Striving for education
VERBAL VARIETY - Annie Fe Perez (The Freeman) - May 25, 2019 - 12:00am

It was my third time to visit her and her family in the town of Buenavista in Bohol. Her name is Jhesa Balbastro, but she is more known as "dahon girl" after her photo taken by her teacher back in 2016 when she secretly used a leaf for paper during a pop quiz made rounds in social media. She became the symbol of a determined student who wanted to finish despite poverty. When asked why she didn't ask for paper from her seatmates or the teacher, she simply said she was too shy to ask. Poor little girl, while others are wasting resources, here is a girl who doesn't have anything to write on.

When I saw her this week her face lit up. Probably because I was her instrument to the rest of the world when they were bashed by individuals who took her act wrongly. It was I who explained her predicament at that time and the years that followed. She is still the sweet and innocent child who proudly showed me her perfect test scores. Deep inside, I wanted to weep. This child deserves so much more but she is limited by financial constraints.

Jhesa is not alone. We hear many stories of children like these, such as Daniel Cabrera who was seen studying under the streetlight of a fast food chain. They all want to get good grades and hopefully make it in life. The sad reality is the state cannot provide all their needs.

We just elected our new set of leaders but it is unclear if they will prioritize education. This brigada week I encountered schools needing repairs, makeshift classrooms, and teachers who use their own money for supplies for students. It is sad that we don’t have a high regard for education when it is the key to a more progressive citizenry. When we look at other nations, they give so much importance to the basic education system. We are a far cry from where they are right now.

I can't even judge the K-12 program because I can see more flaws than beauty. It is half-baked and ineffective. The streams and tracks created only sound good but it hasn’t been taught well due to the lack of expertise of the teachers. They resort to hiring people in the industry of the choice, which I think is a better way of teaching. There is so much to improve with so little time.

The fate of our education system now lies with the administration and the legislators. I only hope they can make changes so no child would have to write on a leaf or study under a streetlight. It's wishful thinking, I know, but who knows?

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