By Eva Callueng
Among the many issues debates, forums and the like tackle, education is among the top three sectors that can either win or lose votes for any candidate. Their positions on education issues are carefully analyzed and given scores. Their answers for each question are jotted down and put in a matrix so that no single thread will be missed.
The Mulat Pinoy Kapihan Session on February 27, at Bo’s Coffee, Glorietta 5, Makati City, confirmed the commitments of our candidates. Among those who spoke on the issue were Vice-Presidential candidate Perfecto Yasay, Jr. of Bangon Pilipinas, Dr. Zelda Zablan of the UP Population Institute, former PRC Chairperson Dr. Leonor Tripon-Rosero, Representatives from Partido Nacionalista, and Mr. Wilfredo Prilles, Jr., LGU Representative from the Bicol region.
How many candidates are daring enough to increase the capabilities and range of opportunities of Filipinos through education? Who among them has specific programs of actions responsive to the various issues confronting the sector? Many of them have a standard answer to each question.
Among the top threads discussed was the assessment of the education situationz in the different parts of the country. Local budget funds must be tapped, according to Mr. Wilfredo Prilles, Jr., who claimed that local government offices are in the best position to assess the education situation and implement access programs in their respective areas. This was countered by Dr. Rosero, who believed that the implementation of programs must be left to the sector agencies, as controversies on the over-empowerment of Local Government Units were sufficiently raised. This includes the hiring of the personal choices of an elected candidate, in spite of inefficiency and low performance rates. This cycle impedes the growth of the sector in increasing the capabilities of the Filipino people.
In addition, issues on population are seen to be closely connected to the quality of education an individual achieves. Education seems to be a moving slice in the pie that is the family budget. As the number of family members increases, the budget for education decreases. This is then reflected in the low rate of schooling completion, even at the elementary level.
Another issue raised was the ‘brain drain’ phenomenon: people from rural areas go to Metro Manila to look for ‘better’ job opportunities. Centralizing opportunities in major metropolitan areas instead of improving and creating equally competitive academic centers in the countryside contributes to ‘brain drain’ challenge. The vice-presidential bet of Bangon Pilipinas, Atty. Perfecto ‘Jun’ Yasay, claimed that he is a proud graduate from the countryside. His successful experience must be noted, nurtured, and must be given focus in making programmatic actions and policies. Efforts outside Metro Manila must be concentrated on encouraging students and increasing opportunities around the country, creating competitive centers all over the Philippines.
While everyone sees the importance of education and its connection to human development, the election of candidates who will improve our education is crucial. The Kapihan Sessions tackle opinions and agenda from each candidate; the session on Education did not end that day, but rather it was a beginning for a continuing effort, as necessary points from each candidate are gathered to compare all the aspirants.
Education is necessary to uplift the lives of people, but it alone is not enough. The education agenda is so important, as more freedom is generated through knowledge, which then becomes our tool to fight poverty, ignorance, and corruption of both material and non-material entities.
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