Gordon proposes teachers, technology to upgrade education system

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Dick Gordon

By Patricia Vega

Like most—if not all—presidential candidates, education ranks high in the platform priorities of Bagumbayan standard-bearer Sen. Richard Gordon. The senator notes that while the Philippine Constitution mandates that education be given top priority, current and previous administrations have allocated more funds in the budget to debt servicing and local government. At the recent round of presidential forums, Gordon has bandied about two major education investments: the staggered increase of teachers’ salaries from P15,000 to P40,000, and the procurement of Kindle e-book readers for 17 million public school students.

The rationale for increasing teachers’ salaries is fairly straightforward. Competitive wages will attract skilled graduates, who—with their basic needs now adequately met—can better exert their efforts in teaching students. Improved teacher performance results in improved student performance.

Amazon Kindle

The conversion from textbook to Kindle, however, is not as clear. Gordon posits that e-book readers can store digital copies of school curriculum from elementary to college levels. What the senator fails to address is the price of the digital textbooks. Unless the government also subsidizes the publishers’ cost of converting existing textbooks or developing new ones for the digital format, as well as the subscribers’ downloading costs, students may still end up shouldering a hefty amount. It also elides the issue of textbook quality face by the current Department of Education.

Even more disturbing is Gordon’s proposal for funding the Kindle project, which is estimated at P85 billion. The initial plan is to cut down on corruption and ensure better collections and allocations, but should that prove unsuccessful, the senator plans on improving the mining industry and using its generated revenues to fund the purchase of Kindles. Mining is an extractive process and must be exercised in moderation, since the resources are non-renewable. While prioritizing education is a must, doing so at the expense of the environment may prove disastrous and how a Gordon-led administration will respond to that is something that he has yet to be addressed.

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