‘Pinoy’ Lacson eyes university system for working students

Concerned about the dwindling college enrolment nationwide, Liberal Party senatorial aspirant Alexander “Pinoy” Lacson today proposed the creation of a university system for working students, which is patterned after the Canadian model.

“In Canada, several schools provide college programs solely for working students, who work while they pursue their college education, “ said Lacson, author of the best-selling book “12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do to Help Our Country.” “

Universal access to tertiary education is still wanting in this country,” Lacson said, as he observed the tendency of a number of college students to drop out after a semester or two due to poverty or the financial inability to sustain a college education.

Lacson said initiatives have been taken to encourage deserving high school graduates to take up college education, but noted they have been largely insufficient, as indicated by the ever increasing number of college dropouts.

The solution lies in a university system exclusively for working students, who would earn their keep to enable them to pursue and complete their college education, Lacson said, adding that at least four schools may be set up as prototype models. A law could be enacted for their creation.

For Luzon, the Quezon City Polytechnic University and the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Makati could be converted into prototype colleges for working students. The Visayas and Mindanao could have one prototype school each, Lacson said.

“This is part of the concept of reengineering public education for national development. Reengineering public education includes the empowerment of the students themselves to get tertiary education,” Lacson said.

The university system geared towards working students is part of Lacson’s legislative agenda to provide Filipinos universal access to education.

Lacson also intends to strengthen alternative and basic education needs through the establishment of community learning centers, which would provide Filipinos of all ages nonformal education and skills and livelihood training and development programs.

Lacson’s proposed university system for working students is patterned largely from the Canadian experience, in which schools exclusively for working students have been established with strong linkages to business enterprises that absorb these students.

“The Canadian experience shows the partnerships between these schools and major businesses, allowing students to find suitable apprenticeship and employment, while they go to schools and work for their college degrees,” Lacson said.

“This is a model that works, as indicated by the fact that 90 percent of the students of these Canadian schools find employment after graduation, he added.”Lacson said, adding that the partnership of schools with certain business firms has been an effective way to enable students to adequately prepare themselves for careers because they immediately understand the requirements of these business interests.

Lacson said the proposed university system for working students would greatly encourage and empower the students to pursue their tertiary education without becoming a burden to their families, relatives and benefactors and, most of all, to the government, which has its hands full attending to basic education needs and other social services.

“Moreover, this university system would allow business firms to concentrate on their core businesses since they do not have to devote as much time to skills training and retooling of their personnel,” Lacson said.

“Also, on the job training starts early and by the time students complete their college education, they have sufficient skills that will ease their adjustment and adaptation to a work environment,” Lacson said.

“Whether or not they finish their college education, students will have skills to keep them employable unlike in the traditional set-up where students have to possess college degrees to assure employment and social mobility,” Lacson said.“This will also assure business of a steady pool of skilled personnel, assuring their commercial viability.”