"What ever happened to quality education?"
The other day, I had a brief conversation with an old friend, Dr. Manuel “Bong” Muhi, who was appointed president of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines early this year.
While he shared his visions and goals anchored on quality education for a progressive PUP, something we had dreamed of since our activist days, he just could help but chuckle about how activist are behaving these days.
According to Bong (I hope he does not get offended if I still call him Bong), PUP-based activists, trying to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic, has petitioned university officials to grant students the benefit of mass promotion instead of attending school this semester.
Wow! So, what happened to the advocacy for quality education? Are the activists of today still thinking? Or are they merely echoing decades-old slogans which they haven’t the slightest idea of, and exploiting every situation to their advantage even if it defeats the very objective of their struggle?
There was a time when we were made to believe that every school has its own purpose of existence as dictated to them by Education Act of 1982, as supposedly recommended by Philippine Commission to Survey Philippine Education, which was said to be funded by the Ford Foundation. And based from the recommendation, PUP was to be a mass producer of clerical workers, largely in contrast to other schools which were tasked to produce technocrats and executives.
But PUP has gone long way since those days when its students were made to believe they could never make it past the clerical level. Today, PUP with its 70,000-strong student population, has made it to the top ten educational institutions producing the country’s top level executives. Some I believe, are now with the bureaucracy. Even the media industry, which used to be dominated by certain universities, is now teeming with PUP graduates.
And that has been made possible by the past university administration, headed then by another old friend, Dr. Emmanuel “Dekong” de Guzman, backed up ably then by Bong and the other members of his team.
And continuing that thrust, Bong has set up a 10-pillar agenda for the university aimed at empowering academic and administrative leaders, pattern “responsive and innovative curricula and instruction,” and create a productive environment through the provision of state-of-the-art facilities, as well as the enhancement of the university’s learning management system.
Bong says that "PUP will ensure inclusive, equitable, quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities through a re-engineered polytechnic education."
Ironically, activists appear to have lost their sincerity in their objectives. As I have said before, and I have to say it again, activists today, starting from their organization (and the movement itself), have lost their consistency. If there is only one thing they have remained consistent, it is their inconsistency.
Striving for a quality education but demanding for mass promotion even if they have yet to enroll? Fighting for a pretender to the Supreme Court top post who was even responsible for their much-hated Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement? Criticizing the government for trying to dump the Visiting Forces Agreement? Twisting the issue of press freedom in an effort to lawyer for the oligarchs and foreign-funded media outfits?
And the list goes on. In fact, they have not only lost their consistency, but also their credibility.
Here’s some good news.
China, through its ambassador to the Philippines, His Excellency Huang Xilian, has assured the country that once a COVID-19 vaccine is developed and put into use, China will give priority to providing it to the Philippines.
As China and the Philippines mark the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries, Huang said the year 2020 also witnessed the profound friendship between our two countries in our common battle against the COVID-19 pandemic that has swept the world.
“In the fight against the pandemic, China and the Philippines have forged closer partnership through anti-COVID-19 cooperation, setting a good example for international cooperation,” Huang said, adding that as “the resumption of work and production proceeds in an orderly manner, there will be more Chinese cooperative projects in the Philippines in the future, which will provide strong impetus to the local economic recovery and improvement of people's livelihood in the Philippines.”
At the same time, Huang assured us that China is continuing to synergize the Belt and Road Initiative with the Philippines’ “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program, and steadily carry out major cooperation projects in infrastructure construction to further consolidate and upgrade China-Philippines relations, which will result to the Philippines’ economy continuously rolling.
As regular epidemic prevention and control worldwide have become the new norm, Huang said China would actively explore with the Philippines to strengthen cooperation in e-commerce, 5G, big data, AI and cloud computing.
“By building a “Digital Silk Road” and a ‘Green Silk Road,’ we can not only promote the economic recovery on the basis of transformation and upgrading, but also achieve a high-quality sustainable development, benefiting our two peoples.
Of course, this pronouncement from the Chinese ambassador will be surely met with denunciation from pro-Western critics who will insist it is China’s obligation to us and to the rest of the world as the virus started there (But hey, we didn’t blame anyone or any country for the spread of H1N1, the Mers-Cov, the Spanish Flu, etc.). But as I have said before and I maintain it. At this point in time, we will be needing all the help that we can get.
Anyway, their criticism won’t give people work through joint projects and the Build, Build, Build, feed some us or even shield us from COVID-19. They just don’t matter.