September 2016

Higher education and leadership for development in the Philippines

Michele Schweisfurth

This two-page policy brief is based on research in the Philippines that explored the role of higher education in the emergence of leaders who promote development.

Interviewees reported that while tertiary education had given them expertise and status, their desire to use their knowledge to promote reform often arose from their experience of social problems before, during or after higher education. All saw their education as significant, but they believed extra-curricular activities – such as leading student councils, running student newspapers, or being involved in social outreach work or political activism – had played a much larger role than formal teaching and learning in their development as reform leaders.

This brief draws three key messages from the findings.

  • Higher education policy and practice should look beyond technical skills and knowledge and consider important capacities – such as leadership skills – that extra-curricular activities provide.
  • The networks leaders formed during higher education, particularly with people from outside their usual circles of acquaintance, have made it possible for them to gain broad support for complex reforms.
  • More equitable access to higher education in the Philippines would be promoted by widening the participation of disadvantaged students in the most prestigious universities, and by ensuring quality beyond ‘elite’ institutions.

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Higher education and leadership for development in the Philippines

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