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Value education first

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For the last six years, the dropout rate among pupils aged 12-15 has been steadier than the Kathniel fandom. Forty percent of elementary graduates abandon their chances of a high school diploma to either watch daytime animé Yakitate Japan desperately dubbed in Tagalog, or to give Nanay the much-needed hand at descaling and deboning kilo after kilo of bangus at the wet market. Loss of motivation and poverty are some of the factors that lead and, at times, force little Juan to drop out. Department of Education officials further attribute the accruing of dropouts to health conditions, school adjustment, and constant relocation of residence necessitating frequent school transfers.

Based on the validated results of doctoral theses and case studies of the academe, some of the reasons for dropping out of school were conclusively identified. Using my good ear to listen to some of my fellow students’ plight as well as my good eye to see the pangs of a tingi-tingi (retail) society, I discovered another reason. For most Filipinos, the diploma may be as valuable as Baguio gold, but the process of acquiring it—the process of education—remains scorned. We fell in love with the idea of education but  there’s the reality of having to capitalize on it. If all universities were “Recto University,” then P300 will be all you need to succeed.

And that is why when Juan is fed up with chasing tuition, he’ll choose to have little Juan drop out and let the kid have a go at minimum-wage labor, and, in certain instances, illegitimately-less-than-minimum-wage labor. At least, little Juan will be earning for the table; he will be useful.

Economics coined the term “hyperbolic discounting” to encapsulate the scenario. Given two similar rewards, humans show a preference for one that arrives sooner rather than later. Would you prefer P100 today or P300 tomorrow? So, for a country that operates on isang kayod, isang tuka, subsistence level, most will probably choose the P100 hora mismo, right now. Most will probably choose to let their children drop out of school so the kids can start working to pay the (alternatively-jumpered) electric bills.

What little Juan will gain from staying in school and eventually completing a degree is the P300 for tomorrow. I argue then that education has been, since the first Filipino dropout, progressively surrendering to hyperbolic discounting. What can be better proof than our attitude toward its quality and reform? In the Philippines, we have a demeaning allotment of P6,650 per student per year. Thailand has P41,110. Singapore has P86,751. Japan is quite generous to its students with P240,975.

Also, it took us a world war and Charice Pempengco’s coming out to modify the obsolete curriculum. We were third to the last in the world to change the 10-year education system to K to 12. We’re the third most thick-skulled, next to Angola and Djbouti.

We value urgency. We value more what can give us the most immediate gratification. We are naturally afraid of taking risks and hesitant to invest big. This shows in the way we value education.

Education, whether we grow out of 1+1 Gwiyomi or not, will forever be an investment. Reimbursing education demands time and patience. It is a rule of nature that to earn massive profit, you must be prepared to make a massive investment. And this investment will only push through if we see the venture’s feasibility, if we truly see the value of education—so true that we wouldn’t mind the digits and the weeks of eating nothing but a gourmet combo of rice and rock salt.

This is also true for the eminent Juans wearing crisp barong. No amount of new subjects to be added to the curriculum or a thick compilation of memoranda from the DepEd or the Commission on Higher Education will be enough to institute education reform. Even immensely increasing the budget appropriation will be half-hearted. Valuing education precedes all of these.

Maria Reylan M. Garcia, 22, is a juris doctor student at the University of St. La Salle (Bacolod City). She is also a registered nurse.


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  • http://jaoromero.com/ Jao Romero

    even K to 12 is outdated and IMO, inadequate in meeting the challenges of the 21st century. i see students being filled with so much fluff it disturbs me greatly. we should be aiming to provide practical education. you know, things that our children can actually use when they finish school. mastering (what to me are) core subjects: reading, math, science, and history. and then intense training on vocational skills.

    i’d like to see a school than can produce graduates that can be self-sufficient. grow their own food, build their own house, raise their own livestock yet also be able to process their own tax returns, balance their bank accounts, and know the law like the back of their hand.

    schools should be preparing us for the life of hard knocks. instead, schools today are preparing us for jobs as laborers.

