Written and photographed
By Chris Lucas
“I think a wide spread scholarship program that rewards those under-privileged but deserving students and gives them an opportunity to actually study what they want to take their scholastic career as far as possible. That is something that we do not have now and that is something that we have to reinstitute. The only way to do that is for the government to take that on, to adopt the policy of widespread education at all levels,” said Vice Presidential candidate Senator Bong Bong Marcos.
He made the statement during the PANDESAL FORUM at the Kamuning Bakery Café last October 7, 2015. While the forum was a few months back, it was able to shed some light into the programs and intentions of the candidate who is now leading the Vice Presidential race.
The newly organized forum has hosted several Presidential and Vice presidential candidates including Senators Grace Poe, Chiz Escudero and Alan Peter Cayetano. The Kamuning Bakery Café has been known for its pugon style bread the past 76 years, hence the name: PANDESAL FORUM.
Panelists include: Tina Arceo-Dumlao-Business Features Editor of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Doctor Cynthia Vidad- Principal of the oldest public school in Quezon City- Quezon City High School and Ms. Gina Rosena – Principal of Flora Ylagan High School in Quezon City. Members of the media were also able to ask questions to Senator Bong Bong.
The question on bringing a more widespread scholarship program was asked by Principal Gina Rosena who proudly proclaimed that she was a ‘Marcos Scholar’. This was a program from the days of the late President Ferdinand Marcos. She asked, “Ako po ay isang produkto noong study plan ni former President Marcos. Ang tanong ko po , dahil ma e-elect kayo na Vice President, paano po natin maiipagpapatuloy ito upang mas marami po ang makikinabang na kagaya ko noon na walang kakayahan makapag-aral sa kung hindi dahil doon?”
The cause of poor education according to Bong Bong is a failure of the current adminitration’s policies, “Ang problema kasi, na wala na iyong polisiya ng pamahalaan na magkaroon ng malawak na scholarship plan kagaya ng nabanggit ninyo. Hanggang ngayon marami tayong nakikita, marami tayong na kilala na tinatawag na “Marcos Scholarship”, “Marcos Scholar”. Iyon ay dahil kailangan na magbago ang polisiya at saka pagka-prayoridad ng ating pamahalaan sa tungkol sa edukasyon. We must do much, much, better. I remember in the past, we talked about a 98% literacy rate in the Philippines. We talked about the highest literacy rate in Asia. All of the beginnings of the OFW was because our people, our workers were very well-trained. We do not have that kind of policy right now. We do not have and over a national policy where we are going to focus on education. And we are going to focus on certain types of education that are going to be most useful for our countrymen. I think that is something that we have to return to.”
Stopgap measures are not good enough according to Bong bong, “We do not have an educational policy per se for that matter, we only have these, mapapasulpot-sulpot na mga sasabihin, mag-tatayo tayo ng classroom, magkakaroon tayo ng K to 12, pero after the announcement, wala ng nangyari. Kaya’t kailangan nating talagang gawing totoo ang ating polisiya para sa edukasyon para maibalik natin. Lalo na ngayon, globalization na ang labanan, ang competition is in the global market. We have to bring our people to that same level. Never mind the, not only the OFW’s, but even the locals because the product of their work must be of equal quality or better than that of our foreign competition. And that is something that we are not addressing properly.”
Skilled workers through non diploma programs should also be given more emphasis added Bong Bong, “ Pati yung both diploma and non-diploma courses, both specific to our workers who are abroad and those who are staying here and as a general policy that our young people, their good quality of education cannot be, hindi lang natin iniiwan sa tertiary at hindi natin iniiwan lang sa mga non-diploma kung hindi mula sa umpisa, ay kailangan ay talagang iyan ang ating ginagawa na so that is something that we have not seen in our country for a long time. That’s something that we need if we are going to continue to progress, if we are going to be able to compete, and that is the key word that we have to be able to compete in the foreign labor market and in other markets abroad.”
K to 12
Dr. Cynthia Vidad brought up the hot topic of Kto 12: “I think you know very well that we are into the K to 12, and soon in 2016 we are having elections. If elected, how would you address the problems in K to 12, especially in the public sector?”
For Bong bong education is the most important service government should provide, “Education I think is where we have fallen behind. We have not been addressing the quality of the teaching, of course the number of school buildings, the quality of the supplies that we are providing our students. But also what seems to be lacking is a support system that we need to have in place for our teachers. At the heart of it, the educational system depends upon our teachers. The quality of our teachers is the quality of our students. In my view, education is the most important and the most valuable service that government should provide to our young people especially to the country. So in that specific area of the K to 12, sa palagay ko ay marami pa tayong kailangang pag-isipan ng mabuti kung paano ang pag-implementa ng K to 12.”
Backlog in Classrooms
Bong bong bared a disparity between the Department of Education estimate and the current need for classrooms to accomodate the higher student population, “The K to 12 implementation has become a big problem. Because sa ngayon, although we hear from the DepEd, that we have built all the necessary classrooms and wala na tayong pagkukulang. Ang katotohanan diyan is that we do not have enough. From 2010 to 2015, biglang lumaki ang ating student population at malaki ang pagkukulang natin pati sa classroom. Marami tayong na ririnig na mga issue tungkol nga sa mga school supplies, sa mga libro na the quality of the material is not what it should be. All of those things still need to be attended to. In terms of K to 12 again, not one classroom for K to 12 has yet been built. Not one. I cannot see how we are going to do full implementation. So the K to 12 perhaps is a good idea but unfortunately we have come across the same problem. Not only in education but in other aspects of this government where implementation falls way behind the promises and the pronouncements that have been made. Unfortunately this has been the same situation with the K to 12 implementation.”