Q: "What do you say to the people of the world who have typecast Filipinos as nannies?"
Her answer was as follows:
"I take no offence at being typecast as a nanny. But I am offended that educated people of the world have somehow denigrated the true sense and meaning of what a nanny is. Let me tell you what she is. She is someone who gives more than she takes. She is someone you trust to look after the very people most precious to you - your child, the elderly, yourself. She is the one who has made a living out of caring and loving other people. So to those who typecast Filipinos as nannies, thank you! It is a testament to the loving and caring culture of the Filipino people, and for that, I am forever proud, and grateful of my roots and culture."...Precious Lara Quigaman, Miss International 2005
(So what if it was rehearsed!) I hope this puts a stop to some of the resentful screeds from "nationalists" that appear from time to time, especially among the pundits of main stream media, deriding our emigrant workers as "toilet bowl cleaners of the world," or questioning the patriotism of doctors and other medical professionals who work abroad. Even when doctors work as nurses in other countries, it is still human beings whose lives they touch and heal.
We are often treated to much pious handwringing over the dwindling supply of trained workers and professionals such as doctors, nurses, teachers, (though not nannies, for some reason!) Yet every outbound overseas Filipino worker (OFW) is really one problem solved to some extent, because each is one Filipino family that will likely not be starving or impoverished. If they stay, they cannot be productive. If they leave, their kith and kin will thrive.
So what's the loss? It's seems to me that so-called "brain-drain" is really a good way to "export" our way out of the most immediate problem of individual families surviving.
But what scarcities in local manpower are to be mourned, are caused by an educational system monopolized by so called free public schools that aren't really "free" and aren't particularly close to being "schools", but mere aging vats. We will be budgeting up to 120 billion pesos for DepEd next year, and still many public schools are forced to charge "fees" to cover necessary expenses and "administrative gaps" in the official support package.
I believe we need to re-examine the bases for the almost automatic call for more spending on public education because it has been a massive historic failure at doing the one thing it must do: educate the kids!
Consider this Report of the Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) from 2003, which records the results in the third running of standardized tests on over 600,000 school age children from 50 countries and school systems.
The basic result is that out of all the countries in the world that participated in TIMSS, only two countries scored lower than the Philippines in Math: Morocco and Tunisia.
We did slightly better in Science, where we beat out four countries (wow): Botswanna, Saudi Arabia, Ghana and South Africa.
We did not improve over the results in 1999 and 1995 in this series of international tests coordinated by Boston College and the International Association of Educators. We have been consistent in our cellar dweller status. By the way, in 2003 6,000 Filipino students participated in the tests, which were administered here in the Philippines by the University of the Philippines NISMED.
I am not the first to point out these facts, although the administration understandably downplayed the 2003 TIMSS result, and the announced plan of Deped is to pull out of the next round of testing in 2007.
Yet we know that Filipinos living abroad have children who all excel in their schools and are the pride of their communities. The problem cannot be in our genes. It's got to be in what we allow our leaders and politicians to get away with.
There is no doubt that the public education system in the Philippines has been a massive historic failure, especially at the basic elementary and secondary education levels.
But it is not, in my humble opinion, because we lack for money allocated to the Deped. Rather, it is because we allocate about 94% of the budget for salaries to personnel (400,000 teachers, 100,000 bureaucrats, approximately). That leaves a measly 6% for capital investment and expenses; for the building of schools; buying of desks and instructional materials like textbooks and computers; and paying for electricity and water, both of which are said to be missing from many of the public schools.
So are we impoverished or just plain dumb?
Here is my analogy for this absurd situation in the public education-delivery system. Imagine you are running a package delivery service like Fedex or DHL. You go out and hire half a million truck drivers and you give them permanent lifetime contracts. But you do not pay for delivery trucks, airplanes, telephones, computers or any thing else that doesn't count votes in an election.
That is public education in the Philippines: a Fedex composed only of truck drivers.
In the world of private enterprise, which might be more palatably called "non-government businesses" such an absurdly organized delivery company as above, would never survive long enough to become a 120-billion peso a year money-losing proposition.
Now mind you, I've got nothing against spending every single centavo we can spare on education. I just don't want us spending it on government-run public education anymore. (And surely, it's time to free the public school teachers from indentured service to Comelec.)
I think it is time to reduce the role of government in education, maybe restrict the scope of its service to just elementary school, and allow private enterprise schools, including private religious schools to take on the challenge of educating a new generation of Filipinos for global competition.
But before you regurgitate the myth that private education is inherently more expensive than public education, I ask that you think again. And post a comment or two if you have some brilliant insight into how some future Filipina beauty finalist can be typecast as a doctor or nurse, poet or physicist, software engineer, writer, blogger, journalist or rocket scientist.
I just don't think public education is a very smart idea any more, if it squeezes out private enterprise and traps 88% of the youth in its aging vats.