Embrace Thy Education

UP naming mahal… Pag-asa ka pa ba ng bayan?

As I read the news about the girl who died, I had two reactions: dismay and hope. The two are the very opposite, but I would not want to make the issue purely negative. Well, the news was really saddening. However, I believe that most of the people are now frustrated with UP’s system, and so with the government. Yes, so am I.

I am a graduate of UP too. For two years, I had been bracketed as C wherein I was obliged to pay 600 per unit. Even though I knew my tuition was still quite high, it really mattered. Though by my third year, I was bracketed as B. I appealed twice I think, but it did not change. In my four years of education, I saw how my parents worked hard, underwent a lot of loaning processes and the like.

In those four years, I saw how my surroundings evolved. Some already had laptops and touch screen phones, things that I really envied. I tried to have one as well, for having a computer wherein I could make my lesson plans with ease while at school without going to a computer shop was really convenient. I tried not to eat, but well, I let go of that dream after a few realizations that there were other things I needed to prioritize.

When I was a kid, I planned to be in the premiere university that was UP. My mom once told me, “Dapat makapasa ka sa UP kasi matalino ka at mura ang tuition.” But when I passed the exam and asked some people how much was the tuition, they told me that it went from 600 to 1000. I was really surprised.

Still, I did not let go of my dream.

Though, I could not forget one time in one class. Our professor asked, ‘who here were from public schools?’ Only one raised her hand.

‘Who here were from public science high schools?’ Around ten, including me.

‘From this group, kindly put down the hands of those who came from Philippine Science.’ Two of us remained. The other one was I think from Manila Science.

‘And, who came from private schools like Ateneo, Miriam…’ Surprisingly, more than half or approximately two thirds of the class raised their hands.

The professor smiled, and proceeded with our first lesson. I think I got her point.

What do you think is wrong?

Indeed, there is something questionable with UP’s system. It should be a school for ALL who qualified in the entrance exam. Therefore the tuition should be set as low as possible to accommodate those who could not afford a 1000, 600 or even a 300 per unit tuition.

But, is it only that?

I am a college of Education graduate. And sadly, most of who I know applied in high paying private schools. I could not blame them for the salaries of such schools were high; it could provide them somehow the lifestyle they wanted or at least save for future references. (Such is not only the case. Some are returning their service to the school where they came from.) I am also guilty with this. Though, I planned to transfer to a public school after I pass the board exam.

In Juan Miguel Luz’s Brigada Eskwela: Essays on Philippine Education, there were five disconnections stated. One of them was that teachers were subsidizing basic education through low pay. Public school teachers can testify to this. I remember one time during our career assessment, my English teacher asked what I wanted to be. I told her, ‘to be like you ma’am–to be a teacher.’ Sadly she replied, “Wag ka magteacher. Mababa ang sweldo.” then she released a painful laugh.

I could summarize my points in two quotations, both included in the book.

We cannot hope to invite the best and the brightest of our graduates to enter the teaching profession unless we do something to improve teacher pay.

The rich get better education; the rest just manage to survive.

I really do hope that I could give back to our country by being a public school teacher, one who is greatly concerned with the students; one who will tell them they can surpass all challenges.

One who will tell them that Philippines is worth serving for.

RIP Ms. Kristine Tejada. Indeed you made  not only the UP administration and the government but also all people concerned realize what is wrong.

Sources:

  • Luz, Juan Miguel. Brigada Eskwela: Essays on Philippine Education. Manila: Anvil Publishing, Inc., 2011. 31, 35. Print.

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