With an administration banking on the youth, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has partnered with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the Department of National Defense (DND) to roll out an improved and strengthened National Service Training Program (NSTP).
The partnership aims to produce students with civic consciousness, defense preparedness and will act as first responders during national emergencies.
CHED chairman J. Prospero de Vera III, TESDA Secretary Isidro S. Lapeña and DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana jointly signed an agreement at the DND office to create an NSTP-Technical Working Group (TWG).
The NSTP-TWG will review the existing implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Republic Act 9163 or the “National Service Training Program Act of 2001”.
As in the previous 17 years, the NSTP program was not closely monitored and was not uniformly implemented across higher education institutions (HEIs).
In a CHED statement on Friday, it said it resulted in the high turn-over of NSTP coordinators, noting the concerns about the “safety and security of the students during the community immersion, and weak sanctions for HEIs that violated the law and its IRR”.
“In many areas, NSTP students did not have insurance coverage during their out of school activities. and many HEIs did not offer the full range of NSTP options. particularly Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC),” it added.
“There is a need for CHED, DND, and TESDA to work together to review what has happened in the past years and craft new guidelines that can be issued to all HEIs in order to realize the objective of the NSTP law to produce an active National Service Reserve Corps that will serve the nation,” de Vera said in the statement on Friday.
“Recent developments. such as the implementation of the Republic Act 10931 or the ‘Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act’ and its effect on the NSTP fund. the shift in the academic calendar, impact of the K to 12 Basic Education Program. and current national security concerns. makes the review and revision of the IRR an urgent imperative,” he added.
CHED will issue a Memorandum Order (CMO) on the NSTP guidelines and standards for the common and enhanced modules for non-military programs under the NSTP.
“The Commission is serious in making the NSTP supportive to the initiatives of the government and the needs of our country. The draft CMO is now being subjected to zonal consultation,” de Vera said.
CHED, DND, and TESDA will work together to review the ROTC Program of Instruction (POI), recasting of the non-military NSTP components –Civil Welfare Training Service and Literacy Training Service– to be disaster response-oriented to operationalize the National Service Reserve Corps as a complement to the AFP Reserves.