The causes of the problem in our homeland's educational system are many, most significant being: lack of resources -less available money due to low funding and systemwide corruption, which in turn lead to lack of good books, ineffective teachers, poor facilities (not conducive to learning), inadequate school supplies to facilitate teaching, etc. And add the important fact that an empty stomach in school does not aid learning.
Why don't we have enough funding for public schools? There is no honest desire on the part of the government to provide more funding to improve the public school system (PSS). The PSS is not anymore a national priority from the time of the Marcos Dictatorship, whereby the decline and deterioration started. In addition, the Dictatorship needed the military and made sure the military gets more of the budget pie. This prioritization of the military has continued till today and will in the foreseeable future, with succeeding governments and politicians whose desire for selfish political/economic powers are insatiable and for pleasing foreign businesses (by suppressing labor and peasant workers).
“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
And corruption in the PSS continues unchecked and thus makes things worse. Marcos' successors -Aquino, Ramos, Estrada and now Arroyo- brought precipitous decline in the educational quality because of their desire to pay first the added debts they incurred/incur and odious foreign debts -which have compounded each subsequent year- as initially promised to the creditors by the naive and incompetent Cory Aquino in 1986, even if doing so deprives the impoverished populace of social programs, including education, despite her well publicized, lip-service on social concerns and medieval religiosity.
As to the present goals of the educational system: during the Dictatorship, Marcos followed the dictates and plans of the International Monetary Fund/World Bank/Asian Development Bank (IMF/WB/ADB) as to the direction of our PSS and educational system as a whole; that is, to provide cheap and trained labor to transnationals. Stressing only technical vocations, though practical since they put food on the table, will only lead to the "dumbing" of the new generations of Filipino minds; thus unable to comprehend their predicament (btw, even American youth is getting dumb) which in turn will lead to perpetuation of the present socio-economic and political predicaments.
But now, the IMF/WB educational plan itself is messed up by the fact that by joining the WTO in 1995, thanks to the then Fidel Ramos/GMA tandem, manufacturing transnationals have shut down and/or moved out of the country to go to China and other lower waged countries (thus perpetuate the downward spiral in world labor wages), such is the logic of business/capitalism of maximizing profits. Therefore we are faced with trained technicians and college graduates, regardless of whether deserving or not, with much less available jobs in their chosen professions or studies.
"The selfish spirit of commerce knows no country, and feels no passion or principle but that of gain" - Thomas Jefferson, 1809
Actually there are few professional/non-professional jobs to begin with even during pre-martial law times, given the absence of significant industrialization. Furthermore, inspite of the fact that ours is considered an agricultural economy with a greater part of the labor force in it, even graduates of agricultural schools do not have much job opportunities since there are only a few companies, e.g. San Miguel, which are into agribusiness. Large landowners, who mostly are not entrepreneurs, do not go into nor want to invest in agribusiness (nor in the more risky investments of industrialization) and are actually part of the sociological obstables to economic progress and true national development.
Nowadays, mere survival has become the paramount issue for most students, graduates and families -giving credence to Maslow's Hypothesis on the "hierachy of needs" (or simply common sense). Thus the schooled individual, "instructed" and not necessarily "educated", gets/takes a job (better chances if connected), regardless of whether he/she is thus underemployed, grabs any menial job abroad, swallowing all his pride at best and sacrificing his dignity at worst, and leaving the love ones. Not easily appreciated is the breakdown of the family which accounts significantly in the consequent deterioration of our society.
Why do the government and politicians support the export of OFWs? To pay for our odious foreign debt, to not plan for the common good, to have money to steal and to have a safety-relief valve that would delay/prevent a bloody revolution due to rising expectations, the government and politicians have thus encouraged and begged other countries to allow our primary export earner -the OFWs- to come to their countries (based on BSP statistics, foreign -direct plus portfolio investments pale in comparison to OFW remittances, so do we now need foreign investors who only destroy our patrimony for future generations, thanks to our leadership. Remember that portfolio investments are like cash, foreigners can take it out 24/7. But all these are another topic.)
Where poverty and impoverishment are the norm, gambling and alcoholic drinks seem to provide the unfortunate: the source of income they can not earn through productive and creative work; and the escape from realities for the moment. If I remember correctly, while I was at SMC's Corporate Planning Department, my bright economist-colleagues demonstrated this beer sales-financial hard times correlation.
As how to change the educational system, I say it is naivete at best, ignorance at worst to even hope for reform. As in other national or local issues in the homeland, the people who wield influence and power, the ruling elite: aristocrats, politicians, native and foreign businessmen and corporations, military, do not care. Only a revolution led by a nationalistic leadership can make needed fundamental changes, including the educational system.
Only a nationalist revolution, led by proven nationalists with the support of an informed, nationalistic coalition of the middle class and the impoverished can offer possibilities for such changes and without falling prey to insincere leadership that will rise out of the struggle. Whether the dwindling, educated middle class, which so far has only mimicked the ruling class that it aspires to be part of, can work with the impoverished is the big question.
These may all sound rhetorical but that is where a deeper and serious analysis will ultimately lead one to conclude. To not do so, to see only the trees and not the forest, to scratch the itch and not remove the cancer, to treat the symptoms and not the disease, is not to address and uproot the real causes of the people's predicament and thus work correctly for the common good.
To still believe and think that working through the present political-economic system to reform itself is to delude ourselves; as our 60 years of so-called independence have given us only a dwindling middle class and further impoverishment.
To work within the present political and economic system is like exercising freedom within a cage.
“Nations whose NATIONALISM is destroyed are subject to ruin.” - Colonel Muhammar Qaddafi, 1942-, Libyan Political and Military Leader
"We shall be better and braver and less helpless if we think that we ought to enquire, than we should have been if we indulged in the idle fancy that there was no knowing and no use in seeking to know what we do not know..." - SOCRATES
"Upang maitindig natin ang bantayog ng ating lipunan, kailangang radikal nating baguhin hindi lamang ang ating mga institusyon kundi maging ang ating pag-iisip at pamumuhay. Kailangan ang rebolusyon, hindi lamang sa panlabas, kundi lalo na sa panloob!" --- Apolinario Mabini La Revolucion Filipina (1898)
"Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime” - Aristotle, 335 BC
“They do not easily rise whose abilities are repressed by poverty at home.” - Decimus Juvenalis, 120 AD (CE)
“To be poor and independent is very nearly an impossibility.” - William Corbett, 1830