May 31, 2009 in editorials
With the opening of classes on June 1, the school-year begins bringing with it all that is good and bad about formal education in our country.
As in most developing countries, Filipino families consider education – the earning of a college diploma in particular – as the passport from poverty to prosperity. And parents will do everything in their power to see their kids through college, if only to ensure a better future for their family.
Taking advantage of the Filipinos’ penchant for education, private school owners and administrators operate their schools as business enterprises with an eye not so much on excellence but on the ledger’s bottomline.
Thus, it has been the perennial complaint of parents and students that tuition fees and miscellaneous expenses are being raised with little evidence that profits are being plowed back into better facilities and teachers’ benefits. No wonder private universities and colleges are in the list of top corporations in the country as they become virtual diploma mills.
Meanwhile, teachers who constitute the backbone of the educational system continue to be overworked and underpaid. This undermines their ability to deliver on the quality of instruction that students and parents expect from them.
This is especially true among those in the public school system where teachers are made to handle huge classes aside from the burden of extra-curricular activities imposed upon them like their participation in so-called festivals.
As a result, the quality of Philippine education has continued to decline over the decades as the government neglects its primordial duty to provide accessible education to its citizens, while those in the private sector continues to raise the cost of education beyond the reach of most Filipino families.
And even if students and their parents manage to hurdle all the obstacles posed before them in acquiring education and eventually obtain that much-prized college diploma, there remains that last goal of landing a well-paying job which is a rarity these days.
Not only is there a huge mismatch between what our schools are producing and what our trade and industry demands, there is the more basic problem of the lack of job opportunities due to the bakcward state of the Philippine economy.
This sad reality is usually factored in when students decide what course to take in college, thus the popularity of courses that have a demand abroad like nursing. So, we end up with a brain drain – exporting precious human resources that are so badly needed in a developing economy, like ours.
There is really something wrong, terribly wrong, in the way we educate and train our students and eventually turn them into export commodity. But the blame does not lie with struggling parents and families wanting to have a better life which our society cannot provide. The responsibility lies squarely with the planners and managers of the country’s education and economy, and ultimately, with the government whose job it is to ensure that our graduates find meaningful and rewarding employment right here in our country. # nordis.net