Press Release
November 12, 2015

Development and Sustainability of Private Technical and Vocational Schools in the K to 12 Environment
Keynote speech by
during the 4th TVET National Congress, SMX Convention Center, SM Aura, 12 November 2015

According to UNESCO, Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) must aim to equip each individual with "knowledge, skills, attitudes and values necessary to shape a sustainable future."

It is imperative that important issues on sustainable development be incorporated into the curriculum of technical and vocational schools if it is to flourish in the K to 12 environment. It is not enough to just give a Certificate of Competency or a National Certificate Level after finishing a technical-vocational (tech-voc) livelihood track in Grade 12. The aim is not just the employability of Grade 12 graduates in fields like agriculture, electronics, and trade, but their lifelong advantage.

As of today, to what extent are the following global issues embedded in tech-voc training: biodiversity, climate change, disaster risk reduction, poverty alleviation, sustainable consumption? If K to 12 has begun lessons on sustainable development, then technical and vocational education must usher in the "21st century green economy," with earth-friendly "green" jobs.

The pillars of the transformative agenda must be at the fulcrum of your development and sustainability framework in the K to 12 environment.

Capacity Pillar. First, observe your areas of strength in the highest capacity level of sustainability. In other words, know your best practices. What mechanisms and processes have you used with success over a period of time, regularly reviewed and enhanced? Second, look into your areas of adequacy regarding sustainability in K to 12. What mechanisms and processes are fully functional? Third, think of your minor and major areas for improvement: which ones are not consistently implemented? What principles of sustainability are non-existent and are reactive?

Competency Pillar. Do the same analysis for your areas of strength, this time identifying where your key leaders and students are considered to be experts or have advanced knowledge, training, or experience. In order to excel in sustainability, explore cutting-edge policies, programs, and practices that will benefit technical-vocational education in relation to K to12. The following are six ideas using the acronym S.E.C.U.R.E.

S means strengths-based skills sharpening. The world's best managers are guided by the assumptions that: (1) each person's talents are enduring and unique; (2) each person's greatest room for growth is in the areas of his/her greatest strength.

Our vision: Skills sharpening in technical-vocational schools will be strengths-based. Grade 12 graduates of technical-vocational tracks will be fulfilled as they discover, develop, and deliver great results using their strengths.

E means exponential expansion or having community-based sustainable development in GREEN environments of the future. Tech-voc schools can get involved in multi-sectoral community-based GREEN projects, like sustainable manufacturing of educational manipulatives (or physical tools of teaching) to supply K to 12 schools, first in the Philippines, then abroad.

Our vision: Tech-voc training centers will ensure that every output of students enrolled in each tech-voc centers won't be wasted, unlike nowadays where course requirements are usually discarded/thrown after they've been graded, but will be powerfully used as prototypes of educational manipulatives for the various subjects in K+12, not just in kinder.

C means combo-turbo campaign, which combines skills training with social responsibility, in order to achieve an unprecedented turbo multiplier effect. For example, the Harvard School of Public Health's Alcohol prevention Project worked closely with television network leaders and scriptwriters to incorporate messages in prime-time television programs to warn against drunk driving, and to promote the designation of one driver among a group of friends.

U means Unique Selling Point (USP). What unique selling point of tech-voc schools can be harnessed in order to develop and be sustained in the context of K to 12? You alone can pioneer technology-based futuristic education. For example, students of automotive technician courses can work on electrical or hybrid cars, while students of construction/building trades can use solar-powered generators to work machinery and assist in building projects for Habitat for Humanity or Gawad Kalinga. In the Philippines, tech-voc students can partner with science schools on these experiments.

R means research-based risk-taking. I reiterate "research-based" because risk-taking alone is not only costly and wasteful of Filipino taxes, but it is also unwise to proceed with an untested idea.

Professional business clubs, like the Mindanao Business Club, can conduct research-based product or skills innovation contests that encourage creative and sustainable ideas from tech-voc students. A possible requirement of the contest is for tech-voc schools or students to have a partner school, and a community-based NGO partner in the target K to 12 locale. A similar undertaking is already being done by the Universities and Councils Network on Innovation for Inclusive Development in Southeast Asia in the Philippines and Asia, but I am not aware of an organization like it which is solely focused on tech-voc schools or student involvement. Hopefully, Philippine business associations will take interest, as a form of social entrepreneurship.

E means ESD (Education for Sustainable Development) Policy-making and Positive Organizational Development. Policy development is an important component of the sustainability of tech-voc schools in the K to 12 environment. But laws need legs or a step-by-step progress of implementing rules and regulations (IRR).

Eventually, tech-voc schools' goal should be to create a new curriculum for each of the tech-voc courses linked to sustainability. For example, in the course Nail Technology, one goal may be to: "demonstrate awareness of sustainability as it pertains to nail technicians and the industry" and several related learning outcomes, such as to "describe the impact of human sustainability on the health and well-being of Nail Technicians and clients". The learning outcomes should not only environmental, but include social sustainability and sustainable business practices as well.


In conclusion, I envision positive organizational development processes to energize tech-voc leaders and students together in creating policies, programs, and practices that support education for sustainable development in the K to 12 environment.

Empowerment of all involved stakeholders is the key to success. Great possibilities can be realized if your varied gifts are synergized with the intellectual treasures of like-minded tech-voc advocates.?

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