OFFICE of Admissions data show there has been a decline in the number of students who pass the entrance test into the University, and in the number of students who actually enroll. According to an article elsewhere in this paper, the admissions list has been cut to almost half, from around 20 thousands to an incomparable 11 in recent years.

That could mean only two things—either the admission process has become really stringent, as the office claims, or the level of education among younger batches has dropped dramatically. The possibility of the latter is not far-fetched. My personal gauge: language. My theory is that language is the key to education.

As toddlers, we were not taught words and phrases first for no reason. But being in this peculiar position in the campus paper has exposed me to countless instances where I see that the language of my younger fellows is way below par. Either that or I haven’t encountered the better lot.

The sad thing is, at times the manuscripts that arrive are not those of students, but teachers, whom one would naturally expect to at least be level with the average student when it comes to language.

I have no claim to a perfect grammar, much less, understanding. Like I said in two forums I was invited to recently, there really is a problem when we deal with a language not native to our tongue. But what happened to 10 or so years of elementary and secondary education?

Everything stands on one’s linguistic ability, for how can one properly absorb a reading material, for example, or questions and explanations thrown at him by professors?

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Forgive me, if this is arrogance. I deny that it is. Fortunately, I am not the only one complaining. An informative chat with one writer recently brought to my attention that the formation of a standard general education curriculum in the University is, among other purposes, to address this alarming disability. The professors behind this movement were in turn spurred by feedback from employers that UST graduates lack eloquence, which is, no matter how you look at it, very embarrassing, considering these are college degree holders who are supposed to have studied for at least 14 years.

So now, which is it: has the University become strict in admitting only the better-qualified applicants, or has the level of education dropped so low that a larger number of students are not able to pass the University’s entrance test, which consists mostly of basic language, math, and IQ tests? If it is the first, good for us. It’s never quantity anyway, but quality, that matters. If the second, the general education department should brace itself for the added burden of repeating matters the students are supposed to have mastered in the earlier stages of their education.

If indeed the University has been cracking the whip in its admissions process, I say “more, more.”

***

I have always admired professors who correct students’ grammar during recitation. Strictness, as long as it’s proper and correct, does more good than harm. My parents were with the former DECS, and my mother—that woman—no son of hers was allowed even to mispronounce words. God rest her soul.

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