By Ernesto M. Pernia
A plethora of explanations has been advanced as to why the Philippines falls well behind the other four Asean originals (Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia). These range from the protectionist policies for “infant industries,” political instability particularly in the 1980s that practically shooed Japanese FDIs (foreign direct investments) to our neighbors, weak governance and dysfunctional institutions, to poor infrastructure, rapid population growth, brain and skills drain from massive emigration, etc. While all these likely mattered one way or another, little is said about the underinvestment in education in general and in science and technology (S&T) in particular. Being a public good, education and S&T create positive externalities and, hence, tend to be privately underconsumed and undersupplied especially in terms of quality.
Tall concrete pillars are rising one after another in the Diliman campus of the University of the Philippines to serve as the foundation of an elevated monorail, just like the one running around the Disney World amusement park. This monorail will loop around the campus, allowing access from the outside into the university and vice versa through several stations.
In nation with so many young people, education is crucial for progress and development. This is particularly important because as of 2010, 41.8 percent of the Philippine population (or some 38.5 million people) were of school age (5 to 24). Education presents a way out of poverty or a leg up in a career path.
Talk about the best of both worlds. Filipinos are well-known for their adherence to old-world tradition and their capability to innovate for new-school thinking. Most timely and commendable then is the new government program, fittingly named “Smarter Philippines,” to push science and technology (S&T) for the population’s greatest benefit.
Inquirer’s Sept. 20 editorial, titled “Family ties,” concluded, “It is thus necessary that the government solve as soon as possible the perennial problems of poverty and lack of gainful employment, so that more and more parents would stay in the Philippines and continue to care for their children.” This is not possible. First, poverty and [...]