UP on Quality Education

UP Champions Vocational and Continuing Education

Vocational training forms the backbone of any inclusive workforce. While an essential aspect of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, vocational /continuing education opportunities help create a vibrant economy by allowing citizens to learn skills that are in high demand. With Industry 5.0 ushering in unprecedented technological changes, Filipino workers of the 21st century are expected to be technically adaptable and update their knowledge through the disciplined pursuit of lifelong learning.

Though most Filipinos may think of vocational training as the purview of government offices like the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), the University of the Philippines (UP) has also stepped up its practical offerings’ work-ready courses to strengthen competencies in various industries. This initiative is no surprise, as training Filipinos to be leaders through world-class education and public service is part of UP’s mandate as the national university under Republic Act No. 9500.

The Continuing Education Program (CEP) courses offered by the UP Open University (UPOU) are excellent examples of this practice. The CEPs are a set of 12- to 16-week distance courses offered by the University offering competencies in areas from special education to e-commerce. Interested participants can signup at UPOU’s CEP site, after which they receive relevant course information one month before their schedule of choice.

The home page of the UP Open University Continuing Education Program.

Similarly, UP Manila, as part of its leadership role in the health sciences and allied professions, launched a four-month Online Health Policy and Systems Research (HPSR) course in 2020. The course is conducted to strengthen and support the implementation of the country’s Universal Health Care (UHC) Act, which was signed into law in 2019. The 2021 edition of the course saw 74 graduates from healthcare sites across the country equipped with new skills in evidence-based research to lead the successful rollout of UHC in all corners of the nation.

Finally, UP Los Baños, through the Institute of Cooperatives and Bio-enterprise Development (ICOPED), College of Management and Economics, offers 1- to 4-day training programs for cooperative officers and trainers. These courses teach members the fundamentals of running a successful cooperative, from credit management to good governance. The College also offers group-based specialized training on topics like enterprise development for the youth and making business continuity plans on their website.

Amidst the Pandemic, UP’s Educational Outreach Efforts Prosper

While the University of the Philippines (UP) is a world-class educational institution, its mission goes beyond this. As a public service university, it is also mandated to use its knowledge and expertise to serve the Filipino people. The pandemic required challenges on both fronts. With mobility becoming a nationwide problem due to lockdowns, classrooms and industries alike were paralyzed.

This challenge, however, only stoked the fire of the University’s spirit of voluntarism. Many units within UP saw the crisis as an opportunity to deliver their expertise right to people’s doorsteps. One of the biggest contributors during the height of the pandemic was the UP Ugnayan ng Pahinungod, the University’s official volunteer program.

UP Cebu Pahinungod volunteers conduct tutorial sessions with students in a partner school. Photo from UP Cebu Pahinungod.

For instance, the UP Los Baños (UPLB) Pahinungod launched the BUYanihan program, which helped far-flung communities market their agricultural produce amidst restrictions to tourism and traffic. They did this by marketing these products online, increasing the visibility of locally made food products and handicrafts. The Pahinungod also shifted their usual outreach tutorials in far-flung barangays to a modular, online approach that ensured that as many children as possible could keep their math, science, and language skills sharp while studying at home.

Not to be outdone, the UP Cebu (UPC) Pahinungod conducted its outreach for almost 400 teachers in Quirino province and Surigao del Norte when they hosted their series on Teacher Professional Development on Action Research last year. Not everybody had a stable internet connection, so the workshop was broadcast via a projector in multiple schools. The workshop focused on strengthening teachers’ capacity to do action research, which UP Cebu Chancellor Liza Corro described as “very important in the field of Education.”

Other CUs also held their own, sometimes student-led, outreach efforts. In UP Manila, the College of Dentistry partnered with the Community Health and Development Program of the College and the Mendez Central School, Cavite, to create educational materials on oral health. They were entitled ‘Maliwanag na Ngiti para sa Kinabukasan ng Mendez CENTRALIAN,” the works detailed how children can best protect their oral health despite the shift to virtual learning.

UP Policies Promoting Lifelong Learning

While the COVID-19 pandemic upended education globally, The University of the Philippines also catalyzed the overdue transformation of higher education. Even before the pandemic, UP had already planned to shift to a lifelong learning model featuring a blended, independent approach to education. When the lockdowns began, however, plans on the drawing board had to be implemented immediately.

The policy shift toward more independent, student-centered learning began even earlier with the passage of Republic Act 10650 or the Distance Learning Act in 2014. The law seeks to further democratize access to higher education by applying open learning. It even explicitly designated the UP Open University (UPOU) as an adviser of both the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) on distance learning matters.

With the pandemic coming, the University was forced to expedite these plans. The initial rallying cry came with the release of OVPAA Memorandum No. 2020-68. The memorandum laid out the goals to successfully cope with the pandemic. The plan included the fully remote implementation of AY 2020-21, utilizing learning management systems like UVLE and VLE, shaping programs for remote delivery, and extensive stakeholder meetings.

A group photo of the some of the beneficiaries of the Kaagapay sa Pag-aaral ng mga Iskolar ng Bayan remote learning support program. Photo from the UP Padayon Public Service Office.


