For many years, the rising cost of education has been a major concern in the Philippines. It ruins the dreams of countless families to have professional sons and daughters.
Compared to housing and commodity prices, tuition fee increases are higher than we can afford. And technical and vocational skills trainings (mostly offered by private companies) are very expensive and the quality varies a lot.
How can we afford to pursue higher education when most of us are earning low wages? The economic situation largely impacts everything and making it harder and harder to get a good education. Many parents’ sacrifice a lot to let at least one of their children makes it, and that is something to honor highly. My parents could not fully afford to send me to school; but they made a way. With a big ambition in tow, I was very passionate to make a way too. My father’s salary as a government employee was never enough, but his understanding of the importance of a good education created a way and convinced me to fight hard for a better future.
Instead of crying because I was walking on a thread, I went to a state university. It was closing time. After being denied because they have met their quota, I did not give up and told the in-charge that they have to check my grades first and allow me to write an essay on the spot. I begged and told them that I was multi talented, that I desperately needed a chance. They thought they’d give me a try and they liked my essay. They said they were convinced enough to give me a chance. I don’t know if I was imagining or not, but I saw a little tear in the eye of the in-charge. And my tears fell also seeing the many still waiting in vain outside the door with the “CLOSE” sign.
I was very happy to return home announcing I will be able to study in a state university. But nothing prepared me for the tough times, but the sheer ambition to finish my studies. I lived within my means. I did not buy new clothes unless very much needed. I skipped my snacks. And when there are days I cannot stretch my money anymore, I borrowed from friends. I took all the work I could get. When days are hard for your family, you just cannot pester your parents.
I had to make some assignments for classmates in exchange for a few pesos and do some writing jobs till morning. I also had to contact my God mothers and fathers for advance Christmas money gifts and they were just happy to give. And miraculously, I made it. I got nice jobs and was also able to afford a crash course after graduating.
Always a learner at heart, I continue to find ways to upgrade my knowledge by investigating some practical trainings, workshops and courses. Online platforms and related courses can be implemented to increase the productivity of schools, workforce and students to solve tuition fee increases of institutions. However, there are not many offers here in my hometown that are very affordable and of good quality.
I never had any regret even in the hardest times because the price of not having a higher education is far more costly. Tuition fee increases in the last decades in a rich country like US, for example, continue to open the gap between the rich and the poor creating domino effect of instability, injustice and conflicts. And it is also happening here.
I am calling on the government to invest in the education department the same way they put the budget and attention to peace and order problems. Knowledge and insight are also needed for peace. We see almost daily how primitive minds can turn into extremities endangering our nation. That’s how costly it is in the long run to not invest in education needed.