The Second Congressional Commission on Education (Edcom II), established by Republic Act No. 11899, has highlighted politics, bureaucracy, and overregulation as key barriers to the proper implementation of education-related policies and reforms. The commission, composed of five senators and five congressmen, launched a three-year comprehensive national evaluation of the education sector’s performance, with plans to deliver tangible recommendations by 2025.
Executive Director Karol Mark Yee, during a July 13 webinar, introduced the commissioners, including Senators Sherwin Gatchalian, Francis Escudero, Sonny Angara, Pia Cayetano, and Joel Villanueva, and Representatives Roman Romulo, Mark Go, Jose Benitez, Khalid Dimaporo, and Pablo Garcia. An advisory council comprising experts from academia, industry, government agencies, local authorities, and civil society organizations supplements the commission’s expertise.
Halfway into the evaluation process, Edcom II flagged the politicians themselves as partially accountable for the condition of the education sector. Yee commented, “They know that and they say it themselves. They admit to it and they all agree that [this also applies to their colleagues, too]”. He also distinguished between “good” and “bad” politics within the sector.
Edcom’s chief legal officer, Joseph Noel Estrada, acknowledged the dual nature of politics in education. He noted the positive potential, especially in terms of funding, as Congress controls the budget. Nonetheless, the challenge is to encourage the right programs without compromising educational goals and aspirations, he stressed.
Yee raised the issue of overregulation, attributing it to a lack of trust in the capability and accountability of teachers and educators, leading to a deficit-based mindset rather than one of empowerment.
Further, Edcom II identified excessive red tape as a significant problem. As public schools function as government agencies, they are subject to complex hiring, planning, and procurement processes governed by the Department of Budget and Management, National Economic and Development Authority, and the Civil Service Commission.
Yee remarked, “Most of the challenges we face require follow-through across administrations, and we know this is a problem. Whenever there is a change in administration, there is a shift in direction and priorities. What happens then?”
The commission has outlined 28 priority areas to inform its assessment and policy reform proposals. These areas span early childhood care, basic and higher education, teacher training, technical and vocational education, and governance and finance.
Edcom II has highlighted several priority bills in Congress, partnered with universities and the Philippine Institute for Development Studies for research studies, and planned local site visits and consultations until September. Yee emphasized the value of examining successful educational models in other countries with similar contexts, such as Chile, Indonesia, and Vietnam.