    • mewo_meow

      it’s high time that our curriculum will be tailored to the skills of the student so that he can practically use them come day one of his chosen profession.

    • angie1875

      So true. There is a disconnect between academic world and real world. We produced so many nurses w/ few hospitals to work in and now end up as call center agents. We have few geologists, meteorolists, marine biologists for our typhoon ridden water surrounded country. We should offer scholarships for these courses and employ our graduates to help in this climate change battle and conservation of resources program.

    • Islaslolo

      I agree with you but this should be just part of the basic K to 12. We should also develop their cognitive skills, problem solving skills, interpersonal skills, team-working skills, physical health and ethical values. That is, the intellectual and emotional skills and health of our children and grandchildren. And most importantly, the love of continuous education.

      • Eustaquio Joven

        Paano mangyayari ang sinasabi mo kung roll call lang ng 50+ pupils ubos na ang oras? Uneasy ang mga pupils sa siksikang classroom, at halos hindi marining ang titser dahil sa ugong ng nag-uuntugang mga bituka ng mga batang gutom.. Idagdag pa rito ang wala sa lugar na class schedule dahil kailangang mag-tatalong shift. And we expect our pupils to be educated by a K-12 program, or whatever?

  • labcu

    Investing in education start from self, it starts from the family.For me there is no enough reason for someone to put blame on others, on the government, on circumstances like poverty, on the school system/curriculum etc. why he or she is one among the uneducated and unemployed or poor. Valuing education plus your investment equals a better life ahead. Its basics – magtrabaho, magsumikap at magpursigi yon lang!

  • Frank de Leon

    There is no question that a well planned, adequately financed and effectively managed educational system is the eventual backbone of any country that will allow it to be competitive and prosperous. This is a problem even in well-to-do countries like the U.S. A country’s political leaders have to recognize this and the people should have the national will to devote its resouces to education. There is no other choice.

    • labcu

      The US has an excellent basic education. The foundation is strong and far better than the country because it has complete physical infrastructures equipped with modern day technology, strong support systems, arts and sports facilities, transportation, provision of free meals, medical service, established/institutionalized disaster/emergency response plan, effective curriculum system and fully equipped teachers and teacher assistants with continuing professional development. It can be said that the knowledge of an elementary pupil is that of a HS student in the Phil. if not better.

      • Frank de Leon

        Of course the US public school system compared to the Philippines is bettter for all the reasons you have cited but very inadequate to compete in the global economy of the future. You can get on line the drop-out rate and reading levels of students. You may be surprised. At any rate the issue is the Philippine educational problem that has to be addressed.

      • labcu

        Go back to your first sentence and relate it to the next thus my comment. The drop out rate has reason of its own and is not connected to the main point/issue. Competition in local and global market after college is a matter of “self-marketing” or “selling” one’s self, character and capabilities.

        I have hands-on experience on both educational system thus the vision of the Philippines K-12 can’t be attained unless all the basics are put into place.

      • brooklynstoops

        Having the US education system as your benchmark is setting the bar too low as it’s not even in the top 20.

      • Frank de Leon

        You are correct.

      • Frank de Leon

        How can one market himself when he does not have the right educational preparation? In the U.S.there is a great need to upgrade the curriculum in science and math.

      • brooklynstoops

        yup. even the top schools in the ritziest suburban districts do poorly in math and science.

        i am lucky enough to teach in chinatown where the students have the work ethic. they are from china, majority of whom are fresh off the boat, and it has been ingrained in them that education is the only way out. very confucian. it’s very fulfilling as a teacher because their scores are really high. sadly, this isn’t the reality in most schools across the country.

      • Frank de Leon

        This is what worries me about the economic future of the United States. Our leaders do not see it yet and we need a national approach.

      • labcu

        I totally disagree with your assumption!

        My kids are studying in the public school and I am amazed with the educational system’s foundation. They started from Pre K and they are now 4th grader and 1st grader.

