Education at the time of crisis

Anthony Chua

For most Filipino families, June brings out anxiety, stress, and depression. In this month millions of Filipino students will return to school for the school year 2008-2009 on June 10, which, for a nation which, according to a survey, has gone poorer because of breakneck increase of prices of food and basic commodities.

In the past two months, Filipino parents were able to spend the money, which they should have given as allowances and other miscellaneous expenses for the schooling of their children, on acquiring their basic necessities. Because of the financial crunch, many of the parents are even tinkering on the idea of dropping their children out of school just to survive these trying times. What’s the use of preparing their children for their future if they can’t even feed their family?

No one can blame them for impulsively embracing such a shortsighted view on the education of their children. The Philippine inflation rate shoot up to 9.6% in May, the highest in 9 years. With the soaring prices of rice and all goods that meet the eye, most of the parents, especially the poor, are forced to postpone their children’s education until the hard times are over. Others have even deprived the schooling of their children.

Aware of the financial malady that Filipino parents are undergoing and its effect on the education of Filipino youth, Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Jesli Lapus, recently ordered that public schools should strictly observe the no-fee collection policy. DepEd also scrapped the policy of wearing uniforms of public school students. To curb the urge of parents to drop their students out of school, they even told the media that they are deeming to jail parents who refuse to enroll their children.

Yet, despite the consoling solution by DepEd, many Pinoy parents still hesitate on enrolling their children. Because of the little progress that the Philippines has attained, while other neighboring developing countries are now enjoying phenomenal economic growth, some have lost their faith on the role of education as a vital key for economic progress. “Can the education of my child increase their chances for a prosperous future?” they ask with sarcasm, their opinion based on what they have experienced and witnessed in the past, when many college graduates were unable to secure the future they had dreamt of.

But the present and future generations require highly educated people. Ideas and skills are currently vital drivers for economic growth of all countries and acquiring affordable and quality education is a must for survival.

The Philippines continues to be one of the largest suppliers of highly competitive workers and professionals all over the world. From countries that are liberal in accepting foreign workers, like the United States, to those that are anxious in accepting foreign workers, overseas Filipino workers (OFW’s) are being sought after. This only shows that the world is now acknowledging, and even desiring, the intelligence, skills, and values found exclusively in Filipinos. This proves that there is a bright future ahead of them if they push themselves on being properly educated.

To solve the Philippines’ prevailing education problem, all sectors of economy should do their homework in providing affordable and quality education to the Filipino youth. Mankind has innovated and invented ample technology and resources to make education accessible to all economic and social classes. We just need the appropriate knowledge, skills and values—things that whole world seeks in Filipinos—to make this elusive endeavor a reality.

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