Editorial: Not wasting a mighty heart

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Sunday, April 6, 2014


HARD work, prayers and a strong heart.

These are what three outstanding students of Badian town in southwestern Cebu will bring with them when they face college in June this year.

As reported by Oscar C. Pineda in Sun.Star Cebu last April 4, Malhiao Elementary School students Gail Aimyh Velos, Kathlene Gae Taypin, Naneth Taboadaand Jera-Ann Sasing received public acclaim for finding and turning over to authorities some
P50,000 in cash believed to be stolen loot left behind their school.

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For their honesty more than three years ago, the schoolgirls received distinctions and incentives, which include college scholarships from the Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

When Velos, Taypin and Taboada graduated last April 3, they added academic awards to their distinctions. (Sasing transferred to another school.)

Valedictorian Velos and fourth honor Taypin want to be police officers while Taboada, garnering seventh honor, aspires to be a nurse.

What’s next?

With excellent character references, academic distinctions and scholarships, the path to college should be clear for these girls.

However, as reported by Sun.Star Cebu, the girls face college with uncertainty. Their scholarships may not cover the course of their choice. The prospect of studying in a private college in Cebu City also creates apprehension in the girls’ parents, who earn a living as a government contractual employee, farmer and eatery cook.

The challenges confronting Velos, Taypin and Taboada are not unknown to many public school graduates who see the distance separating their high school and college diplomas as one complex obstacle course.

Even those who have sponsors shouldering the cost of tuition and other school fees still have to find funds to answer many other necessities that come with studying in urban centers: lodging, food, transportation, uniforms or clothing, books and school projects.

Financial worries are not the only challenges. Given the gap in standards between private and public education, provincial high school graduates, even those with academic honors, struggle to cope with college curricular demands, such as the emphasis on English proficiency and computer literacy.

More than charity

Hunger and desperation shadow many college scholars and working students who need more than financial aid at the start or close of a semester.

One scholar in a private college relied on dole-outs of noodles and sardines from teachers and classmates because money was not sent regularly from the province.

Another working student had to sneak at night into the temporary quarters of the construction site where her father worked because her scholarship left nothing for lodging.

The policy of universities not to allow students to take final exams if they have financial accountabilities has caused a high casualty rate among those aspiring for a college education but hobbled by limited resources.

Individuals, foundations and academic institutions must not fail to see and respond to the complete scenario of risks, opportunities and challenges facing young people. The importance our society places on the acquisition of college education must be matched with the necessary support that goes deeper than token acts of charity.

College scholars and working students are most vulnerable. It is not only because they are young and idealistic, dreaming of a more secure future for their families with their attainment of a college diploma and a well-paying job.

By aspiring to rise above the constraints imposed by the conditions they were born to, they take on impediments that remain invisible except to those who study intimately with ambition and desperation:

Struggling to focus on assignments and exams while making do with only a full meal or less a day;

Paying off school fees by working as part-time sex workers;

Giving in to opportunistic professors who exploit their lack of financial independence to extract all favors, from the sexual to the menial, such as running errands and acting as their children’s unpaid tutors.

Unable to submit assigned papers that require Internet research, hours of encoding and costly presentations, “problematic” students escape into absenteeism, academic delinquency, drinking, teenage pregnancy and other disorderly conduct that end in expulsion or dropping out from school.

In her valedictory address, Velos touched on the graduation theme, “Hindi natitinag ang pusong Pilipino (The Filipino is strong of heart),” reported Sun.Star Cebu.

Society must meet halfway the highest educational aspirations of the best and the brightest among our youths. To do otherwise would be to waste a mighty heart, to reduce to a tragedy this nation’s aspirations.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 07, 2014.

Opinion

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