Editorial: Supply and demand

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014


MANY a time, when a government-run company fails to churn out profit regularly, the first thing government recommends is privatization. That is how it has been since the word privatization was bandied around by the bureaucrats, right after former President Ferdinand E. Marcos was booted out from Malacañang.

Thus, the power sector is being privatized, many government-owned corporations and government shares in corporations were sold off, and some bright boys in government is even pushing for the privatization of government hospitals.

What about public schools? Who knows. As it is, state universities are now being choked, funds are getting scarcer, it will not be a big surprise if some bigwig will come in and offer a huge investment. It seems that government is failing to make heads and tails of how to make a well-oiled public education system as it continues to face what is has been facing since generations ago: lack of teachers, lack of classrooms, lack of textbooks, lack of desks, lack of chairs, lack of toilets, lack of everything.

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Last week, Department of Education 11 spokesman Jenielito Atillo said there is actually no lack of classrooms in the region. There is but a crowding to preferred schools.

“Daghan kaayo ta eskwelahan sa Davao City and even sa Davao region nga nagkulang sa mga bata because there are some of our parents nga bisan ang ilang skwelahan naa lang sa ilang tugkaran, adto gyud sa layo nila paeskwelahon (There are schools with more classrooms than children because some of parents prefer to send their children to schools in downtown area),” Atillo told Sun.Star Davao.

At the bottom line is something basic: The law of supply and demand. Where there is no demand, supply should be limited, where demand is overflowing, supply should be more.

Of course, parents want the best for their children, even if they can barely afford to send them to school. Thus, they would make a beeline to schools that are known to produce excellent graduates or those schools that are consistently in the news for this and that achievement. Why force them to enroll their kids where they do not want when the school nearby cannot even boast of equal competence?

Stepping back to make heads and tails of why corresponding infrastructure and facilities cannot be allocated for the corresponding number of students instead of building this and that where there are but this and that number will bring out one word: politics.

It’s bad politics to put up more classrooms at the Davao City National High School when it is already full of classrooms. Never mind if it is also overflowing with students. But there will be a throng of happy barangay officials and councilors and education officials and residents when a new classroom is inaugurated in this and that mababang paaralan in this and that hinterland barangay. Picture-picture!

We’re pretty sure that inventory of classrooms in the region includes the campus of Dalag-Ayo elementary school that has long been padlocked by its sitio leader. That’s five of the classrooms that are unused, that are without students. How many more? The Deped is not saying, maybe because no one is really assessing the real needs of each individual school, outside the constant “pamarayeg” of this and that official.

It’s about time that public education is addressed in the way that private companies address their concerns – based on actual growth and targets and actual assets and liabilities and not just on general census and good press.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on June 03, 2014.

Opinion

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