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Kris-Crossing Mindanao

PhD: Sh*t is Piling Higher and Deeper

In an earlier column, I wrote about how greed has somehow managed to snake into the hallowed halls of academe, with academic leaders endlessly milking funds from research and extension projects that they do not participate in, as coresearchers or fieldworkers, or support staff. (“Greed in the academe,” 2/11/19).

Two weeks ago, I received an email (aside from more than 6,000 shares on social media) thanking me for that piece, urging me to write more about corruption within an institution popularly perceived to be impervious to any form of anomaly. After all, teachers and professors are supposed to be role models for many core values that we hold dear — honesty, integrity, credibility and related social ideals.

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It seems that such travesty in the most respectable social institution and system — the academe, and the entire Philippine educational system — has been embedded in it a long time ago.

Two years ago, as the gender and inclusive education adviser for a foreign-funded educational assistance program for the then Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, I had the opportunity to go around the different schools divisions in the region to mentor a team of Department of Education teachers in doing field research. It was also an eye-opening experience for me.

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I have already heard of countless sob stories of public school teachers who go through innumerable hassles just to get into the system, and more hurdles as they get into it. But as a researcher, I considered such information anecdotal evidence, and not pervasive enough to declare that indeed, corruption and other forms of irregularities happen at practically all levels in the educational system — from basic to the tertiary level.

For instance, I learned that passing the licensure examination for teachers is not enough to enter the system; one has to be under the “good graces” of local government officials, or of the officials of the schools division where he or she wants to be part of. In some cases, the so-called good graces entail pecuniary favors. I personally know of several cases where the prospective teacher needs to cough out at least six months’ worth of their future salary as an assurance of being granted an item in the local schools division.

Interestingly, as the level of education goes higher, the forms of corruption are done in more “sophisticated” means, that even those who are the victims of such mulcting believe there is nothing wrong with such schemes.

I am talking about university-based officials who, with the three-letter title they brandish around like a badge of power, have become avaricious not only of power but also of the monetary perks that come with it. Some of them have the audacity to create so-called technical working groups that actually do not do any work, much less technical advice, except sign vouchers and payrolls including themselves among the payees.

Space is not enough to list all the other types of “sh*t” that is happening in our supposedly hallowed educational institutions. So if we are seeing our country in deep sh*t, it is partly because many of our PhD holders are only concerned about earning bragging rights of having reached that level, and not on doing research or extension work that will change their part of the world for the better.

But maybe it is because this multiplier system we deeply respect has started training academics with some BS (bullsh*t); who later on decide to move up by getting an MS (more sh*t). By the time they reach the highest advanced degree, the sh*t has Piled Higher and Deeper.

Now you know what this three-letter title can also mean.

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TAGS: academic research, greed, Kris-Crossing Mindanao, Rufa Cagoco-Guiam
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