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Protest was not all about funding but also crisis in education

08:58 PM October 05, 2011

This is in reaction to the news item “Abad tells activists: More funds won’t do.” (Inquirer, 9/26/11)

Students took to the streets to protest the education crisis, not merely the

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budget cuts.

Why does government find it hard to engage the claim of activists that the education crisis stems from several factors, and gives rise to issues beyond education spending?

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One of the most simple correlations we’ve raised is this: Underfunding of education – Quality education is influenced by the quality of teachers, the quality of the infrastructure and equipment, and, ultimately, the quality of the students. This is where underfunding matters most and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad should know this by now. Teachers need to feed themselves, the school buildings have to stay up, the laboratories need to be well-stocked, and the students have to pay jeepney and train fares to get to school. This is exacerbated by inequitable funding.

Inequitable funding – Government makes so many distinctions: first between basic and tertiary education, and then among state colleges and universities. What is clear is that education is being funded disproportionately. This results in distinct differences between the quality of education in each school, leading to commercialization of education.

Commercialization of education – Education is treated like a commodity, hawked like property.  This is why we have the perennial debate between private and public control over education, but in either domain, there is no framework for our educational system.

Lack of educational framework for education – We have no substantial goals nor sound philosophy for our education. The Long Term Higher Education Development Plan aims to “diffuse knowledge in the relevant and responsive to the dynamically changing domestic and international environment.” It is, mildly put, reactionary. The government has no vision for this country; we lack a national industrialization framework.

Lack of national industrialization framework – We have no specific growth goals for our country which is backward and semi-feudal. Are we going to be a production-based country? Agricultural? Manufacturing? Services? A mix of all?

True, there are many inefficiencies lodged in running our schools. Our school administrators try their best to minimize these; this is why UP president Alfredo Pascual espouses “operational excellence” along with academic excellence. But we balk when our esteemed academic and administrative heads are compelled to be political lackeys – so they can secure sufficient funds from the executive branch and Congress; and especially, assure the timely release of the funds. (Note: Over nine years, the unreleased appropriations for UP reached P6.19 billion.)

Focus on your studies, says Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte rather rashly. It is as if, had we really studied, we would never have noticed how injudicious the system is.

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Fight for greater state subsidy for social services!

—KRISSY CONTI,

UP Student Regent,

[email protected]

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TAGS: Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, education, education budget, Protest
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