“GROWTH that adds volume without improving productivity is FAT. Growth that diminishes productivity is CANCER.” – Peter F. Druker

Sadly but true, education remains a privilege in the Philippines. Many would have wanted to go to school or in such cases, continue, but because of the rising cost of education they can’t.

The dilemma of most Filipino students in search of a quality education can be likened to purchasing a commodity. The students’ two main considerations are quality and price. Browsing, comparing, and of course looking for bargains are part of the strategy they will play.

Every year, millions and millions of high school graduates go to “market.” They search for the best buy, the one that is economical but in good quality. The can-afford people would end up buying the best but expensive, while the others would have to settle for the remaining or worse pass the chance.

However, it is so ironic, that in a country with a 98 percent literacy rate, one of Asia’s highest, education has become a mere commodity. So unfortunate for bright deserving poor students, who would have to bargain for the quality of education they need.

Education should be the top priority of the Arroyo government. The budget for education should be increased and the government’s education programs should be restructured. While the military receives billions and billions of pesos for its preposterous modernization, the education sector should also be modernized and improved. In war, nobody wins. But, in education it’s a sure win.

In times like this, when the stock market is not performing well and the peso is weakening to 53 to a dollar and the foreign investors are being repelled by the Mindanao crisis, education is the best investment.

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For one thing, Thomasians need not question the quality of education here in UST, which is undoubtedly at par with the best universities in the world. But, tuition wise, I think Fr. Pinto still has to convince me more regarding the tuition increase.

However, in fairness, education here in UST is the best buy among Philippine universities.

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Preservation: Spare the historic Mehan Garden in Manila, believed to be the oldest existing botanical and zoological garden in the country. Deprivation: The students of the City College of Manila deserve a conducive and safe school building and campus. Which is which?

Reconciliation: Mayor Atienza should give up his plan to build a campus near Mehan Garden but he should not give up on his noble vision of providing the City College of Manila a safer and more conducive campus.

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Let’s be compassionate and humane: annihilate the Abu Sayaff. The innocent victims deserve compassion.

The latest Abu Sayaff siege has come to a cat-and-mice situation, a very sickening crisis. Their modus operandi is way beyond neither the teachings of Islam nor the basic principles of human law. Religion is no longer the issue. And up to now, the government, even the Muslim community remains clueless about their cause (if they have) or ideology. Understanding the issue and probing into their objective is like deciphering the “missing link.”

I guess, for a long-term plan, the government should channel its attention to Mindanao and provide strategic and sound economic and social programs that would kill the “fungus.”

For years now, since the 70s, Mindanao has been constantly marred by conflict involving ideologies or belief, religion, and even territorial disputes. Conflicts like these spread and complicate like “fungus,” if not treated early. In the case of our government, since the Marcos regime, they have been treating the situation in Mindanao not so seriously. Actually, what they did was just to scratch the “fungus” every time it itched. Scratching the affected part gives temporary solution, which gives sensation, but it also, resulted to complication and the uncontrollable spread of the untreated and maltreated “fungus.”

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Peace talks are a positive sign, but it has contributed nothing so far, only like a band-aid good for hiding the scar and for temporary solution.

The government should have sought the root of it and then performed the proper medication since the start.

We can’t amputate Mindanao from the “body” just because it is badly infected by a “fungus.” And, we also can’t treat it with a normal ointment. Better, seek the root of it and then heal it.

After all, after more than a decade of conflict and the same treatments from five presidents, the situation in Mindanao has outgrown itself. No more a mere “fungus.” What the government should do now, aside from their quest to annihilate the Abu Sayaff, is to conduct a diagnosis. It might be worse than cancer already.

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