Finding needles-A A +A
Sunday, January 13, 2013
MY FATHER was already a young lawyer when he met my mother. She was in third year high school then.
World War II forced my mother to stop schooling. But after two children, my father encouraged her to go back to school. In time, she finished high school, college and then all the academic units leading to a master’s degree.
Both being practically the eldest among siblings, my father financially helped his younger brother through law school, eventually joining the Echaves family of lawyers.
The eldest of four girls, my mother in turn sent all her three sisters through high school and college. Both my parents spent for their education to eventually become teachers. Understandably, they idolized my father through the rest of their lives.
Completely orphaned by war, my parents depended on education to hurdle and survive life’s various challenges. Having succeeded, they equipped their siblings with the same tools for survival.
It wasn’t surprising that both my parents became teachers. When all their siblings became professionals, they offered the same opportunity to their helpers. Each one who came under our roof was offered the chance to go back to school and finish a college degree.
Of the dozen helpers they had in their lifetime, only one did finish. Now she herself followed the same plan and actually helped a nephew to finish mechanical engineering.
One niece is now a high school teacher, and another is in her senior year to become one, too.
Having been a teacher for a great part of my life, I myself subscribed to my parents’ formula. Each helper is given a chance to finish schooling all the way to a college degree.
Sadly, though, not all those given the chance totally embrace it. Perhaps because they have other needs, or have parents and siblings with more immediate and compelling needs. So we kept echoing Dionne Warwick’s “Didn’t we?” (“This time we almost made it, didn’t we?/This time we almost made the poem rhyme/This time we almost made that long hard climb/Didn’t we almost make it, this time?”)
Despite full tuition scholarship, including miscellaneous expenses, uniform, books, school supplies, transportation and un-deducted salaries, helpers have turned their backs on education.
Why? To run off to marry houseboys who finished only fourth grade, or to be live-in partners of married men with five children, or to have teenage pregnancies.
All these to the woe of their parents who eventually have to give shelter to the living-in couple or to babysit their grandchildren so their daughters can find jobs in the city.
But what jobs can they get? Little to nil. Even college graduates, according to Prof. Rene Ofreneo of the UP School of Labor and Industrial Relations, comprise 19.2 percent of the country’s total unemployed.
Also, when crunch time looms, the first casualties are those with lower educational levels. This is true even in the US and other advanced countries.
A college degree helps land a job. There, too, students can develop three key qualities needed in the workplace--critical thinking, initiative, and effective communication skills. Without these, finding jobs is like the needles in a haystack.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 14, 2013.