A shared goal of providing quality education for our youth

POINT OF VIEW - Zosimo M. Battad, Ph.D. - The Philippine Star

For Western institutions that have been around for centuries, rating high in global university rankings is a matter of course. For universities in countries that are relatively young and where formal education started late or only in the early 20th century, it’s a steep climb.

But it’s a worthwhile pursuit.

Being in the academia, the scientific method has been etched in our DNA: gathering data, coming up with hypotheses, testing them and drawing conclusions even if the original hypothesis ended up otherwise. The conclusion of a study is rarely the end because it is incumbent upon us to examine its limitations and come up with recommendations for further studies.

Less than a handful of Philippine universities figure in the global university rankings. Depending on one’s perspective, it can be a source of pride or concern. For institutions of higher learning, however, the rankings are a useful tool in determining the direction to take and adjustments to make. Universities in the Philippines have centuries to catch up on, as it was only during the American occupation in the early 20th century that education was made accessible to the public. And even then, it only reached a few because of limited government resources and the country’s challenging geography.

We in the University of the East (UE) pay attention to these rankings because they serve as a guide for improvement. Over the years, we have raised our standards and developed our methods in a bid to provide our students with better, quality education. Rankings among schools serve to determine starting points that help us identify concrete goals for development. Hence, we do not simply view university rankings as a competition among universities in the country but as a glimpse of our shared efforts in igniting the brilliance of our students amid the enormity of challenges.

Our teachers and professors are definitely the primary key in our quest to boost and strengthen education. No profession can be as profound as ours.

An artist molding a lump of clay or a sculptor chiseling a stone for his masterpiece is fascinating to watch. The end product is the sculpture: we walk around it in awe, and marvel at the lines and the shapes created by the maker’s skillful hands.

But shaping young minds is a radically different undertaking that is far more complicated than the metaphorical equivalent of planting seeds in the soil. In this day and age of digital or social media, we educators need to spark their interest without resorting to fanfare or outlandish methods. Then our next challenge is to nurture our students’ interests so that learning itself is the inspiration that becomes part of their lives.

In January, the UE College of Dentistry produced the topnotcher in the dentist licensure exams and emerged as the exams’ top performing school. Our congratulations to Anne Nicole A. Caeg, who scored 83.00. Not far behind is Gerard Romeo A. Millo, who scored 82.07 and placed fourth in the same exams. In the same month, the UE College of Fine Arts, Architecture and Design produced the topnotcher in the architect licensure exam, Sherilyn R. Baniago with an exam percentage of 85.50.

While we do not view rankings as a competition, it is important to acknowledge and celebrate accomplishments.

Student rankings are about encouraging achievement and inculcating excellence in the hearts and minds of our learners. Ultimately, it boils down to instilling a consistent, methodological and passionate pursuit of knowledge, skills and virtues as a way of life to benefit humanity.

To cite an example, during the Covid-19 pandemic, we witnessed a race among pharmaceutical companies to come up with the vaccine to fight the virus, which saw them reaching out, across oceans, to partner with each other. Research and development crossed borders until vaccines were developed. The race was not just against pharmaceutical companies and their brands, but truly against time to save mankind.

Higher learning builds on previous studies and is not limited to researches conducted only in this university but also in other academic institutions. It crosses borders and transcends time, as it seeks to reach the heights of acumen and agility.

Higher learning should not discriminate between private universities and state colleges and universities. Competition between these public and private educational centers must have no place in our pursuit to strengthen the country’s educational system. Our shared goal of providing quality education for our youth and human resource must gather our aligned efforts to benefit all without leaving anyone behind.

The sun rises in the east. While we cannot claim to have started the interest in learning among our students and graduates, it is our hope that we in UE have nurtured it enough for them to always seek the light.

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Zosimo M. Battad is the president of the University of the East, a private academic institution founded in 1946.

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