Successful Iloilo Education Summit

The recently concluded half-day Iloilo Education Summit that we in Kabataan Partylist-Panay organized in cooperation with the Alliance of Concerned Teachers-Panay last Thursday, May 26, at the Iloilo Provincial Capitol was a big success.

Over a hundred participants were given the opportunity to see, hear, and talk to the only youth representative in Congress today, Kabataan Partylist rep. Raymond “Mong” Palatino and get apprised of the extent of the crisis facing our educational system today.

In his presentation, Rep. Palatino cited the government policy of abandoning its responsibility to education as the primary cause for the deteriorating quality and increasing inaccessibility of Philippine education.

This sorry state of affairs has resulted in grave shortages for basic education, huge budget cuts for state universities and colleges, and unregulated profit-making by private schools. More than 282 colleges and universities nationwide – including 24 in Western Visayas – are hiking their tuition rates at an average of 15 percent.

It is no surprise therefore that according to CHED, only 1 out of 4 high school graduates proceed to college while 2 out of 5 college students drop out after their first year. A 2008 study by the UNESCO meanwhile observed that 73% of the Filipino youth are forced to drop out and that only 22% of college freshmen eventually graduate.

The Iloilo Education Summit provided the Ilonggo students, parents, and teachers a venue to register these concerns directly to our regional officials from the Commission on Higher Education and the Department of Education.

We give our thanks to Iloilo Governor Arturo Defensor for allowing us free use of office’s Board Room in the Provincial Capitol. We also give our thanks to Sangguniang Kabataan Iloilo Province Federation President Charmine Devicente and Iloilo City Federatino President Sheen Mabilog for gracing our summit with their presence.

The progressive cultural group Artista kag Manunulat nga Makibanuahanon (AMBON) moreover played education-related intermission numbers like Buklod’s “Nasa Atin Ang Panahon,” Gary Granada’s “Pamantasan ng Puso” and “Titser.”

Before the activity ended, the summit participants called on the Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino government to give higher state budget for education and institute more regulatory measures for school fees.

This is in line with some of the temporary relief measures proposed by Kabataan Partylist in Congress, namely House Bills 4286 and 3708 which seek for the regulation of tuition increases and the implementation of a 3-year moratorium on tuition hikes respectively.

Following the words of Renato Constantino, the Kabataan Partylist is pushing for a truly nationalist education in the long-term:

…the education of the Filipino must be a Filipino education. It must be based on the needs of the nation and the goals of the nation. The object is not merely to produce men and women who can read and write or who can add and subtract. The primary object is to produce a citizenry that appreciates and is conscious of its nationhood and has national goals for the betterment of the community…

At the same time, we are pushing for a scientific education that will propagate a scientific thinking and contribute to national industrialization, free exchange and sharing of academic studies, researches, revolutionizing communication, and distance learning. Most importantly, we believe that education is right for everyone and are advocating a mass-oriented education that shuns discrimination and promotes a democratic culture.

Specifically, this would mean that government’s education should equally 6 percent of the GDP, universal basic education, addressing of the grave shortages in the school system, strengthening the teaching history and culture, the development of alternative learning modes, as well as higher salaries, improved welfare and collective rights, and job security for our teachers.

The lively participation of the Ilonggo youth in this education summit reaffirms the adage that the youth is indeed the hope of the nation. The challenge now is for the youth to build on this initial victories and prepare for larger collective endeavors that will forward the people’s right to education. ■



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