Essay: Why should the State implement mandatory and free education for everyone?

Answer: Education is one way of future-proofing yourself against unwanted events. When done right, it equips the person with good tools to survive outside school. It then redounds to the benefit of the family and then ultimately to the State. Therefore, implementing strict measures such as making it mandatory or imposing higher taxation rates to fund a totally-free education can be reasonable and effective.

If you rode a PUV which goes through the Makati Ave-LRT Buendia (Gil Puyat) route, chances are, you will come across several children jumping from one vehicle to another, asking for spare changes. They do sing and/or dance while doing so. If you have been through University Belt or several portions of Taft Avenue, you will see kids cleaning the front side of your vehicle in exchange of your spare coins. Some sidewalk vendors, such as those selling fishballs or street foods, employ the underage as well.

It is a very depressing sight. By doing so, you do not only expose these children to danger; you also steal a considerable amount of time from their youthful age – time which would have been better spent on learning new things to mold their growing minds.

“Ang kabataan ay ang pag-asa ng Bayan.” As a parent, if you want to future-proof your family, make sure to provide good education for your children. As the head of the State, if you want to future-proof the nation, make education MANDATORY and COMPLETELY FREE for everyone.

My proposals:

  1. Make elementary, secondary, and college education mandatory for everyone. And when I say mandatory, I mean force it and enforce sanctions to parents/guardians who will not allow their child to avail such right.
  2. Make such education completely free. And by that, I mean COMPLETELY FREE. This will prevent parents from giving excuses such as “I cannot pay for my child’s education even if the school does not cost any tuition at all.” I have been through public schools in my youth, and even though I did not pay tuition fee at all, I still have to pay money for my food, notebooks, and all other basic necessities. Those are expensive, and my opinion is that the State should provide that.
    • People might rebut and refer me to state universities and whatnot. If that is the case then explain why there are still people who are not able to finish their studies even in the presence of these universities. I stand my ground on the fact that while these institutions do not ask for fees, necessities will still have provided by the student himself. That defeats the concept of free education, really.
  3. Create more public schools and state universities, and distribute them among different regions in the Philippines. Eradicate excuses such as “Walang pamasahe papuntang x” or “Wala akong pera pangluwas ng Maynila para makapagaral doon sa free university.”.
  4. For these free educational institutions created by State:
    • Elementary: Make the curriculum more advanced. If some public schools are already teaching what-would-be–highschool-subjects to elementary students, then everyone should do it as well. This allows the student to build a strong foundation of knowledge and develop critical-thinking at such an early age.
    • Secondary: We already have K-12; all the more reason to teach students with topics as advanced as college disciplines. Focus more on stuff which they will need in real life: e.g. taxation, financial independence, investments. But do not leave the other necessities behind: e.g. algebra-geometry-trigonometry-calculus/biology-chemistry-physics. The common notion is that those might not be of use in real world, and indeed, it may be true. However, those subjects allow the child to develop/acquire critical-thinking and problem-solving abilities along the way.
    • College. By this time, people should have the critical-thinking abilities needed to study more advanced fields. For all intents and purposes, he can choose any fields that he wants to study. However, it is my belief that technical courses are the way to go if people want a good standard of living, and the State can enforce it by opening more slots for courses related to these disciplines (e.g. engineering, science, computer and technology, economics, finance, etc).

People might ask where can the State get the funds to finance these projects. It goes without saying that the government’s main source of revenue is taxation, and such funds are allocated by the Congress through the annual General Appropriations Act. Such act also requires that the highest proceeds should go to education as well. But realistically speaking, it does not work out to education’s benefit. Lack of strategic planning coupled with corruptions here and there tend to get in the way of the intended goal.

And so my proposal:

  1. Retain what we have right now: that the highest proceeds should still go to Education. However, employ a more strategical way to distribute these funds. And of course, remove the traditional/archaic way of doing things (which is unfortunately present in most of the government operations) and get more innovative in the implementation. I know this is vague, but my point is, just because it is there does not mean it is useful. Change what needs to be changed to progress.
  2. If #1 is not enough, increase the budget required for General Appropriations Act. Once done, it will increase the budget for education as well.
  3. If both of the above are not effective, increase taxation rate. People might lash out at me for this, and with a good reason. However, it is my belief that an increase in taxation is proper if it meets the ends desired. In some European countries, they have a very high taxation rate, but that is coupled with free education and healthcare; so much so that people do not complain about it. We can implement it here as well if need be.
    • I have to stress the fact that as a parent, you won’t mind paying higher taxes if you are confident that the State can provide your children with good education all the way. It is as if you are indirectly paying an educational plan for your child.

Of course, everything above is without prejudice to the school’s authority to filter out students. I think it is just and befitting for the school to handpick individuals and retain only those which pass their standards. For as long as such standards are reasonable, it is fine in my book. It may be harsh, but it forces the student to study well if he wants to have access to such free education.

With everything implemented above, anyone will not have an excuse as to why he is not able to obtain the educational requirements needed to land a decent-paying job. It will now depend on the student to exert an effort on his part to comply with the standards set forth by school. It will be difficult, especially if you are to enter a technical course; but this way, e can focus more on studying since he does not have to worry about anything else (e.g. where to get the fees). The State does it for him.

My point in this post is: right now, our education system is either: a) a ripoff, money-wise; or b) not as effective as it may seem. People have a lot of excuses to why they are not able to finish their studies. And even for graduates, some are not able to get a good-paying job. Please do not get me wrong. It is good to study something you are passionate about, but let us be realistic: that educational field that you are in right now might not be capable of giving you that much-needed dough to survive after school. Personally, I have experienced working in both administration/management and IT, and believe me when I say that generally, IT-related jobs give exponentially-higher salaries than the others. An entry-level position in normal administrative work can be about Php15,000 a month, while the positions of same level in IT/Engineering can go as high as Php25,000 a month. Also, add the fact that technology is being developed at a very fast rate that it creates a lot of demand for everyone. The steady increase in such field is unbelievable, and getting into it is one good way of future-proofing yourself against any economical disasters and job competitions.

My own sentiments, coupled with those bad feelings when I see out-of-school youth, prompted me to create this post. And so I stand my ground in saying that with proper regulations and implementations by the State, it safeguards the people a good future and forces them on the right track. It may run contrary to the liberal thinking that I normally advocate for; but a good authoritative-like measure to impose mandatory and free education might be what the people need to give them a headstart once they reach the age of majority and become the breadwinner of their family. Increased literacy rate can solve a lot of things.  If it is not working out quite fine, something needs to be changed.  And the State should pave way for such change to happen.

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