THE Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) and the Cebu Technological University (CTU) are crafting this year a master’s program called Master in Economic Zone Administration or MEZA to be offered at the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Institute.
This, after PEZA and CTU inked a memorandum of agreement on Feb. 26, 2020 creating the SEZ Institute, a facility that is seen to enhance the skills of workers and match them with the jobs offered by industries in economic zones.
Dr. Ronald M. Galindo, vice-chairperson of the SEZ Institute Council and CTU director for innovation, resource generation, and industry linkages, said that MEZA will not only boost the profile and qualifications of PEZA officers who administer the economic zones, but it will also help the graduates in Central Visayas acquire credentials.
“I can see the future after crafting the MEZA curriculum because for now, we don’t have a master’s program that is directed to economic zone administration,” he said.
The coronavirus 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic has delayed plans for the SEZ Institute, according to PEZA.
Both PEZA and CTU are preparing to open the SEZ Institute this year. It will cater to learners in Cebu and Region 7. It will be the second SEZ Institute in the country, after the one established in the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) in Ilocos Norte.
Included in these preparations are refining functions and responsibilities of PEZA and CTU, creating guidelines, and deciding on modes of instruction.
Both partners are now involved in curriculum development planning for the SEZ Institute.
On January 21, 2021, PEZA proposed a curriculum development planning workshop to craft master’s programs in economic zone administration, export standard livelihood, and industrial technology education. The agency also raised possible plans on creating courses on educating the educators and training the trainers.
“Almost everything we need to protract a globally competitive investment strategy is already present. It is just a matter of institutionalizing a communication system among the industry, the government, and the academe,” said Neilbert Gajudo, chairperson of the SEZ Institute Council.
The curriculum planning for MEZA will be done through a faculty consortium arrangement among the regional campuses of the SEZ Institute.
It will be a three-part online session with the cooperation of Baguio City Economic Zone, Cavite Economic Zone (CEZ), and Mactan Economic Zone (MEZ) to ensure that the future curriculum is aligned with the needs of the locators in economic zones. PEZA’s partner state universities and colleges (SUCs), namely CTU, MMSU, Central Philippines State University, and Isabela State University will also join.
The first session of the workshop was conducted through a video conference on March 10 to 11, 2021, hosted by the MMSU facilitator team.
The proposed schedule for the second session is on April 15 to 20, 2021 hosted by the CEZ, and the third session on May 6 to 11, 2021 hosted by the MEZ.
Galindo said that after the planning, the parties involved will also need to comply with the requirements for the Certificate of Program Compliance issued by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), including the approval of the proposed curriculum, the faculty, and the infrastructures and the facilities to be used for the master’s program.
Galindo also said that the CTU will ensure that the degrees offered through the SEZ Institute are geared toward innovation and responsive to industry needs in terms of research, instruction, production, and extension services. SEZ Institute will also include experiential learning and hands-on training, he said.
“If graduates only have the knowledge and the attitude but not the skills, it will be difficult for them to be employed for a particular position in the industry, so there is a mismatch. The SEZ Institute will transform students into competent, professional, and mature industry-employable workers,” said Galindo.
According to John Arffy Ceniza, MEZ information officer, even before the SEZ Institute was established, PEZA has been working to address the job-skill matching between the talent pool the industries need, and the kind of skilled graduates the academe is producing.
“MEZ, for instance, supported and allowed the movement of company assets to the different training centers,” he said. (Rachel Ann Valle Romo, St. Theresa’s College-Cebu Corporate Communication student)