On the first day of the 2nd Lasallian Education Symposium, held at the University of St. La Salle on July 18, 2023, Third District Representative Jose Francisco ‘Kiko’ Benitez shared compelling insights addressing critical challenges and interventions for the country’s education system.
Speaking before the audience, Rep. Kiko Benitez emphasized three major contexts that demand careful consideration for the country’s education system.
The first. he highlighted, is the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and the VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) world – with technological advancements like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and social media shaping the way we live and work. Benitez urged educators to embrace the changes and adapt pedagogy to suit the evolving landscape.
The second, he addressed, is the ongoing pandemic and its impact on education. Benitez shared concerning statistics that suggest a learning deficiency of up to 6 years post-pandemic, with only 10% of 10-year-olds reading at their appropriate grade level. He stressed the need to recover from this learning setback to ensure the future workforce remains competitive.
The third context Rep. Benitez emphasized the need to reevaluate traditional models of education. With the pandemic shifting the dynamics of home life and increasing mental health issues among students, schools have taken on a more significant role in supporting socioemotional development. The scarcity of guidance counselors poses a challenge in providing much-needed support to students.
“Schools have had to carry on that burden, that historically they were not doing in the past. There has therefore been an increase in mental health issues as young as grade school and highschool which of course intensifies if it is not dealt with and accumulates over time as they get older.”
In response to these contexts, Rep. Benitez proposed three major categories of intervention to strengthen Negros Occidental’s education system:
First is to embrace the 4IR and VUCA World. Rep. Benitez emphasized the importance of adapting to technological changes and redefining the concept of humanity in an ever-changing world.
Second is to strengthen the Academe-Industry Link. To address the job skills mismatch between industry demands and academic preparation, he called for institutional frameworks that bridge the gap between academic institutions and the industrial job market.
Lastly is to adopt a Lifelong-Learning Model. Rep. Benitez advocated for a lifelong-learning approach, encouraging continuous learning from prenatal to postgraduate levels and even in the workplace. This includes exploring micro-credentialing, modularization, and smooth transitions between formal and informal education.
“We must begin to think in terms of cultivating the entirety of the human from prenatal to post-graduate and in work. Therefore, the Philippine education system should take seriously a lifelong-learning model, and explore as many modalities as that might entail.” said Benitez.
The symposium provided a platform for crucial discussions on the future of education in Negros Occidental and the country. Benitez shed light on the necessary interventions to build a resilient and forward-looking educational system.
In his concluding remarks, Benitez challenged educators to explore new ways and innovate to improve education in the country and the province in the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and Post-Pandemic Recovery.
“If we can think in the larger scheme of those three things withing two larger contexts of the 4IR and the Pandemic Recovery – I think Negros Education is well on its way in becoming the model for the rest of the country.” said Benitez.
The first day of the Lasallian Education Symposium was also joined by Dr. Karol Mark Yee, Executive Director of EDCOM II; Justin Raagas, Executive Director of PBEd; Dr. Raul Alvarez Director IV of CHEDRO; and Allan Arellano of CEAP.