Education as a Political Platform

Manila Bulletin, May 12, 2007 | Go to article overview

Education as a Political Platform


Byline: Florangel Rosario Braid

EDUCATION has always been a top priority in the platform and policy agenda of politicians. This, because Filipinos regard learning as the passport to the good life. In two days, we shall be electing national and local leaders. Will the latter be able to respond to the challenge of arresting the deteriorating quality of our educational system?

Appropriateness or relevance of our education has been the subject of considerable policy studies. We now recognize that it is no longer a matter of providing greater access to the learning system but also upgrading its quality. The challenge likewise includes being able to identify some of the gaps such as the benign neglect of non-formal education. This is now being rectified through upgrading of vocational and technical education and the system of ladderization . This allows the student entering college to learn enough skills so that he can enter the workforce after taking up two years of post-high school education. A large sector of the population (agricultural workers, laborers, indigenous people, women and out-of-school youth) is however still marginalized as it does not have access to the existing formal or nonformal system. As a voter, I would like to see specific programs on how to respond to the needs of this population which can easily consist of the majority of the voting population. This is why I would like to endorse Agham and A Teacher and other groups their main advocacy of which is the upgrading of the knowledge and skills of these marginalized groups. The nation's productivity and other long-term gains such as lessening out-migration of our manpower will depend on a clear doable vision and a strong political will.

AGHAM, a party-list group of scientists and educators, is made up of members who have identified the serious gaps in our socioeconomic-political system. These people now realize that to be able to effect change, they should have a voice in Congress. The head of AGHAM who is also the No. 1 nominee is Dr. Emil Javier, former UP president and Secretary of Science and Technology. A reformist philosophy has been expressed by Javier in a paper where he advocated the need a more effective and sustained non-formal education program for the majority of the population. What is needed for social mobilization and empowerment, he says, is direct involvement of community folk, local government and other agencies in the community in such important functions as program planning, design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of community programs. This participation can only be sustainable through a concerted effort in human resource development focused on knowledge and skills needed to sustain vibrant local communities and not for the export market.

I am sure that there are others vying for public office who understand the need to overhaul our learning system by returning to the local community as the primary source of knowledge and innovation. …

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