As International Literacy Day passes, I think about our local literacy rate…
I’m writing this on the eve of International Literacy Day, which I had been celebrating for nigh two months now. First with a contest, which produced creative participants. Then with this post.
Incidentally, some lovely — and quite timely — news greeted me in my Facebook inbox today: I had won a Levi’s contest held by AskMeWhats. It was a last minute decision to participate, after much prodding from my friend Rowena (Animetric). Last minute because I didn’t want to compete with my sister (who was participating in another blog and she did actually win, too), plus I felt like my brain could no longer churn out creative entries. I couldn’t think of a catchy tag line for the contest’s “I Believe” promo, so I just answered as honestly as I can:
And yet there are two pressing issues when it comes to this particular sector in our local news:
1. The addition of 2 years to our basic education.
We are studying the extension of the basic education cycle from 10 years to the global standard of 12 years. The addition of two years of schooling is expected to enrich basic education and enable our children to get into the best universities and, consequently, get the best jobs. (Source)
This proposal I actually agree with, even if I know it could be a new entry point for more corruption. I am sick of the Philippines being called a “slave nation” or being turned into a flesh hunting ground by those international perverts (I still get disgusting messages from fugly international dirty old men whose educational backgrounds fall waaaay underneath mine). I want our nation to be globally competitive, even if it means we have to play their game.
What most people here don’t realize is that our college degrees are no longer considered college degrees because we lack two years of basic education. Many of us might have spent four years in college, but it all amounts to a vocational degree. I was probably lucky I pursued a second bachelor’s degree before moving on to graduate studies. Not many people are as bent on pursuing scholarships as I am and really, not many people should have to be as crazy as I am.
Furthermore, I wouldn’t be agreeing to this proposal if I weren’t in the higher education sector. I have seen how diluted college analytical thinking have become. I actually blame the sorry state of our basic education: errors in books, lack of facilities, lack of teacher training…
Right now, we in the higher education sector are trying to fix what we can but this second issue might just hinder us…
2. The decrease in state universities’ budgets
We allocated P23.4 billion to 112 State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) in 2011. This is 1.7 percent lower than the P23.8 billion budget for 2010. We are gradually reducing the subsidy to SUCs to push them toward becoming self-sufficient and financially independent, given their ability to raise their income and to utilize it for their programs and projects. (Source)
Ok, professionally, I shouldn’t be affected by this because I work at a private school. Personally, I am affected because I am a graduate of a state university. This battle is of a personal nature. Honestly, being in education does not pay all that well. (That’s why many of us are professors by day, artists/scientists/entrepreneurs by night. It’s the nightly gigs that bring in the dough.) I am an educator not because it’s my main source of income but because it is my passion. It’s a vocation. Education is my advocacy.
I am of the firm belief that lack of education is the root of all evil. When people are not learned, it’s easier for political leaders to take advantage of them. (I consider religious leaders here to be very political.) When people are illiterate, they make uninformed decisions that — when piled up and combined with other people’s uninformed decisions — ultimately end in the hindrance of progress.
I could go on and on and on.
My bottom line is, let us please concentrate on education above all else. It’s our intangible weapon against so many social ills. Deducting from the state universities’ budget isn’t going to empower those who cannot afford to pay for college education. We need intellectuals, ones who could improve knowledge so that younger generations may benefit from them. Ones who could propel this country out of poverty. There are so very few intellectuals left. Soon they’ll be a dying breed.