Corporatised education in the Philippines: Pearson, Ayala Corporation and the emergence of Affordable Private Education Centers (APEC)

published 30 November 2015 updated 4 January 2022
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This paper examines how, why, and with what consequences, corporate-led privatisations in Philippine education are taking shape, through an analysis of Affordable Private Education Centers (APEC).

APEC is a for-profit chain of low-fee private schools (LFPS) established through a joint venture between two major multinational corporations, Pearson Plc and the Ayala Group. With the implementation of the new “K-12” system the Department of Education (DepED) plans to grow public-private partnerships and the education services industry in the Philippines so that private enterprise can expand private high school provision and help absorb excess demand. APEC, and its shareholders, plan to capitalise on this situation through its corporately owned and managed chain of for-profit high schools that aim to serve “economically disadvantaged” Filipino youth who are charged nominally “low-fees.”

The edu-business model implemented by APEC involves a number of cost-cutting techniques designed to minimise production costs, while increasing rates of profitability, which have had undesirable effects on teaching and learning. APEC also aims to (re)produce the human labour required by Ayala and other multinational companies by aligning its educational services with the labour needs of industry. By “reverse-engineering” its curriculum, APEC intends to produce graduates of a particular disposition with specific skills, values, and knowledge that can be employed in the global labour market. In particular, APEC intends to address the skill shortage in business process outsourcing (BPO) and call center industries in the Philippines.

This report aims to contribute to global debates regarding low-fee private schools as well as corporate involvement and influence in efforts to expand access to education.