Proponents of the human capital theory, Harbison and Myer, stated that “human beings are the active agents who carry forward national development.” So the keywords here are “human beings”, “human resource”, or “human capital”. Thinking about it now, our country survived financial crises during the ‘80s and ‘90s because of the proliferation of the OCWs (overseas contract workers), whose acronyms changed to OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) to give tribute to our kababayans working abroad. Our heroes. At the turn of the millenium until today, aside from the income-generating OFWs, we turned to another group of human capital: call center agents. So the dollars coming in from the OFWs plus the BPOs kept the country afloat. And our country is known for its human capital. Is there a correlation between education and development? I would say that our educational system always reacts to the demands of human capital.
Who are those OFWs? We have the professionals (nurses, engineers, teachers, electricians, seamen, etc.) who graduated college and passed the licensure examinations. We also have the skilled workers (construction workers, factory workers, nursing aides, domestic helpers, etc.) who may have or have not finished college but were trained through experience or probably formal training in a technical-vocational school to qualify in those fields. So in the process, schools try to keep up with the trend by producing graduates that are of high demand.
During the late ‘80s to early ‘90s, there was a boom of nursing schools. Then during the mid-’90s the wind changed. Demand for nurses dropped and demand for physical therapists went up. So those colleges with nursing added physical therapy in their course offerings. Then we have TESDA, and produced skilled workers that are on demand: welders, technicians, nursing aides, baristas, call center agents, etc. Soon, we will have the K to 12 program that some say it just incorporated TESDA into the curriculum so that those who reached Grade 12 may be qualified to work if they could not proceed to college.
And yet not all Filipinos can feel the effects of the dollar remittances of these OFWs and call center agents because of the big disparity between the rich and the poor and we’re still a Third World agricultural country. And what is even weird, we as an agricultural country have less graduates of agriculture and skilled farmers as years go by.
So if there is a correlation between education and development, it depends on where you’re looking at the issue. I’m seeing education as something that provides palliative cure to keep up with the demands of human capital, and the income coming from our human capital couldn’t be felt because of the gap between the rich and the poor.