After the abrupt ending of summer (because typhoons had came in earlier than usual), more than 22 million students from elementary, high school and college here in the Philippines are now back to their classrooms. Whether they like it or not, they have to go back to school to learn and be prepared for the life and future that lies ahead of them. Correct me if I'm wrong but as far as I could remember, the Philippines is the only country in the world that starts the school year on June - everyone else starts their classes in September.
Could it be a sign that while everyone else is doing their best to improve their standards of education, we are 'uniquely' left behind?
Coinciding with the opening of classes this month, I'm coming up with a series of articles that would talk about the current state of Philippine education. When I say here the 'state of Philippine education' it encompasses all issues related to it: from the conditions of our classrooms to the attitude of today's youth and the view of Philippine society today towards getting 'an education.'
Ito ang aking maliit na kontribusyon upang i-angat ang kalagayan at siguro panibaguhin kahit papaano ng sistemang pangedukasyon sa Pilipinas.
Next to food, education is the 2nd top priority of Filipino families when it comes to budgeting. Each one of us believes that good education can lead to a brighter future and help uplift our family from poverty. That's why parents would do everything just to send their children to the best schools to get high-quality education that their kids deserved. If they have to take three to four jobs or pawn their precious wedding rings, they would do it - so that their children could get good education.
In other words, Filipinos sincerely believe that education is their one way ticket to beat poverty and live the good life.
But the problem is, more than 25 million Filipinos live under $2 a day. They can hardly afford to feed the mouths of their hungry children. And this hinders them from getting their one way ticket to rise from the slums.
I had just finished enrolling for the coming semester yesterday. By the way for those who are dropping by here for the first time, as I have mentioned in my previous posts, I'm a UP evictee. I'm now currently studying at CEU Malolos.
Nothing to be proud of being evicted in the Philippines' top university. In fact if you're going to see my previous post, I deeply regret it because that incident had to happen just to 'wake me up from the deepest slumber.' Fortunately, I had my number one support system around me - my family. They had 'saved' me from further going astray and gave me another chance to finish a college degree.
Why did I share this one and how is it related to the 'state of Philippine education?' Lots of teens like me failed to understand how lucky we are to study and be able to get a good education.
As I was going home the other day from enrollment, I overheard a conversation between a group of high school students and an adult - most probably their neighbor. What made me eavesdrop on their conversation is that it revolved around their studies and what do they want to be in life - a fitting example for this series.
It started on the topic of smoking. This would be a future topic on this blog but what is quite disturbing to know coming from them that it is just a start. They would probably be 'moving on' to smoking weed then to taking shabu or the 'much cheaper' cough syrups. But what 'really made my day' is that the 'adult' had 'educated' them on how these things are being called in the streets: damo for the marijuana and bato for the shabu.
Instead of telling these teens to avoid them, he had even bragged about 'experiencing' such things when he was in high school which eventually led to his expulsion and never be able to study again. These 'statements' made my day.
Bu what is even more upsetting is that these teens don't really have any plans to finish their studies. When the adult asked them on what they are going to do with their lives, they had proudly answered: "E di magtatrabaho." It made me utter these words which one of them had heard because he was infront of me: "Naku, eh hindi kaya madaling maghanap ng trabaho."
I believe, my statement is the sad fact of life here in the Philippines that had been deeply embedded within me because of my 'job-hunting spree' when I was then deciding to quit college and go away from my family. Maybe I was lucky that I had been accepted in the positions I've applied for (mostly in call centers). But if you're going to think about it, because I did not finish any degree, most probably, I would be stuck doing the same thing forever.
That's why the youth needs to get an education first so they can find a decent job. But how is it related to the 'sorry' state of Philippine education today? Simple. More and more of the youth today fail to value education and realize that without it they are nothing.
Sa mga kapwa ko kabataan, makita sana natin na ang edukasyon ang tanging susi sa ating magandang kinabukasan. Lalo't higit sa mga nakakapag-aral, tumingin lang kayo sa paligid. Napakarami diyan ang gustong mag-aral ngunit walang kakayanan ang kanilang mga magulang para pag-aralin sila.
Pero bakit nga ba talaga maraming ayaw na ang mag-aral o tinatamad mag-aral?
The blame, but not all of it, goes to our rotten educational system.
But where does some of the blame go to? Partly, it could be due to the parents' lack of investment in the education of their children.
Money is not equivalent in getting a good education. Enrolling them in the best schools does not relieve them of their responsibilities for their child's education. Financial support is not enough. Parents need to be there every step of the way.
They may not be able to help kids do the homework of their kids but at least ask them how they are doing at school or what have they learned during the day. Parents should also attend school activities where they are needed like Family Day, PTA meetings and especially graduation. I believe most of you would agree that the absence of the presence of our parents on these occasions are very heart-breaking for a child. Indeed, time is an another important investment in your child's education.
Aside from that, give your full support if your children would want to engage in extra-curricular activities. Being a student is not just about getting good grades but being able to excel also in other things like sports. In fact, our society does not need highly-intelligent geniuses who can compute a complex Math problem in 5 seconds. We need well-rounded and wise Filipinos who can adapt to what's happening and can do something about it.
Something that cannot be learned alone inside the four corners of the classroom.
Indeed, the main stakeholders of Philippine education: students and parents, have also something to do with the current plight of our educational system.
To be continued...