Press Releases

House approves Salceda’s Public Schools of the Future in Technology (PSOFT) Act; Albay solon’s proposal will ensure adequate digital, ICT infra for state schools

November 22nd, 2021

The House of Representatives has approved on 2nd reading House Bill No. 10329, or the Public Schools of the Future in Technology (PSOFT) Act, whose first sponsor is Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd district), Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means.

In his sponsorship remarks on the subject, Salceda explained that the bill “aims to ensure that there is adequate investment in digital and technological infrastructure for our public schools.”

“There shall also be courses for higher-order skills from emerging industries such as artificial intelligence, big data, and other frontier technologies. Of course, these changes would require investment in teachers, which this bill also hopes to secure,” the House tax chair added.

The bill also improves the country’s basic education framework to allow for expanded online learning.

“Education and technology can no longer be separated. We need technology in education, and this has been made much clearer during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Salceda said.

The bill is part of Salceda’s Comprehensive Education Reform Agenda, which the Albay solon says has the backing of the Chairman of the Committee on Basic Education, Rep. Roman Romulo (Pasig, Lone District).

The bill also includes a provision which mandates that the Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Information and Communication Technology, and Philippine Space Agency shall immediately include in their respective programs the implementation of this Act, the funding of which shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act.

Reforms against skills gap needed

Salceda said that education reforms are critical especially as the country is facing an expanding skills gap.

“The global economy has become skills-based and highly interconnected. Most of global wealth is now information-based. In a presentation I delivered to the Committee on Higher and Technical Education, I argued that knowledge is now the wealth of nations. Our citizens will now have to be able to go toe-to-toe with citizens from other countries,” Salceda said.

“Unfortunately, measures of the global competitiveness of our learners show disappointing results. Released on December 3, the results of the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) revealed that the Philippines scored 353 in Mathematics, 357 in Science, and 340 in Reading, all below the average of participating OECD countries,” Salceda added.

“This is the reason we need to invest in education reform and infrastructure,” Salceda said.

Salceda also said that Philippine industries complain about a lack of skilled workers.

“BPOs have vacant seats because they could not hire enough Filipinos who can deliver more than a good English accent and actually solve user problems. Our skills gap is also reflected in the makeup of our labor force. Craft and related trades workers, while growing, are only at 6.4 % of the workforce. We are a country with more “managers” (at 9.3%) than skilled workers. More than a quarter of our labor force is in “elementary occupations,” or work that requires a lower level of skills. We are a country of diplomas, but not necessarily of skills.”

“Imagine, we have more managers than skilled workers in this country. This is untenable in a skills-based global economy. We need to change this with meaningful education reforms to emphasize skills. Diplomas are like bouncing checks if they are not backed by real skills in our graduates,” Salceda concluded.

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