Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Education: Best Weapon Against Poverty

Yesterday, my husband and I attended Teaching Night.  Every third Tuesday of the month, leaders of Couples for Christ flock to Meralco Theater (the previous venue was the gymnasium of Xavier School in San Juan) for the Mission Core Group (MCG) Teaching Night.  The MCG is composed of senior leaders of Couples for Christ.  My husband and I have been attending it for the past four years.

For the numerous times that we have attended Teaching Night, yesterday's topic is one of those which tugged at my heartstrings.  The guest speaker for the night was Sec. Armin Luistro, FSC of the Department of Education.  He rattled off with statistics which underscored the sad state of the Philippine's public education system.  The Philippine public educational system just like the ones in other countries is free and available to all citizens.  Despite it being accessible to everyone, Sec. Luistro lamented that not all pupils who enrolled in grade 1 is sure to graduate.  A big percentage or 33% of the total grade 1 population will join the ranks of dropouts. There are many factors why these children drop out of school and foremost of all is economic, they are just too poor to afford school supplies, jeepney fare and what more personal things like a toothbrush.  

The good secretary mentioned that quite a number of dropouts stopped going to school altogether because of a simple toothache, a toothache that could mean a two-week absence from school.  By the time the toothache is gone,  should the child elect to go back to school, he will have difficulty in catching up with his classmates.  Most of the time, the child leaves the school for good and is unlikely to return. A study by the National Education Testing Center shows that the earlier the child drops out, the greater the likelihood of his reverting to illiteracy.  

I am a strong advocate for education being the most potent weapon against poverty and I have written articles in the past about the importance of education: Ancop's Child Sponsorship Program, Bravo Khan Academy!, and My Bucket List Part 2.  I am fortunate and happy that I am a member of Couples for Christ and has been a volunteer for Gawad Kalinga and Ancop for quite a time thus giving me a firsthand account of life in the slums.  Building them houses in different colors of the rainbow, no matter how noble the intentions are, sadly does not alleviate them from their present predicament.  The root of the problem of poverty like inadequate/poor quality of education and/or no education at all, should be the one addressed instead of palliative measures (I need not elaborate on this so as not to offend others who have a different point of view as that of mine).

Before ending his talk, Sec. Luistro pleaded for prayers for him who is at the helm of the Department of Education and for his staff who collectively have the gargantuan task of preparing the young for a bright future through education.  Aside from prayers, he also hinted that there are several ways of helping.  To know the kind of help that a public school needs, one just have to go to a nearby public school and talk to the principal.  Different schools have different needs.

Before the schoolyear 2011-2012 opens next month, let us think of ways to make learning more effective.  Let us open our eyes, ears and most specially, our hearts.

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