HomeAsia-Pacific Social Science Reviewvol. 12 no. 1 (2012)

Democracy, Decentralization and Higher Education: The Philippine Case

Roger Chao Jr.



Philippine democratization and its decentralization initiatives are studied to understand how it has empowered the local government, and if decentralization played a role in the demise of Philippine higher education, one of the most admired Southeast Asian higher education systems in the 1960s and 1970s. A documentary review of key decentralization policy documents, namely, the 1973 and 1987 Philippine Constitution and the 1991 Local Government Code, together with a review of key Philippine higher education reforms, is conducted. The study explains that there is a transfer of fiscal, administrative, and political power to local governments. Philippine decentralization initiatives, however, have design flaws that facilitate recentralization, uneven power distribution, and together with non-compliance of policies, political dynamics resulted in the demise of the state’s higher education sector. This influence is seen directly in increased diploma mills brought about by the proliferation of private for-profit higher education institutions and the establishment of local universities and colleges by the local government units. Indirectly, its influence is seen in the tri-focalization of education, privatization, rationalization, and the granting of deregulation and autonomy to accredited higher education institutions.