Text and photos by Bryan Sotto, Social NetWorth Blogger
Being educated, whether formal or informal, is the process of learning skills and gaining experiences. It hones our abilities, helps shape our perceptions, and maximizes our potentials. It is a prerequisite for an individual to survive the toughness of the real world.
Attaining quality formal education is every young person’s ticket to a good future. Aside from it being a requirement for a good job, one’s educational attainment also comes with the assumption that the knowledge should be used for the betterment of society, the nation, and the world as a whole. In today’s world, however, the education system has been plagued with issues, such as corruption and curricula that fail to address the actual needs of society.
As a reaction to this concern, the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP) presented their educational reform platform this June 2012. They called for a reform that integrates formal education more with the needs of society, as education is a social institution that formally socializes members of our society.
In the Philippine context, according to SCAP, our educational framework has three major problems: capitalists, resources, and a profit-based educational system. SCAP explains that education nowadays is being dictated by capitalist institutions and misleading information found in the media. The educational system fails to nurture the utmost potential of individuals and align them towards parts of society that needs manpower the most.
False advertisements have been misleading students into taking up courses that don’t match actual available job opportunities and yield only short-term unstable jobs. They also restrict the individuality and potential of students as persons who ought to be the agents of positive change in society. Take the craze for a nursing degree from a few years back, for example.
From 2006-2008, nursing became the most in-demand course in the Philippines. This was because of a boom in the demand for nurses abroad. Not only was there a great increase in students who took up nursing, but also an exodus of our nurses and health-care professionals to other countries.
As reported: “Health Secretary Francisco Duque has estimated that 85% of the country’s nurses have left the country. Many graduates are retraining so that they can join the exodus. People in the Philippines are queuing up to train as nurses as they seek ways of escaping dire poverty by working abroad. This year, 15,000 Filipinos will leave to nurse the sick and the aged in the West, following the vast majority of the country’s trained nurses.”(The Independent, January 25, 2008).
This event may have opened high-paying job opportunities for some and contributed to the increase of incoming money to the country, but this was just in the short run. If we look at the bigger picture, our country accrued more losses than gains. We experienced a devastating drain in manpower in the healthcare sector, and when one economic crisis after another hit the foreign countries that employed our nurses, it resulted in the huge unemployment rates that devastated our country even more.
Another problem that the SCAP cited is the misallocation of resources. The budget provided for the education sector undoubtedly insufficient. From time to time, corrupt officials also shamelessly take a cut from what little financing remains for education just to fatten their undeserving pockets. Most of our schools from all levels of education suffer from a lack of facilities and teachers. This matter of budget insufficiency is pretty obvious to us all so I don’t think any further elaborations on this problem is necessary.
Finally, there’s the matter of the profit-based education system. Nowadays, according to SCAP, education is not just about money problems; it is a money problem. Today, the expenses for studying in schools of “good quality,” those that would give you a huge advantage in landing a good job, require lots of money that only the rich few can have easy access to. With a lot of schools increasing fees, getting a good education has become even more difficult for the less-fortunate majority.
This is just sad. Poverty should never be an obstacle to learning. Formal education should be made more accessible to everybody. Education supposed to be an individual right, after all, and not a privilege.
Education, as a major institution, should prepare citizens to be individuals of progress. By the end of our formal education, the courses we have taken should enable each of us to maximize our potential, discover where our strengths lie, know what our passions in life are, and understand where our society needs us the most. Our capacity as agents of positive change should not be hindered by poverty and the dictates of money. Our educational system should be focused on more than just the courses perceived to be the profitable ones. Just as SCAP presented, education should also give equal focus to its roles in transmitting culture, promoting social and political integration, maintaining social control, honing our abilities in varied fields of studies and learning, and serving as an agent of change.
In the end, it boils down to how each of us should choose to react to the pressing issues in our educational system: issues that greatly affect our future and the rest of our lives. For a student like me, I think it is important for us to remember that we have social responsibilities as citizens, and roles that we are bound to play in the nearest future as nation builders and architects of positive change.
I’d like to leave you with a few questions about your personal future that only you can answer: Is the education you’re getting honing your utmost potential, or is it limiting you from exploring the possibilities you can offer to the world? Is your education making you active and productive in your society, or is it making you apathetic? Is your educational path the one you freely chose, or was it something imposed?
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