I remember during my younger days I used to hear that it is important to learn the 3 Rs; Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic. My grandparents did not finish elementary education like the rest of the Filipinos in their 80’s but they acquired their 3Rs and they speak good English because of the presence of Americans at that time. They inherited large vast of land but their 3Rs wasn’t of any help because they did not acquire the right skills or education to manage their resources so those lands later we’re dispensed by their heirs.
That’s why in the Philippines it is the ultimate dream of every parent to send their children to college because that’s their passport to a better life. It is compulsory for children from 7 to 12 years to go to school which is the elementary level and there are public elementary schools as well as high schools. Although according to the Statistic in School year 2007-08, there were 12.93 million pupils against 931 thousand in private, the public school is not the ideal place for all because of deteriorating state of the public school buildings due to the lack of government funds to build more classrooms and provide a good salary for the public teachers. When calamities like typhoons, heavy floods, earthquake etc. these schools are affected. Just in my province where a dozen of typhoons visits every year I’m saddened to hear that school children sit and learn without a roof over their head. They hold classes under a tree or just inside the ruined classrooms because of no funding from the government.
That’s why most Filipinos prefer to send their children in private schools but that’s another issue because of the government’s lack of control to these private institutions it becomes so expensive because of tuition increases every year. This drives 1. 7 millions of Filipinos to seek greener pasture outside the country to be able to afford the send their children to college. Because that’s the only way their children can compete in the job market and they will not suffer the difficulties their parent had experienced.
As of 2008, there are 88,574,614 Filipinos and every year there around 350,00 new graduates every year. The Philippines cannot provide a job for the new graduates, Filipino nurses, doctors, caregivers, domestic helpers etc. became the no.1 export of the Philippines which in turn keeps the economy afloat.
At the moment in the Philippines, the 3Rs, the basic foundation of learning is I think is already obsolete.We need to expand a little bit more to acquire skills one doesn’t need to acquire a bachelor degree but to acquire skills in different trades like for example in the construction industry. In Denmark, you need to be educated as a carpenter before you can work. A skilled carpenter you learn how to read a plan, knowledge of materials etc., and when you have enough experience then you can be an entrepreneur.
In Denmark, the literacy is about 99% and it is compulsory for children from 6-16 to go to public school (primary). They have the option of Secondary education which is a prerequisite to Higher Education. Every citizen has a right to go a higher education free of charge and receive a corresponding stipendium whether you live in your parent house or not. But sometimes I feel sad when the state provides its citizen with free education but the majority chose to work instead than to pursue a degree. There is a labor union 3F slogan that talks about higher education for longer life because unskilled work makes you unhappy and worn out.
September 8 was proclaimed by UNESCO as the International Literacy Day which aims to remind us that to think about marginalized people who are still illiterate. Some 774 million adults lack minimum literacy skills; one in five adults is still not literate and two-thirds of them are women; 72.1 million children are out-of-school and many more attend irregularly or drop out.
Being literate or educated doesn’t put you in a higher position than the unfortunate ones but rather equip with wisdom and understanding of the problems of inequality. Like the UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon message that ” Literacy is not only about reading and writing- its about respect, opportunity, and development”.
Let us remember that even the simple foundation of education the 3 Rs is still important to 774 million people so let us empower them by helping by all means. Support the UNESCO program for eradicating illiteracy.
The Philippines won the second award for the Confucious Prize for Literacy went to the Agoo Municipal Literacy Coordination which their program can be read here. Congratulation.