August 27, 2009

Tere – Not Another Band-aid Solution

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:44 pm by updced

Not Another Band-aid Solution

I have to say I was shocked when I learned that the plan to add one year to tertiary education was never based on any study when there are too many problems to look into that might have been the root cause for the incompetent education system in the Philippines. Was it a big joke? What was their basis? Based on the two articles I read (whose links are provided above), the idea to add one more year to college education was conceived by CHED in its attempt to pattern the Philippine education system after other countries. They say (and which Ma’am Ched also validated) that it’s only the Philippines and one other country that are still implementing a four-year college education program which means we have been left behind. My next question, what is their basis to say that adding one more year will better the performance of Filipino educators and students?

The proposed program which consists of 10 years in elementary and high school, 2 years “pre-university program”, and 3 years specialization as conceptualized by CHED is not a bad idea at all, although it is merely an idea and not a solution. I think the starting point is we have to admit that there is something wrong with the current system. And once we have done that, we can move on to the next step which is to know what the problem/s is/are. These problems are very evident. We cannot deny that most public schools do not have enough rooms to accommodate everyone who wants to go to school. Students share textbooks which are either very old or substandard in terms of content. Teacher quality is not 100% standard because they don’t have access to resources to continue their own learning, and worse, they are underpaid. Many schools do not have complete laboratory equipment needed to study certain subjects. All these and more are observable in every public school I have been to – AND – private schools share almost the same issues, maybe not those that relate to resources and facilities but quality. I consider myself lucky that my parents worked really hard to send me to a very good private school in preparation for my college education. I have seen other private schools which I never dreamt of going to despite being a “private” school. Why? I could easily compare our teachers’ quality and say without a doubt that ours were far better because for one, they, themselves, had good educational background because either they paid a huge amount of money to get into good private schools, or they were one of the very few scholars who were able to get a diploma in reputable public schools. Another is the school, itself, funded the continuous teacher development programs to ensure up-to-date teaching methodologies.

After we have identified the problems, it’s time to think of the root cause for these problems. Well, what do you think? It’s obviously the wrong budget allocation for education and blatant corruption. I do not need numbers to prove this point. I think we can all agree that corruption has always been the Philippine government’s biggest problem. So does this mean we cannot fix the problems anymore because getting rid of corruption or at least minimizing it is almost impossible? I think not. That is where our roles come in as UP students who are supposed to be the “scholars ng bayan”. We, who have been gifted with critical and independent minds, are responsible for the nation’s future by taking part in solving the problems of the present. We need to make a solid and unified stand and take charge of combating the causes for the growing corruption. And I think we can do this without lobbying at the Malacanang. We just have to be aware of what’s going on around us and speak our minds so others will be aware too. And by time we choose our leaders, we are able to make the wisest decisions, because no matter what we do as a nation, we will always role up to our leaders.

Once we have determined the root cause of the problems, it’s time to test our possible solutions. This is the gamble, the experimental period. There are many possible solutions but we can only choose the best and the most efficient. We may fail, but that’s part of the process because everytime we do, we learn.

Once we have identified the best solution, we can evaluate it and see how we can sustain it in the long run. This has been one of DepEd’s, CHED’s, and TESDA’s problems – following through. No matter how great the solutions to our problems are, if they are not sustained, we’ll just end up having the same, if not, worse problems. As for the government, they must also consider the budget for this function.

If we are able to conduct this kind of study, I’m pretty sure we will have a clear sense of direction because no matter how many years we add to education if the quality remains the same, nothing will change. We cannot afford another band-aid solution especially that a lot of Filipino students are under the poverty line. One more year in college may even become another major reason they won’t go to school anymore because they would rather work and earn money than spend another year learning the same things they believe they would on a 4-year program. Let’s not make education a business for school owners, but rather, a social institution that will shape the Filipino learners to become experts in their field.

Why is it that students spend the same amount of time in different schools and yet there is a surprising variance in their success rate? Again, it’s because of quality. Schools are not calibrated in terms of quality because of a number of reasons which we have to deep dive into. There is no shortcut to something both good and lasting. And when I say shortcut, I did not mean time. I meant the amount of effort and commitment the society and the government put on education. We have been working hard for the longest time but how far have we gone? I think it’s about time we work smart.

– Maria Fe Theresa Hufana


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