        My 4th grader excel greatly in arts and his works had been acknowledged. He just won the 1st round of the spelling bee in his class and now preparing for the next round next week. His science fair investigative project was given a grade of 4 (superior) by the judges and his mathematics performance level is Advanced.

        My 1st grader grades in all subjects are 4 (advanced) except writing and language which he got a grade of 3 (proficient). He was acknowledged as an excellent mathematician in his recent report card.

        Their wisdom are given and the strong educational foundation plays an important role in molding and nurturing their God given qualities.

        With all the above, what preparations are you talking about?

      • Frank de Leon

        I am glad you kids are doing very, very well and I hope they continue to do so and go to the right schools and are able to get fulfilling jobs. But we are not talking about specific students who are doing well. We are talking about US public education in general that in many people’s opinion are inadequate to prepare future citizens to compete in the new global economy which is more and and more knowledge-based. Again you might look up where the US ranks in match and science as compared to other countries.

      • labcu

        why are you upset about other countries educational system where in fact you must be concerned in fixing your own backyard!

        fulfilling jobs? —-It is personal, it is relative!

        right school? —–it is personal, it is relative!

        Don’t rely on man’s ways instead have faith in God’s ways!

      • Frank de Leon

        Geez, man, you neither here nor there. I though you think straight. Bye now.

      • brooklynstoops

        The US DOES NOT have an excellent public school system.

        It takes more than money and infrastructure to produce an excellent school system. As a seasoned New York City public school teacher who has been in the trenches, I can tell you that access to the best curricula and the most modern technology has no impact if the students have no respect for education.

        If culture does not value education, no amount of dollars can fix the system.

      • Frank de Leon

        Well said.

      • tadasolo

        You know despite the shortcomings of providing basic math and science the USA still leads in Nobel Price in Medicine, Physics, Chemistry etc. Although left behind on scorecards against China, Korea, Japan, Singapore and Finland in the early years and high school on the average. There are outstanding high schools that would defy stereotypes in the inner cities. There is a great debate whether this shortcomings will impact the country. Well the results are different in the industry the world cannot match industry Titans like Apple, Google, Facebook, Intel, Microsoft, Amazon, Oracle, Ebay in new technologies and legacy companies like Boeing, Caterpillar, Alcoa, IBM, Ford, Corning Glass, in heavy industry. Cargill and Monsanto in corporate farming and in entertainment Hollywood is unmatched. Do not forget Wall street innovative financial arms. In sports which plays a very integral part in confidence building and team work the USA is on top with medal standings. So results in basic math and science does not necessarily translate in creative and driven kids to excel and become industry leading industries. This is what drives the USA economy with 350 million people. I know you will say it owe 14 trillion dollars and 2 trillion from China. Well the reason the world is buying US securities is they are the best, the most secured and liquid in the world where a buyer is there waiting. No currency can command this for the fact there are over 300 million americans paying taxes and corporate cash and people equity amounts to almost 100 trillion dollars. This mind numbing numbers

      • labcu

        Bingo! very well said sir, well informed individuals provide objective and intelligent opinions and ideas!

      • Islaslolo

        Well said! But as long as the extreme Tea Party does not ruin the US.

      • labcu

        >if you don’t believed in the system why you are still in it?

        >seasoned teacher as you said, what have you done/contribution to fix and improve the system?

        >in school setting, knowledge absorbed by students depends
        on teacher factor!

        >valuing education is personal, it is relative!

      • brooklynstoops

        you have just exposed yourself as a despicable troll.
        at pwede ba mag -tagalog ka na lang at halatang hirap ka sa wikang ingles kaya tuloy walang laman ang ipinagsasabi mo.

        nagsulat na ako sa wikang Filipino para maunawaan mo. entiendes?

      • labcu

        look whose talking? sagutin mo point by point yong tanong ko sa taas! bakit di mo masagot aber? Why kaya? Kc nadahhhhhhhh!
        LOL!

      • Mea Culpa

        Agree.

