Today's Punto
Today's Punto
To kingdom come
By Bong Lacson

Jun 06, 2017

STUCK IN a rut. Even more apt, caught in a time warp. This piece I wrote for the long defunct weekly Pampanga News June 9-14, 2006 issue in its original title.

So, what change has come?

DEPRESSING. Really depressing was all the news that came out of the idiot box Monday night June 5, the day schoolyear 2006-2007 opened.

There were the protest rallies of students and teachers against their own school principals in Quezon province and Taguig, for a lot of perceived misdemeanors and alleged malfeasances ranging from unauthorized collection of fees and the forced patronization of the school canteen to missing funds. That lingering shot of two schoolgirls carrying a basket of snacks to their room for sale to their classmates gives a new low to the commercialization of education in this country.

It started with teachers doubling as Avon ladies, life-plan agents and Tupperware sales reps, then onto tapa, tocino and longganisa. Now this, tetra-packed juice and chichiria. By next year, it could be buchi and bananacue. Understand that Madam got a family to feed and school too.

In Sulu, ABS-CBN reported that at least two schools in Patikul town had not opened. There were no student enrollees, the residents having remained in some other towns they fled to two years ago to avoid getting into the murderous crossfire of the military and the Abu Sayyaf. In another school, the principal lamented the dearth of Arabic teachers.

In Bontoc, kids had to walk through a winding hilly trail for two hours to get to a school with no lights and toilet. And that is even the safe part. The trail turns to an impassable quagmire in the rainy season.

What hit me in the gut though was the crime story of the day. Two minors caught in a Paranaque police dragnet on known and suspected pickpockets, hold-uppers and snatchers that preyed on students. They robbed, they said, because they wanted to have money to resume schooling. One getting to Grade Four this year.

Oh God!

Flash to National Capital Region Police Director Vidal Querol warning “huwag kayong manalbahe sa hanay ng mga estudyante” and unleashing a force of 5,000 policemen in Metro Manila to secure them. The students, not those in conflict with the law.

Oh Good God!

And then comes the piece d’ resistance – the annual fare of dilapidated classrooms where there are classrooms, the “open-air universities” where there are no classrooms, the dilapidated desks and the lack of desks, the dilapidated books and the lack of books.

Truly, the dilapidated state of education in this country. That gets further dilapidation with the fielding of teachers in subjects they have not specialized in, as – again as reported by ABSCBN –in a librarian and a home economics madam teaching mathematics.

Depressing. What solutions have this government offered to remedy this situation? The presidential tempered 100:1 classroom ratio that dissolved in an instant the over 6,000 needed rooms for this year and effectively solved the shortage? That one is truly worthy of a David Copperfield.

Oh Dear God!

This administration has truly become magical. Remember the promise that if only we would be united and hold onto her, she would take us to the Enchanted Kingdom of the First World?

No, I would not want to be a second rate, trying hard copycat of Conrado de Quiros here. So, I would just say, at the rate things are going here – in education most especially – it is not to the Enchanted Kingdom that we are being delivered to. It is to Kingdom Come. And there is no fantasy here.

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