Thursday, March 22, 2007

Education is a right, not a privilege

Just a quick post before I get to work: I was incensed by this article in Malaya (and headlined by most of the other dailies) saying that 2 out of 3 highschool grads aren't ready for college.

Education Secretary Jesli Lapus said the NCAE results showed that the government is on the right track in pursuing technical-vocational program as one of the solutions to the growing mismatch between the skills of graduates and the needs of the job market.

Amazing that the government still manages to trumpet its supposed success whuile blithely ignoring the fact that the education system in the country has long been deteriorating.

I've been schooled by state-run institutions my whole life. During highschool none of the bathrooms had running water. The floor of classroom for honor science students sloped downward, which skewed the results of our physics experiments. The classroom was declared unsafe a few years later. Even then, we were under constant threat of being closed down due to a lack of state subsidy.

But we had it good, compared to others.

To get to school, PUP students have to cross a railroad.

My aunt is a teacher at a large public elementary in school in Manila, where classes are held in two sessions - from 6-12 and 1-7, because there are too many students and no enough schools.

Sections run from A to J, according to aptitude. She says they've pretty much given up on the ones below B. One mother even told her, "My son just isn't smart, like me."

My mom is also teacher, one of those who used to close down fly-by-night nursing schools because their proprietors charged staggering sums in return for a substandard education that wouldn't enable its graduates to pass the nursing exams. As a result, she's made a lot of enemies, and has a pending libel case.

Education was a hot topic when I was still a staffer at the Collegian. Every year, the news staffers would track the decreasing budget given to UP, break it down, and call for an increase in state subsidy.

UP increased its tuition fee by 300% last year. Intial analyses say that it is the lower middle class who will be most affected by this.

Not to simplify the issue - there are a lot of other factors why hs students aren't ready for college. But one of the main reasons is the continued lack of state subsidy.

Again and again, the old rallying cry holds true. Education is a right, not a privilege.