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:

“I believe that education will shape our future.”

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.

9 Comments

  1. Andy Uyboco

    September 8, 2010 at 2:31 am

    I am not for the additional 2 years of basic education simply because I believe in quality over quantity.

    There is something seriously wrong with an educational system where most people only utilize around 10-20% of what they learned after they graduate from college. They have had to do additional research, had to be trained, had to learn on the job, or even take extra courses.

    What I would like to see DepEd do is to streamline the current system and teach only what is essential. Teachers have to be trained to make lessons interesting and stop acting as if their subject is the most important one in the child's life.

    I have encountered high school students before whose chemistry teacher gave lessons and assignments AS IF they were chemistry majors (which I doubt any of them ever did — she probably scared the hell out of them).

    10 years IS A LOT if only someone intelligent enough knew what to put into those 10 years, instead of just following the dictates of tradition and following a curriculum because it has been “tested” for years.

    That may have worked 50 years ago, but not in today's information age. Facts change very quickly today. Notice how confused we are as to what food, diet and lifestyle is really healthy and what is not because new “research” keeps coming out.

    We need to teach kids TO THINK, not get bogged down by facts. We need to teach kids how to SEE INTER-RELATIONSHIPS, how to SYNTHESIZE, and how to USE DATA, not just to memorize facts, figures and techniques.

    This is the more important thing that must be done. Merely adding on 2 years won't do squat if it means 2 more years with incompetent teachers and an irrelevant curriculum.

    If we want better results from education, there needs to be a RADICAL SHIFT on how education is done (and I'm not just talking about the Philippines but all over the world as well).

    Sige na…ang haba na nito. Baka mas mahaba pa sa post mo. Hehe.

  2. skysenshi

    September 8, 2010 at 2:48 am

    @Andy
    I actually agree with everything that you said. Haha. The only reason I am in favor of the additional 2 years is the fact that our college degrees are no longer considered college degrees outside the Philippines.

    Which brings me to another question…do we want them to work outside the country? It branches out into another string of discussions. (I think we need more intelligent people in here than out there.)

    As for the information overload, I completely agree. I have had to water down my syllabi just to make sure that they focus on the analysis than just the facts.

  3. Andy Uyboco

    September 8, 2010 at 6:28 am

    With a proper educational system, I don't think it will be such a big problem whether people choose to work in or out of the country. Even if our “best and brightest” go out this year, we can always churn out more next year.

    More than just looking at academic intelligence, what is more important is for schools to create the proper mindset, a positive and happy disposition, and a zest for life and work.

    Easier said than done, but then again, that would be a more worthwhile project than simply adding a couple of years to an already cumbersome system.

    Hmmm…makagawa nga ng sariling blog post. Hehehe.

  4. skysenshi

    September 8, 2010 at 8:21 am

    Isubscribe ko so I know when you do post your own blog entry about this.

    Ako kasi talaga technicality ang issue eh. If other countries will not consider our college degrees college degrees, might as well add 2 years na. Kesa naman ulitin pa nila buong college experience when they do get there.

  5. Jaesarr

    September 8, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    I think it's a matter of academic inflation. Companies before used to accept people with degrees like hotcakes. Nowadays, if you want a really good job you'd need a master's or a PhD. I'm not saying it's how it is right now but I see it coming or possibly happening.

    Locally, most high school teachers even stigmatize creatives and forcefully produce (their “so-called” version of) intellectuals. I used to draw a lot when I was in high school but swayed away from that hobby because a teacher said I was spending too much time on useless talent. My dad even stereotyped people who draw as homosexuals.

    Although I still do agree on adding an additional 2 years of education, because frankly, people do not mature so easily when they're still 17. And yet (locally), we expect them to be studying at a college level of education.

  6. skysenshi

    September 8, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    @Jaessar
    That too. I noticed that 17-year-olds now are not as mature as 17-year-olds ten years ago. Plus, I also had a dilemma when I was sixteen and was about to take my entrance exams. I did not know what career I wanted to be in. I wanted to do so many things.

    I ended up taking so many degrees because of it. I didn't like my first course but I graduated because I didn't believe in shifting then. Besides, I figured out what I wanted when I was 19 — months before my graduation. I couldn't exactly shift.

    In other countries, you get into college at 18-19 — which is the same age I had my decisive moment.

  7. Jaesarr

    September 9, 2010 at 6:32 am

    I was lucky enough to actually take a year's off from academics. It was during those times that I actually got fueled up and truly decided to take multimedia arts. hehe, fun times. I used to call myself “Desperate Houseboy”, would have had done season 2 but I had to go to school lol

  8. skysenshi

    September 9, 2010 at 6:51 am

    I usually take a year off academics…after graduation. LOL. Kaya I always want to finish early so I can rest early. But this PhD is probably the last then I'll study on my own na.

  9. Jaesarr

    September 28, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    I was lucky enough to actually take a year's off from academics. It was during those times that I actually got fueled up and truly decided to take multimedia arts. hehe, fun times. I used to call myself “Desperate Houseboy”, would have had done season 2 but I had to go to school lol

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