Education in this country is an elitist enterprise that caters only to the thin stratum of the upper middle classes who can afford, but subjects the grassroots to a buwad smell of literacy enough for them to be able to write the names of politicians in elections. 

Davao Today

Talks about education and its prescription as the solution to the problem of poverty have gained currency among the poor folks in the communities in the cities and in the provinces.  Here is a typical run of a common conversation one hears in a family household:

            Samtang nagsugba si Esperanza og bulad sa  iyang abohan, miduol ni si Kumare Fely ug nagtingsi nga namuyag, “Kahumot  ba  ana, Mare Esper…gutomon man lang pud tag ahat ana oy!”

            “Ay, buwad-buwad lang ta, kay ang chorizo para man sa estudyante!  Haha.” 

            “Mayka Mare oi, kay naka-paeskwela kag kaleds.”

            “Oy, og wala pa nang iskolarsyep ni Kongresman, asa uroy ko kapaeskwela no!”

            “Tabangi ko Mare bi!  Maka-iskolarsyep pud unta nang akong Bany?”

            “Unsaong didto man ka nibotar sa pikas!  Kang Kongresman Nu-og ta, kay siya ra goy naay programang pa-eskwela.  Siya may nag-ingon nga ang edukasyon gyud maoy sulbad sa kawad-on.  Kung nibotar pa ka niya, kay siya man gyuy dumadaog, pwede tika tabangag hangyo.  Pero, nailhan man ka nga didto sa pikas.  Sus, dugay pa ra bang sunod eleksiyon sa pagka kongresman!  Maghulat pa tag tulo ba o upat ka tuig!”

            “Makalingkawas na gyud ka sa kapobrehon, Mare!”

             “Aw, og makalampos puhon. . .”


            While Esper was grilling a piece of dried fish on her hearth, her Kumare Fely came and cheerily remarked, “Wow, Mare Esper, that smells delicious!  I feel like wanting to eat right now!”    

            “O this buwad is good enough for me . . . it’s chorizo for my student.  Haha”

            “Good for you, Mare, you have a child who is now a college student.”

            “But if not for the Congressman’s scholarship grant, how could have I sent a child to college eh?” 

            “Please help me, Mare.  I wish my Bany could also enjoy a college scholarship?”

            “O but you voted for the opposing candidate last election!  We should support Congressman Nu-og because only he has a scholarship program.  He is the one who said that Education is the solution to the problem of poverty.  If only you voted for him I could have helped you, but everybody knows you were on the other side.  And, my gosh, the next election season is still far away!  We have to wait another three or four years!”

            “You can now extricate yourself from poverty, Mare!”

            “Hopefully, if he succeeds in his studies. . .”

Education is the solution to poverty.  That’s the gambit that politicians ram down the consciousness of the poor electorate.  And everybody believes in that politician-created myth.  And everybody scampers for the scholarship grant offered by the politicians.  But only so few can be given.  And for certain conditions, such as advertising oneself (the scholar) to have been a recipient of a scholarship grant and is very very thankful! to the congressman.

Well, it may be true to a few families, especially if the scholar is diligent and brilliant.  After four years, he/she can soon land on a job.  And he/she can draw away his/her family from squalor and misery.  If he/she is really smart, he/she can climb to high position in the company he/she works for and be highly paid.  His/Hers would be a veritable “success story.”

But how many would be like him?  How many would be a protagonist of such a story you frequently hear being told near the hearth?

Out of the millions of impoverished Filipinos who have long longed to be freed from the long overdue problem of poverty, how many?  How many have come close to being granted scholarships?  Or how many have become scholars and  succeeded in getting college education and are now enjoying sweet freedom from want and hunger and squalor and all?

Education as solution to poverty is a myth. . .!

It is another magic slogan of grand deception by the ruling elite!  This is another grandiloquent joke meant to hoodwink the masses of the people!

Education as a solution to poverty is supposed to emancipate the entire populace from poverty and eliminate this longstanding menace from society in general.  Not just an emancipatory instrument for a few privileged individuals or families through scholarship grants!

OMG!  What an insult!

The politicians, the policy makers and all the stakeholders of this “free enterprise” society are feeding on the credulity of the masses of our people.  They peddle and dangle this myth as obscurantist forage for the vast masses to become docile and submissive to their own perpetual subjection to poverty and misery.

If indeed they are sincere in their pronouncement that education is the solution to poverty, then why is education commercialized?  Why didn’t they long time ago abolish private education and establish free education from primary to college levels and make “educated people” of us all?

What an irony!  What a big irony that the very medicine prescribed for the cure of a disease is itself the worsening element of the disease.

NO!  Education in this country is an elitist enterprise that caters only to the thin stratum of the upper middle classes who can afford, but subjects the grassroots to a buwad smell of literacy enough for them to be able to write the names of politicians in elections.

Talk of scholarship!  Why doesn’t the government just pool the country’s financial resources and appropriate enough funds for the scholarship of every one?  Absolutely every one!  And not just ten or a hundred or a thousand, in one or two congressional districts or cities!

Here’s the rub.  If education is at all a solution to the problem of poverty, it is the brand of education that grows out of a social order that prescribes Free Education to every one in all levels.  An education that promotes a scientific and mass culture as a fabric of national consciousness.  An education that fosters nationalism as an ideal that spurs the country towards national industrialization.  An education that institutes social justice and equal freedom and privileges for the entire people’s wellbeing and prosperity.

Don J. Pagusara is a native of Mindanao, a multi-awarded author and a Palanca-awardee.

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