Saturday, 28 February 2015

Education at the hands of the Taipans: promoting knowledge or squeezing for profits?

Education at the hands of the Taipans: 
promoting knowledge or squeezing for profits?

It seems that Everyone is talking, be it positive or negative, about how the corporate world is now engaging in Education and its subsequent commercialisation of it. 

Using a variety of terms such as corporate social responsibility, improvement of facilities, total student and faculty care as its pretexts, the engagement of today's corporate taipans, be it those of Henry Sy, Lucio Tan, Alfonso Yuchengco, Manny Pangilinan, and others involved, this time in the field of education had almost radically changed the supposed educative aims and geared towards the demands of the world market; different from those whom treating education as means to enlighten and geared towards the needs of the people. 

However, in seeing such well known personalities in the corporate world also dealing in education, then these are one of the fruits coming from a system that has given up supporting people's welfare such as education, of becoming a privilege rather than right, of letting it alone in pursuit of "self-sufficiency" particularly those of State Colleges and Universities, like any other institutions in the name of globalisation and intense competition; hence, it is also the reason on why tuition and other fees significantly increase skyrocket, of rising dropout rates from the youths of working -class backgrounds, of silencing those against repression and fascism on campus, to the extent of trampling the rights of the students in the name of order and stability. 

And perhaps it makes the present educational system that really caters to vested interests serves not to enlighten, transmit knowledge and culture, nor cultivate critical thinking (Education: from the word 'E-ducere', 'to lead out of the condition of ignorance and lack of culture'), but rather to perpetuate itself as a corporate and guarded administration, promoting a form of schooling that is dogmatic and inefficient. 

Here are examples of what is happening in a colonial-oriented, commercialised, repressive educational system:

1.) students tend to be depoliticise by authorities in favor of the interest of the institution, infringing academic freedom and progressive instruction (focusing on "academics" yet unaware on socio-economic issues).
2.) yearly tuition and other fee increases are being justified no matter it disregards working-class students using current inflation rates (in case of the University of the East with its current 5% increase) or for unknown reasons (in case of the National Teachers College with its 6% increase).
3.) commercialisation of assets primarily used in education in the name of "self sufficiency" (in case of the University of the Philippines with its TechnoHub and UP Town Center with Ayala). 
4.) courses that are primarily catered to the demands of the world market, rather than for domestic-based national development.

These examples are being taken as part of policies tailored by corporate taipans, as well as conservative-minded administrators in the education sector. Of repressive policies guised as "student care" over those of academic freedom, rote learning over progressive instruction, repetition of old teaching methods over creating new ones, apathetic rather than sympathetic to socio-economic issues,  profit over service in its orientation. 

And those whom in favour of such policies, besides disregarding the nature of taipans "becoming" educators as exploiters, as well as insisting "private schools" as just "profit oriented" (contrary to its supposed nature as non-stock, non-profit), may assert the importance of academic excellence, discipline, effort, sanction, and reward; yet these importances requires freedom and creativity, as well as justice and fairness in making well rounded citizens of the country as insisted by those against it.

Furthermore, the profit-orientedness of today's education institutions does not guarantee improvements regardless of its objectives. Year-ender Consultations involving administrators, faculty, employees, and students often question the importance of yearly increases yet seeing the actual problem regarding facilities and the rising dropouts every semester; and even resulted to protest actions if administrators stubbornly pursue their attempts that endanger student's right for education, resulting to a series of threats over those being consistently against it (in case of the students from the University of the East and the National Teachers College several days ago). If not mistaken, the Dominican-controlled University of Santo Tomas also pursued their Tuition Fee Increases amidst opposition from students, even telling that the Consultation was made for formalities, and the increase be still pursued with or without the meeting required in accordance to the Memorandum order said by the Commission on Higher Education. The latter, assuming to have regulatory powers, do bark but doesn't bite hard. 
Anyways, come to think of this, if today's taipans, via its administrators in charge did afford to describe their control over non-profit institutions like schools as their "social responsibility", then how come it turned out to be a lucrative profiteering scheme like any other institution being controlled by theirs? As well as imposing policies that some of which contrary to their vision and mission statements? The memorandum orders made by the Commission on Higher Education, as well as the controversial Education Act of 1982 do bark but doesn't bite hard in confronting such serious problems that brought strikes and protest actions. Again, today's Education has become a commodity that students can buy, and income, rather than knowledge has become a factor in continuing it. Those who can afford may afford to become professionals with prestigious titles, while those who can't are being forced to become workers with jobs catered to these people in accordance to the demands of the market. But for reality's sake, it may also not guarantee their tenure, benefits, as well as their daily bread. 

Perhaps, regardless of the justification coming from these taipans, administrators or its apologetics, it may likely not to stop the rage, but aggravate further calls coming from the concerned students as well as parents, since they are directly affected by yearly increases, as well as policies that endangers academic freedom as well as their right to educate. 

And no wonder why there are still protests in Mendiola led by these same  students that can also happen anytime.