by: Harvey S. Keh
The Manila Times
AS the new school year began last week, problems such as the lack of classrooms, teachers and textbooks continue to occur in our public schools. As much as the Department of Education (DepEd) led by Secretary Armin Luistro would want to solve these problems overnight, this simply cannot happen given the fact that our past leaders have neglected our education system for several decades now. The good thing about this new administration is that it is constantly seeking private organizations and companies to work with the DepEd in bringing better facilities and services to our students. The private sector knows fully well that if our education system continues its decline, businesses will be at the losing end given that there will be shortage of well-educated and competent manpower that can work for their companies. Our big companies should realize that by investing in education now, they are also investing in their own future given that improving our education system will allow our country to produce more skilled workers such as accountants, engineers and managers which companies constantly need.
Education solves poverty
Investing in education is also good for our government and the economy since if we are able to produce the best workers in our region, more foreign companies will want to establish their operations here thereby bringing additional dollars and jobs that will easily prop up the economy. More jobs would also mean better opportunities for every Filipino to be able to improve their quality of life. Take for example, an average call center worker can easily earn a monthly salary of P20,000.00 which would be more than enough to cover for the day to day expenses of a family of four. Right now, many call centers have started to complain that they are finding it hard to fill up the vacancies that they have given the lack of skilled and competent applicants that are currently in the job market. I have always said in my past talks that if our basic education system is good, our high school graduates need not anymore go to college just to be able to qualify to work at our call centers.
Filway and AHON bring books to schools
One company that has invested heavily in helping improve the quality of our public education system is Filway Marketing, Inc. which in 2006 set up the Acts of Hope for the Nation (AHON) Foundation. AHON helps promote literacy and reading among public elementary schools through the development of adequate and functional libraries. If one will visit our public schools, one would lament the fact that majority of the books in their libraries (if they have one) are usually very old books that can no longer be used by the students. Therefore, it is not suprising that many of our students graduate from Grade 6 with reading comprehension skills of a Grade 3 student. AHON works with different stakeholders in the community such as the parents association, the teachers club and the barangay to help renovate and improve the library. Each stakeholder does their own share to make the library a more conducive place for reading and learning. AHON then donates P350,000 to P600,000 worth of brand new reference books, encyclopedias, dictionaries and story books to the library. Last week, AHON formally opened four new public school libraries in Nueva Ecija to bring to 45 the total number of adopted libraries that the foundation has helped through the years. Aside from this, AHON also works with the Rizal Library of the Ateneo de Manila University to provide training to the librarians who are assigned to manage the libraries. This training will ensure that the libraries are used properly by the students and even their co-teachers.
Supporting Purisima and Juico
On another topic, I am very disturbed by the black propaganda that the allies of the former administration are doing to discredit good people in the current administration particularly Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and PCSO Chairman Margie Juico. I personally know Puri-sima given that he was one of our first supporters when we launched the Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership in 2008. Since then Purisima has been actively engaging us in efforts to curb graft and corruption in the revenue generating agencies such as the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs. The opposition is saying that Purisima should be investigated because he has been filing charges of tax evasion against people associated with the past administration particularly Ang Galing Pinoy party-list Rep. Mikey Arroyo. What is wrong with filing charges against those who committed violations of our law? If Arroyo did in fact not pay taxes then he should be penalized for that. It will be our judicial bodies who will decide if Arroyo is guilty or not and not Purisima. If Arroyo can show proof that he is indeed an honest tax payer then there is nothing that he should be afraid of.
I also don’t see anything wrong with the decision of PCSO to move their office from the old, run down Quezon Institute (QI) to the PICC. Clearly, structural engineers have already declared that the QI is no longer a safe place given that there is a strong possibility that it would collapse should a major earthquake occur. Given this scenario, why is former PCSO Chairman Manoling Morato, another known ally of the previous administration going to town telling everyone that Juico made a wrong decision to transfer? Would the public rather believe him or the structural engineers? Will he be willing to be held responsible for all the lives that would be lost should the worst case scenario happen? One reason that I see is that he is trying his best to take away the public’s attention from the spate of anomalies committed by the previous PCSO board which Morato was part of that the current PCSO board has uncovered.
Reports have shown that during his time at PCSO, Morato knew that there was rampant corruption that was happening from advertising and public relations placements which ran up to almost a billion pesos but he didn’t do anything about it. Is he perhaps also in cahoots with these perpetrators? The new PCSO board has now put an end to this malpractice and has even rescinded several anomalous contracts that the previous board has entered into. Apparently, Juico is dead serious in following our President’s call for righteous governance and this has stepped on several toes including that of Morato.
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