Teaching our kids and future generations

INTROSPECTIVE - Tony Katigbak - The Philippine Star

The government’s budget for the coming year amounts to P2.4 trillion. This is, by far, the highest in history and has, just recently, passed the third and final reading in the House of Representatives. According to the proposed breakdown of the budget, social services will receive the biggest share at roughly 37% of the total, followed by economic services, general public services, debt burden, and defense.

By agencies, the Department of Education is set to receive the highest budget at P365 billion, followed by the Departments of Public Works and Highways, National Defense, Interior and Local Government, Social Welfare and Development, Health, and so on. Personally, I wholeheartedly support the lion’s share of the budget going to the DepEd because I believe, as many of our countrymen do, that education is one of the most important things we can give our children to help them build a better future.

Indeed, addressing the problems the education sector faces is the perfect first step in finding a way to make the Philippines better and stronger. Education is such an important ingredient in life and it’s good to see that the government acknowledges this too and is looking for ways to support the educational system and those who are looking for ways to sharpen their skills and find sustainable employment.

I think that investing in the educational sector will truly pay off in spades in the future. There are so many stories that showcase just how much children want to learn and how far they are willing to go to get an education. And there are many stories too of the amazing teachers who are doing what they can to help. Like the winner of the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay award in Southeast Asia – the teacher who sacrifices his life and family to help children in the country achieve their educational dreams. This brave educator travels over five hours to get to school every day, fording two streams, climbing hills, and trekking through dangerous forests in order to teach children and help give them and their families better life through learning. How can we not be inspired to support these efforts?

And you see stories like this with the children too. We have all heard of kids walking for hours and hours each day just to be able to go to school. They make do with the clothes they have (some not even owning decent footwear), forego having lunches, borrow books, and study by candlelight just to be able to learn. They know that if they work hard enough and get good grades, they have a better chance of creating a better future for themselves and for their families. It’s truly inspirational to see such dedication and it’s this hard work that should be rewarded.

When it comes to what I think is important for the country to invest in, education will always be right on the top of the list. It is important because it can change lives in a way that almost nothing else can. Education not only provide children with a better future, but also ensure them of a better present as well. If they have school to contend with, they have hope, hope for a better future. And this hope is what will help keep them on the straight and narrow path.

We have so many out-of-school youth in the country that have just given up and feel they will never have a chance at changing their lives. This leads them to gangs and drugs and even crimes. Through better education, hopefully more kids will be off the streets.

I hope that this budget can help make a difference in the country’s educational programs in the year 2015 (and hopefully years ahead). I truly believe that Filipinos are some of the smartest and most talented people in the world and with the right nurturing we will be quite the force to be reckoned with in the future. After all, I’ve seen how other countries around the world value their education and their children and I can see it truly pays off. Not only does a strong public educational system offer children a chance for a better life, but it also gives their parents the freedom from the financial burden of private school education. This could easily help poor families in so many ways.

I know that there are still a lot of changes that need to be made in order for our public educational system to be at par with those around the world, and recognizing the importance of finding ways to improve it is certainly a good first step to creating change. After all, nothing good ever did come easy, but we all have to start somewhere or we’ll never change.

It’s been a relatively hard year for the Philippines in 2014 – what with the pork barrel and the national calamities and more and more corruption cases popping up – and I know I am not alone when I say I am looking forward to change.

Hopefully 2015 will be a good start.

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