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abel d soto
abel soto YEAR AFTER year, I always read in the papers statistics regarding Philippine education, and they are not cheerful. For example, our teacher-student ratio is bad. The achievement tests in elementary and secondary levels indicate that both the average 6th grade and 4th year high school students have mastered only half of the contents of the basic subjects. And, compared to other countries in our area, the Philippines and Bangladesh spend the lowest for education. Also, we can't get good teachers at the rate their wages are determined—that's why a lot of good teachers leave the country.

Allow this to sink into your sensibilities: statistics point out that there are 2.3 million illiterates in this country. Poverty and malnutrition affect the state of our education, of course! Parents who are very poor cannot send their children to school even if the schooling is free. There are other expenses incurred in sending children to school even if tuition is free. They can't afford the school bags, paper, pencils, "baon," and other such expenses. Also, very often, poor parents need their children to help them at home or field them out to work.

When there is poverty, there is malnutrition, and this affects the brain: malnourished children simply can't do well in school. Tsk, tsk, tsk... The list can go endless when it comes to enumerating the problems that beset Philippine education today.

The ironic thing is, we need educated people to get rid of poverty. It is a vicious cycle: a cycle of unresolved problems. It is a problem that cries out for a solution. But it seems that the cry is not being heard. The solving process may take a long time, but whatever it is—it has to start now.

Still, there may yet be a glimmer of hope. In a country like the Philippines—a country that prides itself as the People Power Revolution capital of the world— there are a lot of intelligent and wise people around in almost every field of learning and endeavor. This is a notable fact that we cannot deny. But the sad irony still remains: the perennial problems persist, and we are not resolving these problems intelligently and hastily enough to elevate our status, even at least in terms of the quality of education that we have compared to that of our neighboring countries.

Thus this perennial overarching question that likewise still remains to be answered: Quo vadis, Philippine Education?

[About the author. Abel D. Soto took up his certificatory double major course in Creative Writing and Performing Arts at Centre for Arts Foundation, Inc. in Quezon City. He also finished the Managing the Arts Program at the Asian Institute of Management in Makati City. He is a resident of Bacolor, Pampanga.]

-Posted: 8:28 AM 6/18/09 | More of this author on eK!