The Student
The Student
ASEF Capacity Building Training: An interview with Dr Edizon Fermin

Manvir Dobb talks to Dr Edizon Fermin, the Vice President of Academic Affairs at the National Teacher’s College in the Philippines, on the last day of the ASEF Capacity Building Training programme to reflect on the skills that have been learnt in this course.

What do you think are the key issues for higher education in the Philippines?

A lot.

But some of the key issues are firstly the decentralisation of the education system. The Philippines is split into 17 administrative regions and while decentralisation allows for various regions to specialise and adapt to their unique position, it also means that many areas are less likely to respond to the established benchmark and standards. We need to find a balance between national priority goals and regional development goals.

Secondly, we need to be mindful of how to shape things when the demographic of technological advancements is constantly changing.

Thirdly, the ability to make decisions based on evidence. We need to revamp the way in which we gather, analyse, and interpret data.

With that in mind, do you think that this conference has been useful in finding a solution to these issues of higher education in the Philippines?

Tremendously. The workshops here have been routed on the concept of diversity, which has facilitated a variety of opinions. Finding the differences and common grounds between out countries higher education institutions has allowed us all to mutually learn from each other.

Could you give examples of this mutual learning?

Certainly.

In European universities, student welfare is given high priority, which I think is something Asian countries could really learn from. This was demonstrated in our conference on Day 3 when where we were given presentations on the varying ways of how to make education accessible to student with disabilities. Making universities more accessible can only positively impact the university in the long term.

Likewise in Asian universities, there is a huge focus in the cultural nuances of why people should engage in education, which more and more seems to be something European students are losing sight of.
It’s a very exciting time for global higher education discussion; especially for the Philippines. For a long time we have been influenced by the US model of education, but now influence is coming from our side too which will bring about some truly positive changes.

Would you participate in another conference like this again, and likewise encourage others to do so?

Oh yes! Answering these question has made myself realise that these conferences are absolutely necessary in improving world higher education at both a rapid and sustainable pace. I can’t wait to take my ideas gained from this conference home and see how they manifest themselves in practice.

Image: Ellen Blair