They always say that the public school system in the Philippines is nothing compared to private school education. In terms of facilities and quality of instruction, public schools rate low. But this is not always the case. I should know. I came from one.

Having spent 10 years of basic education in a public school, I pretty much have every memory of what it is like to study in cramped, humid classrooms minus all the amenities.

I remember that during our first day in high school, we had no chairs but we still held classes. For one week, we sat on makeshift chairs, from sacks to newspapers or anything we could find, until the new wooden chairs arrived. But a year after, the chairs had became so decrepit that we had to come to school early so we could get the best seats—those with a back support and with an intact tablet. Although the atmosphere in our classroom was far from conducive to learning, we were able to learn against the odds. We might not have the proper facilities, but our eagerness to learn prevailed.

Our teachers, though, would often complain of ridiculously low compensation, heavy or lack of teaching load,crowded classrooms, a stifling bureaucracy, corruption at various levels, and the lack of opportunities for career and personal growth. They inspired us nonetheless to excel and make a difference. My experience with them helped me become analytical, goal-oriented, and God-fearing.

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There have been proposals to privatize the public school system. They say that with the corruption and red tape, the Department of Education has proved itself incompetent in creating a progressive system of education. Maybe the department has numerous flaws, but we also have to consider that most students in public schools came from poor families, who often need to help their families in making a living. If only these students can concentrate on their studies, without worrying their family’s meals. Create educational opportunities for the people first, and the rest will follow.

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Oriental medicine sa UST

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Last week, I paid a visit to Mandaluyong High School, my alma mater, to claim a credential I failed to submit to the UST Registrar. Much has changed. New teachers, new buildings, and additional classrooms, but the air-conditioning unit of the computer room that had been constructed when we were graduating seniors was still unused. Maybe it is time that the machine be used. It could not only create a conducive atmosphere for learning, but also help in the maintenance of the computers.

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This year’s Ramon Magsaysay Award winner for Literature, Journalism, and Creative Communication Arts Eugenia Apostol is calling for Educational Revolution, an adopt-a-school program, which would empower public school teachers in shaping the values of young people. With visionaries like her, there is still hope for this country.

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