Thursday, January 2, 2014

Challenges to public education

Source
by Hermilinda J. Meniolas
Victor Bernal High School
Nabua, Camarines Sur

Public education in the Philippines is perennially riddled with problems. Some of these problems are caused by factors beyond our control, while others we can address with some political will and adequate planning. Most of these have been afflicting our education system for longer than we can even remember, that it is hard to imagine whether we will ever reach a solution to them. What is certain, however, is that we need to recognize that these problems exist, and relentlessly continue to seek for solutions.

One problem has to do with funds. In 2014, there is a national budget of P2.265-trillion for education. This is a huge sum, which, in theory, would be an immense amount of help for public schools across the country in need of textbooks, chairs, and buildings. Yet with allegations left and right of mismanaged funds in different government agencies, one may only hope and pray that the entirety of the budget is put to good use.

On a related note, there is the problem of the PDAF scholars, whose future hangs uncertain as the funds on which they depended were declared unconstitutional. Already, the CHED assured the scholars that they would be taken care of, naming several funds from which they can draw the needed money. Still, in 2014, this would likely remain an issue, especially if some scholars are forced to temporarily stop their schooling.

Still another problem are disasters. Last year, a number of disasters affected the schooling of students by wrecking schoolbuildings, or destroying school records, among others. Some of these include the floods brought about by typhoon Maring in August; the fighting between the government and the MNLF in Zamboanga in September; the earthquake in Central Visayas in October; and super typhoon Yolanda in November. Currently, our disaster-preparedness protocols fail against these incidents. This means that better preparation is in order to secure our schools from these disasters.

There is also the problem of school safety. Students, even in private schools, last year fell victim to crimes right within the school premises.  Even teachers have been reported to have been attacked. Many instances of bullying, likewise, are noted, prompting the question of whether our schools are truly safe places for students.

Lastly, there is the problem of decreasing proficiency of students in core subjects such as language, science, and mathematics. Evidenced by the results of the National Achievement Test (NAT), the proficiency level is alarming, especially if one considers that employment is getting more competitive as our population continues to grow.

As a teacher, I strongly encourage the public to keep themselves informed and try to find solutions to these problems. After all, the problems of the Philipine public education system are not only for educators, school administrators, and DepEd officials to ponder; they are for all of us to mull over. We must never forget that students of the public education system today will one day run our nation and make the crucial decisions. Therefore, if we become complacent today and ignore these pressing issues, we might as well throw the entire future of our country into the trash.
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