Discrimination in Philippine education

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Ej Lopez

Ej Lopez

THE month of June marks the various dates of class openings of several schools in the country. Traditionally, elementary public schools are the ones that initiate or signal the start of the school year. There may be major changes in the calendar year introduced by some tertiary schools, done in the guise of keeping abreast with the educational program of the rest of ASEAN, but beyond that is the great concern and awareness of the Filipinos with regard to providing good education to their children. That is in keeping with the age-old adage that education will give them a better life. Such concern is an affirmation of the fact that Filipinos view education as the most effective mechanism to bail them out of the lethargy and suffering inherent in an uneducated society.

The type of our educational system emanated from American colonial rule and has centered on the democratic and liberal nature of the program. Since then, a variety of academic institutions have emerged unabated, giving rise to uncontrolled quality or standards of education in so many mediocre organizations today. As a result, the quality of education that is supposed to be the anchor of our society’s development also suffer in standards; for their establishment was primarily geared for profit’s sake and not to educate. People who have limited funds for quality education fall prey to these kinds of institutions, driven by the goal of earning a degree by any and all means possible.

The website country studies stated it right when it said that, “Philippine education institutions in the late 1980s varied in quality. Some universities were excellent; others were considered ‘diploma mills’ with low standards. Public elementary schools often promoted students regardless of achievement, and students, especially those in poor rural areas, had relatively low test scores”.

The findings of the study still hold true at present as illustrated by the disparity in the quality of education if you look into the regional aspects. The study further reveals the per region literacy rates as follows; “Western Mindanao Region, for example, had a literacy rate of 65 percent as compared with 90 percent for Central Luzon and 95 percent for Metro Manila. A survey of elementary-school graduates taken in the mid-1970s indicated that many of the respondents had failed to absorb much of the required course work and revealed major deficiencies in reading, mathematics, and language. Performance was poorest among respondents from Mindanao and only somewhat better for those from the Visayan Islands, whereas the best performance was in the Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog regions”.


So what could have been the reasons behind the lag?

Indirectly, the study revealed that the more “ruralized” you are, the more you are deprived of the quality learning and prompt information needed for quality education. This is not to discriminate the educational institutions in the far-flung areas of the country, but the data reveals the reality of it all as shown by several qualifying exams. including eligibility and other major professional licensure examinations. Of course, there will always be institutions that live up to quality standards despite the situational disadvantages, as exemplified by several universities in Mindanao like the Ateneo and Mindanao State Universities.

Empirical validation will reveal that the more economically progressive areas of the country are found in urban centers where quality education also often resides. This is the gap where the government and the private sector should fill, if only to help the rural areas become economically competitive. Even if investments should pour into the countryside, if this is not complemented by knowledge and skills honed by academic institutions in the locality, the impact would still fall below expectations relative to the country’s targeted growth path.

A study made by Jobstreet.com revealed that 77 percent of employers still prefer graduates coming from the top four schools of the country, namely, University of the Philippines (UP), Ateneo de Manila University, (ADEMU), University of Santo Tomas (UST) and De La Salle University (DLSU). This is a prerogative of the employing company where the primary interest is to hire highly informed and skilled individuals that not all agents of educational bodies can guarantee. While some may see this practice as discriminatory, it is still within the limits of the employers’ power to choose the kind or quality of personnel they want for their company.

Abad should quit
Gauging from the many accusations of corruption and his alleged involvement in the PDAF scam, I think Sec. Butch Abad has reached the point of no return and there is no other way for him to go but to quit his post, at least during the course of the investigation of the alleged scam. If he does, Sec. Butch Abad will be doing a great service to this administration by sparing it from further shame and embarrassment, considering the logic behind and the possibility of Abad’s involvement in this infamous scam.

Abad’s so-called position in government has put him closer to the so-called plinth of temptation. The influence of his position is enough to cast a cloud on the credibility of the investigation if he stays longer in office.

For comments email: doc.ejlopez@gmail.com with cc to: opinion@manilatimes.net.

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