Solutions not problems
CTALK - Cito Beltran () - October 13, 2010 - 12:00am

The recent proposal of DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro to add two more years to basic education has split households. Even in a recent survey conducted at the UST, results show that students surveyed are split on the idea.

This clearly shows that at least half of our population values extensive education while the other half can’t get on the boat because they are clearly preoccupied with financial concerns and added expenses.

Unfortunately, Secretary Luistro has not had the luxury of being able to clearly explain the reason, the logic, and the game plan for the two-year add on, the way he could have if he were still with De La Salle University. Not that we who are opposed to the idea could actually be convinced otherwise, but that about sums up the situation.

We all want better quality education. We simply can’t agree on which comes first: the chicken or the egg?

Secretary Luistro deserves praise for wanting to give less privileged students who won’t go beyond High School the additional years so that even without a college degree they could get jobs or have a better chance at employment.

Unfortunately the idea is either a faith-based dream or Bro. Armin believes too much in the goodness of businessmen. Perhaps Secretary Luistro should try placing a hidden camera on a 2nd year college student and let the person apply for different jobs in and out of government and business.

Most employers want fresh meat, good looks, but offer low pay and demand experience plus knowhow in computers, marketing or language skills that one can only acquire by spending even more money on special courses outside schools and universities. How on earth can a fresh grad get experience under the present system?

Unless you're applying to be an undertaker, most companies require at least two years of college to be a messenger, cook or driver. How on earth can you get experience if you must first have a college degree just to sell coffee at Starbucks?

The sad fact is that most companies have now become selfish, self-serving, purely profit oriented establishments. Rare are the companies that consider it their civic duty to give students and the youth free training, summer jobs, or free on the job training.

Back in the early ’70s people like Fred Elizalde who owns Manila Broadcasting and Star City allowed and encouraged the children of his employees to have summer jobs and even get training in the very same area that their parents were working.

This allowed parents to keep an eye on their wayward kids such as myself; it helped kids understand what their parents did for a living and what kept them out of the house. We learned early in life about reporting on time and performing real tasks. Elizalde never believed in being protective or babying us.

Some of the assignments I was sent to as a 16-year old Press Photographer, was the grenade attack on Chavit Singson in ’72. The bank robbery at Sangley Point when it was still under US control, the conviction and judgment of Bingbong Crisologo, and the many skirmishes between pre-martial law cops versus Maoist activists.

I recently surveyed around a hundred students in an auditorium and I asked them who had ever worked a summer job or was employed in a fastfood joint. Only three kids responded to the question.

Even if Secretary Luistro got his wish, giving students in high school two more years of basic education won’t significantly change their chances because the students are not the problem, it’s the companies and the people in business.

Start a campaign for companies to be Big brothers and sisters to high school students. Cooperate with the Department of Labor and Department of Trade and Industry and the TESDA and CHED, so we can have a legitimate apprenticeship program where WE invest in people and not exploit and make money on them.

The truth is companies have exploited and profited from students and the youth.

Media establishments CHARGE a fee for internship while the companies have free labor and even free talents or audience! Hospitals CHARGE an internship fee to nursing students or graduates. Imagine, students actually have to pay a hospital so they can take out bed pans, replace linen, serve food or stand in for overworked and underpaid nursing staff.

Interns are paying to perform services that patients are paying for.

Yes, I agree with Secretary Luistro that we should give every advantage to our students, but if doctors downgrade themselves to nurses, if teachers opt to be nannies, there must be something seriously wrong outside the field of education and not in it!

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In the mean time, the good Secretary might want to turn his sight on something more urgent and actually can be done “outside the box” and by copying a successful business model.

We need a lot of schoolrooms. The DepEd simply can’t be expected to solve the problem so why not work together at building schools following the Gawad Kalinga program.

So many Filipinos care about the schools they went to and the schools in their communities. We love children and we know the frustration as a nation. So instead of spending money on what will take a very, very long time to change, lets roll up our sleeves, combine our talents, assets and skills and lets BUILD SCHOOLS.

There can be no better message of our care and concern. We are not just sending you to school; we’re building them for you! God bless.

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