Thursday, August 03, 2006

The “Business” of Education

The present Secretary of Education Jesli Lapus comes forward as a dynamic manager out to solve the mismanagement problems of what he calls the “enterprise” of education (cf. “Enterprise in Crisis” in Philippine Daily Inquirer, page A14, July 17, 2006). In a recent comment on what he intends to do about the State of Education in the Philippines Secretary Lapus said, “management is everything.” (cf PDI, page A2, July 29, 2006) Expect then more management jargon as problems and needs of the education sector are addressed. From the management perspective, we may ask, how then is the rest of the country being managed? What is the management philosophy and strategy from Malacanang down to the smallest baranggay? Gloria just gave her State of the Nation last July 24, 2006. In her speech, little was said about the actual State of Education.

There are three things that are worth considering: facts, understanding facts and asking relevant questions.

First, there are a number of undeniable facts that stare us in the eye. So many teachers have chosen to become OFW’s working as domestic helpers in Europe, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, etc. The DepEd will do well to find out how many good teachers have become domestic helpers. The recruitment of Filipino teachers to schools in the US continues. A good number of teachers are already working as teachers in the US. A good number of medical doctors are taking up nursing. A good number of medical doctors are already working as nurses in Europe and the US. There is now a great demand for Nursing Schools, a fact that may lead to abuses as in the recent leakage in the national nursing exams. There is no more debating about the inadequacy in both infrastructure and personnel in Philippine Education. No, we don’t have enough classrooms. No, we don’t have adequately trained teachers as well.

Second, looking at the facts, they speak not only about the sorry state of education but more, the most unfavorable state of the nation. Our nation depends on OFW’s for its survival. The population is hemorrhaging. So many are in a hurry to land a job anywhere else but the Philippines. Secretary Lapus will ask for P 130 Billion allocation for education in 2007. In doing so, he will have to lobby for budgetary adjustments vis-a-vis the priority allocations for the Bureaucracy (Pork Barrels) and the Military(AFP and PNP) establishment. Sociologists have described the country before as in a “state of drift.’ A more serious and more recent description is, “the country is nearing collapse."

Third, looking at the facts and a not too favorable reading of the facts, relevant and urgent questions must be asked. Since, Secretary Lapus is a manager, he can begin by asking how will he manage either drift or near collapse in the education sector. But let us look at more basic questions. Do we know what the real problem is? Do we know then what the root cause or causes are? Do we really want to solve our problem/s? Are we taking the necessary steps in this direction? And finally, the ultimate question, for whom and for what is education in the Philippines? Do we really want to change the current state of affairs for the benefit of the majority? Or is everything anyway just pretense to preserve the interests and privileges of a minority who currently control political, economic and cultural power in the country?

Fr. Roberto P. Reyes
August 3, 2006


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