The memorandum was soon followed by the Kaagapay sa Pag-aaral ng mga Iskolar ng Bayan or #KaagapayUP project. #KaagapayUP was an unprecedented fundraising drive to support the more than 5,000 students of UP who could not afford distance learning. Through the project and UP’s private sector partners, the university raised the amount needed to procure laptop computers and internet connections for students in need. This project helped UP students to thrive and gave them confidence in the University’s unwavering support in their time of need.

The push for lifelong learning access doesn’t end or begin with COVID-19. Each constituent university has policies that promote inclusiveness. UP Baguio’s Program for Indigenous Cultures (PIC) supports indigenous culture participation through curriculum integration, educational spaces, and capacity building.

UP Promotes Lifelong Learning for All

Education has been essential to global prosperity and sustainability since the Millennium Summit in 2001. It is no surprise, then, that Education features just as prominently in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the present day, where addressing poverty and other ills means addressing inequities in Education.

Included explicitly in the definition of SDG 4 (lifelong learning) is the call to promote lifelong learning. Lifelong learning is pursuing additional education and skills beyond one’s formal or compulsory education. Though a vital component of a competitive workforce, the delivery of lifelong learning in the Philippines hit serious roadblocks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the country’s national university promoting advanced studies and public service, the University of the Philippines takes the lifelong learning challenge seriously. Heading these undertakings is the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU), the nation’s open and distance education pioneer. The UPOU offers learning materials accessible to Filipinos online who wish to pursue personal and professional development.

Since 2010, the UPOU has offered educational content under an open license that includes free access and redistribution. These materials are housed in the UPOU Commons under the UPOU Networks, a repository of UPOU-produced multimedia resources. The UPOU Networks has recently become a hub for live webinars and asynchronous learning through this free-to-access collection.

The home page of the Massive Open Distance eLearning (MODeL) website – the official MOOC platform of the University of the Philippines – Open University.


Furthermore, UPOU has also been offering Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) through its Massive Open Distance e-Learning (MODeL) platform. It began in 2013 with UPOU’s award-winning Introduction to Mobile Application Development course and has since expanded to cover other topics. These courses use only open educational resources and are available to anyone with an internet connection.

Other UP constituent universities (CUs) have recently begun offering materials promoting online lifelong learning. UP’s Baguio’s official YouTube channel has been actively live-streaming lectures on health and indigenous studies. The Museum Management Training (MMT) series is implemented by the Museo Kordilyera and UP Baguio and trains interested individuals in the fine details of running a successful museum, with topics like cultural education and museum case studies.


Webinars and Online Events Boost UP’s Public Service Initiatives

The COVID-19 pandemic created a global education crisis that we still face today. With the rush to find alternate ways of reaching students, many education institutions were crippled by the technical and logistical requirements of distance or blended learning. The United Nations estimates that 24 million learners may never return to school as a direct or indirect effect of the pandemic.

As a public service university mandated by Republic Act 9500 to offer its expertise in solving national problems, the pandemic has hit the University of the Philippines (UP) doubly hard. Not only has UP been forced to adapt to the educational ‘new normal’ ushered in by COVID-19 but its delivery of timely and effective public service was also hampered by mobility challenges brought about by the pandemic.

Despite this, the University’s constituent universities (CUs) have been at the forefront of using online solutions to deliver world-class public service. Through webinars and live events, these units ensure that UP’s knowledge is used to uplift the nation and its citizens.

The Gold Quill Awards 2022-winning series Stop COVID Deaths: Clinical Management Updates Webinar Series is a prime example of this. It is, to this point, a 120-episode joint project of the UP System, TVUP, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), UP Manila National Institutes of Health (UPM-NIH), National Telehealth Center (UPM-NTC), and the UP Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH).

The series provides free and accurate information about health and COVID-19-related problems through social media and video streaming platforms. It shares experts’ on-the-ground experiences with public and private healthcare practitioners, planners, managers; scientists; frontline workers; and the public. The first episode, “Clinical Management of COVID Pneumonia,” was shown on April 24, 2020, and has been viewed by viewers from 122 hospitals in 28 countries.


Similarly, UP Cebu’s Teaching and Learning Resource Center (TLRC) is also using webinars to help the University’s teachers promote excellence in the profession. The TLRC’s Youtube-hosted Teaching Enhancement series offers free and easily accessible webinars that educators can view to improve as mentors and as knowledge seekers. Previous topics in this series include integrating social media into teaching and research ethics.

As the country’s pioneer in distance education, the UP Open University (UPOU) has also worked tirelessly to share information through online learning events. The UPOU site and UPOU YouTube channel have free-to-access webinars promoting awareness on key issues facing the nation, such as the lauded Open Talk series. Each episode of Open Talk features a group of experts speaking on timely topics from entrepreneurship to remote learning and proposes practical solutions through informed, open discussion.

More on UP and the SDGs

UP and the Sustainable Development Goals
Message from the President
About UP
Green UP: A UP System Action Plan for Environmental Sustainability
UP at a Glance
UP on Good Health and Well-Being

UP on Gender Equality
UP on Sustainable Cities and Communities
UP on Climate Action
UP on Partnerships to Achieve the Goals