  • mewo_meow

    10 years of basic education in our country was not addressed and managed well due to repeated lack of everything – teaching force, continuous training for our unsung heroes, classrooms, books, budget for salary, etc. i’m sure the k+12 program will fall to this pit.
    I think no matter how many years of education we will have, if we don’t have qualification fit to the demands of a stiff competitive job market, our graduates will end up being under employed or worse will add to the statistics of the unemployed.

  • jun dela cruz

    the govt can lengthen the time a student stays in school but if quality of teaching isnt changed, then this just adds to the burden of an ordinary family…

  • Eelap

    IMO we must not only value education, but also, put “VALUES” in education.

  • tipaklong

    You’ve got a very nice insight on education here. However, at the rate our country’s economy is concerned, walang mangyayari kahit napakaganda ng educational attainment mo. Kung maganda ang economy ng isang bansa, kahit hindi ka nakatapos ng isang 4-year course, makakakuha ka ng maganda at satisfying na trabaho at masusuportahan mo ang iyong pamilya. Pero sa ngayon, bagsak ang economy, kahit graduate ka ng four year course, chances are you will end up a minimum wage earner. How can a 462.00 per day salary supports you? Majority of the graduates landed an 8 – 5 job with a meager salary. Can’t blame the companies, they can’t provide better salaries otherwise they will end up in bankruptcy. If the economy is good, better job opportunities and less unemployment our country can have.

  • Islaslolo

    It’s not only the parents but also our government who is burdened to provide education, quality education, when we are burdened with too many children to feed, shelter and educate. We need responsible parents but we also need a government that will provide the resources for our citizens to be responsible parents.

    We just adjusted our basic education to K to 12. But is this enough? When recent studies in advanced countries point to the fact that the preschool period in a child’s development – intellectual and emotional – is just as important, if not more important, to their success in life and as members of society. And how can parents cope with educating their children before kindergarten when they have too many?

    This is a good topic of discussion that you brought up since the future of our country depends on the next generation of citizens so we got to be sure we turn them into good citizens.

    I hope we continue this discussion.

  • ambugon

    in order to see the real value of education dep ed and higher ed must remove the non-essential subjects in all courses. dep ed and hi. ed must also regulate profiteering in education! higher fees and univs and colleges preying on students cheapen education. govt must enhance more the voc. educ.

  • josh_alexei

    To reiterate my fellow Commentator Islaslolo the well thought argument about the early childhood development as the most important stage of a child intellectual development, our own Education Ministry allocated more $billions for our 4 and 5 years old (kin 1 and 2) to include an early childhood Educator to assist the Teacher in a full day session that includes a half day, day care environment to give the child the early love for schooling. And to free the parents from extra expense of child care and enable them to upgrade their own skills or go to work or have their own free time.

    Also as an incentive for a child to stay in school, child allowances are provided until the child is 18 years old and an early qualification for Driver’s License at 16 instead of 18. Also parents can be sued for Truancy if they neglect to give their Children a proper education by sending them to a recognized schools, (schools from kinder 1 and 2 to Grade 12 are Publicly funded including Catholic Schools, the 3 % of students of other Faith schools and private schools can have their schools fees allowed as tax deductions)…

    That is how our Government Value Education and the result is we have the Highest Rate of University Graduates and the most highly educated work force..Mr. Gates of Microsoft used to recruits many of his best from Western and Waterloo Universities and that was where the Man who founded Blackberry hailed and also became the Chancellor of Waterloo (President)

    • Islaslolo

      Indeed! Canada, Western Europe and the Scandinavian countries have excellent school system. Having Kinder 1, as you mentioned, is a real benefit for the children as well as the parents. Most of the time, we forget the parents particularly our overworked mothers in our “macho” society where the burden of household chores and childrearing falls unjustly to the female partner. Having child allowance emphasizes the importance of our children and their care but I think the Philippines cannot afford this one yet.

      Is it any wonder then that these same countries have good governance, satisfied citizenry, clean streets and well-kept houses and buildings, and most important of all, peaceful and safe environment? To me, this is the real essence of freedom.



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