Why slashing the budget for universities isn’t a good idea

December 5, 2010 § Leave a comment

(Or how the culture eats our brains)

by Jenn Besonia

Anyone who’s a college student must have seen lots of theirs schoolmates, or even they themselves, protest against the alleged budget cut for State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) recently. While Senator Drilon’s explanation is convincing enough that there’s actually an increase in the budget for SUCs, P-Noy’s statement is contradictory to what the senator said. According to PNoy in the news article Noynoy Makes Whirlwind Visit to Baguio for a Jollibee Burger, “We had to reduce the money meant for SUCs so we can augment [the budget for] basic education.”

Assuming that PNoy’s claim is true, do we really need to slash the budget for SUCs just to improve the basic education? Anyone recognizes the importance of basic education, but we must not forget that college is also important, especially here in this country where you almost need a degree to be a floor manager A.K.A. janitor.

That’s why we need to improve the basic education. So that like Americans, even a high school graduate can get a job.

That is an appealing idea. But unfortunately the secret to how this idea will work isn’t discovered yet. The now defunct Bridge Program is still remembered by a lot of people especially the students who were very lucky to have one more year to study elementary topics before entering high school, thus graduated late. For some reason, attempts to improve the basic education in the Philippines most of the time don’t go well.

But who wouldn’t want to get a job after finishing high school? No one. The real problem is this: who will hire a high school graduate? I just don’t know in other countries, but a lot of companies here prefer diploma to skill. When you apply for a job, the first thing they will check is your degree. The skill is just secondary.

Add to that the prevailing idea that after a person finishes high school, he must enter college. If he doesn’t go to college, people will automatically wonder “What’s wrong with this guy?”. Then they’ll ask him what his problem is that hinders him to go to college. If he truthfully answers that he just doesn’t want to do so, he’s now labeled as a lazy bastard and a rebel.

No one forgets too that there is a rampant discrimination among jobs here. Almost everyone wants to be “professional”. Sure, we don’t directly discriminate the people with blue-collar jobs. But have you heard anyone say “I want to be a firefighter!”? I have. But the people in the room who heard the kid just laughed at him and one sarcastically commented “You have a very high ambition!”. I just remembered I was that one. The culture ate my brain.

Imagine a world where there is no job discrimination. Perhaps I would have a hard time to decide what my career should be. “Accountant, writer, or laundress?” This is so hard. I’d choose what my heart desires; I’ll be a labandera!”

Preference of degree over skill, being obliged to go to college after high school, job discrimination. These things can’t be solved by merely slashing the budget for SUCs and increasing the fund for basic education. These things are product of our culture that triumphantly ate the brain of most Filipinos for decades. We need a massive shift of thinking here. How it will be done, no one knows yet. The culture doesn’t work; should we still buy it? Should we just let the culture eat our brains?

  • Jennylyn Besonia
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