly environment for children who lost their way. On the part of policy-makers, they have to apply specific measures to prioritize the needs of the children.
To conclude, the paper presentations revolved around the sub-themes of education, agriculture and juvenile justice system – topics that touch a familiar chord in today’s youth.
Published originally in December 2016 in Philippine Governance Digest, 4(1-4), 11-12 (with permission to re-post here)
Philippine Governance Digest is a publication of the Philippine Society for Public Administration.
Photo by 祝 鹤槐 from Pexels