Gasling kasi sa rich na school educ sec Lumaki tuloy gastos http://opinion.inquirer.net/inquireropinion/columns/view/20100819-287588/Postscript-to-12-years Theres The Rub Postscript to 12 years By Conrado de Quiros Philippine Daily Inquirer First Posted 00:31:00 08/19/2010 WILL MAKING basic education 12 years instead of 10 do any good? No. That it will do more harm than good has already been pointed out by other commentators. A couple more years of sending kids to elementary and high school may merely be an inconvenience for the rich or middle class, but it will be a calamity for the poor. The arguments for it are fanciful. The notion that 12 years should prepare the kids for work should they decide to do that instead of going to college is out of this world. To begin with, that is not a choice, that is a necessity for most Filipinos who are poor. The 10 years of basic education are already home to a dire rate of dropouts. A great many kids drop out of their first four years of elementary school to help bring food to the familys table, such as by scavenging in garbage dumps. One tragic consequence of this, quite apart from that the kids are often lured to a life of crime, is that the dropouts get to be illiterate. Studies show that dropping out after two or three years of elementary school makes you forget what you learned in reading and riting and pushes you back to illiteracy. Only manual labor is hospitable to illiterates, and even then it helps to be able to read TNT. More than this, the problem with getting work in this country is not qualifications, it is work. Theres little of it. Its not as though were in America where blue-collar jobs are plentiful, at least before the recession, and you can agonize about whether to work after high school or go to college. While at that, blue-collar jobs appear to have remained plentiful there, its the white-collar ones that have gone. Some former CEOs are now delivering pizza. Where would you go if you decided to work after high school? College graduates themselves cant find jobs, and have to make do delivering pizza. How many pizza parlors and hamburger joints can accommodate the flood of graduates that college alone turns out every year? The only other option is work abroad. But there again it wont matter whether you have 10 or 12 years of basic education. Youve seen how our doctors turn to nurses abroad just to land jobs in hospitals. Filipino nurses are in demand in the UK, US and Canada not because they have more years of schooling than their counterparts from other countries but because they are more attentive and caringmaalaga, as someone told me in London. The proposal to extend basic education to 12 years misses the point entirely. I have several suggestions that I think will better address the problem. One is to make basic education truly universal by making it compulsory, complete with truant officers patrolling the streets and penalizing parents who do not send their kids to school. That requires of course immense subsidies: the problem for the poor is not tuition, it is books, various fees and allowances to give the kids. That can be solved by taxing the hell out of the richwhich is to say, justly, since they really do not pay what they owegetting back the Ali Baba treasure Marcos, GMA and everyone in-between looted from this countryand making education and not debt payments our number one priority as the Constitution demands. Debt payments can be thrown to the bottom of the pie. Two, is to bring the world into, and not lock it out of, education. The problem of our basic education is not quantity, it is quality. Theres no lack of sources of education today other than the classroom. Even TV is capable of it, even as it is capable also of dumbing a country. My daughters generation went through Sesame Street, and I personally lament its passing in these parts. Infinitely more than that, theres the PC, or the Internet in particular. And what I deem to be the most important development of all, education-wise, the e-reader. I myself suspect the e-reader will supplant printed books in 10 years, in the developed countries at least if not here. But we wont be far behind. These things have a way of happening faster than we think. To be obsessed with the classroom is to have tunnel vision. While at that, compare an elementary classroom in South Korea that has a 1to 1 ratio between PC and student and one in ours that has at best one for every classroom. That alone must depress you with the thought of the technological divide that must yawn further between our kids-turned-adults and theirs over the next 10 years. That cannot be solved by adding a couple of more years to education, that can be solved by adding more PCs to classrooms. That can be done in part not quite incidentally by Filipinos in the United States and elsewhere donating their oldwhich is to say year-old, thats how fast the changes take placePCs to their poorer cousins, or nephews and nieces, in this country. Three is to rediscover that the point of education is to educate, not to employ. Paradoxically, the reason our schools do not turn out graduates that get employed is that they set out to get them employed. That is a pathetic excuse for education. The reason for schools is to give a country a brain, or a breadth of vision, or a depth of imagination, or a fountainhead of creativity. Enough for its citizens to think out of the box, see alternatives, envision possibilities. Educating someone so he can have a crack at a job merely instills in him the kind of attitudes that defeat getting ahead in life. That is best illustrated by that joke, which is really not a joke at all, about the Filipino and Singaporean graduate. When two Filipino graduates meet, they ask each other: What job have you gotten? When two Singaporean graduates meet, they ask each other: What business have you opened? The second is educated. The first merely had 12 years of elementary and high school.