By Alexandria Dennise San Juan
The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) expressed its support for the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) Philippine Railway Institute (PRI) through providing incentives for continuing education for personnel who will run the railway sector, and through developing university-to-university linkages in railway research and development.
According to CHED Chairman Prospero De Vera III, DOTr has tapped the Commission to take part in the Department’s initiative of developing, through PRI, the manpower needed to run the country’s railway system.
The PRI, which was created by President Duterte under Executive Order No. 96, will serve as a research and training center under the DOTr in response to the “urgent need to develop human resource capacities of railway personnel, to ensure their availability and competence, and guarantee their compliance with generally accepted standards of practice, as well as the rules and regulations pertaining to the safety, operation, and maintenance of railways.”
The institute will also handle the planning, implementation, and regulation of development efforts for personnel in the railway sector.
In a recent meeting with DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade, representatives of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and officials of the PRI, De Vera said it was discussed how CHED can be part of the expanded scope of the DOTr PRI which now includes sustainable railway development, regulatory and management regimes, and trusted operator and sound environment.
Following the inter-agency discussions, it was agreed that CHED support will focus on several areas, such as developing a system of credits to convert certification training of PRI into academic units that can be used in graduate studies and continuing professional education.
CHED is also tasked to review content and outcomes contained in the PRI certificate program and embedding these into the existing engineering curricula and elective subjects for students to learn about railways engineering while they are at the university level.
The Commission is also expected to mobilize top engineering higher education institutions (HEIs), colleges, and universities to provide experts who can train students in the PRI certificate program and develop university-to-university linkages between Philippine and Japanese universities for joint research and development projects on railway development.
With this, De Vera gave the assurance that PRI will be able to harness the expertise of top HEIs, such as the University of the Philippines, Mindanao State University, Batangas State University, Mapua University, and the Technological Institute of the Philippines in the development of railway personnel capability and in research and development.
The recent discussion is the third of a series of coordination meetings between the DOTr and officials from the Japanese Embassy, the Philippine National Railways (PNR), and JICA, the funding partner of the DOTr and provider of technical assistance in the establishment of the PRI.