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The State of Public Schools

In "What needs to be done" (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 29 May 2005), Juan Miguel Luz, an undersecretary of the Department of Education, analyzes the problems ailing public school education:

Among the underlying causes are poorly trained teachers, inadequate funding, overcrowded classrooms and the lack of textbooks and other instructional materials. In short, the usual suspects. But if this were always the case, why do some schools and students do well even if they face the same constraints?
His answer: there are other factors that influence the quality of education. In short, throwing money at the problem is not the only solution. There are other problems:
  • Corruption: If a bigger budget is allotted for public schools, how can we be sure that the money will go where it's supposed to go? See "At DepEd, A Cleanup at the Top but Corruption in Field Offices" by Yvonne Chua (PCIJ, 9-10 June 2003).
  • Lack of leadership: In "Congratulations and confessions" (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 3 April 2005), Edilberto de Jesus, a former education secretary, says that, "Improving the educational system requires leaders willing to take decisions that may initially appear unpopular." Why? The third problem:
  • Lack of political will: The recent resignation of the chair of the Commission on Higher Education highlights the don't-walk-the-talk policy currently in place. Leadership on the lower levels cannot exist without leadership at the highest level. See "Editorial: Higher-education lows" (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 15 May 2005).
In the final analysis, there really is just one solution: an effective leader who will not tolerate corruption and who will exercise the necessary political will to do "What needs to be done."

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