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. Technical and vocational skills training (mostly offered by private companies) is very expensive and the quality is not guaranteed.
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. Parents sacrifice a lot to let at least one of their children to school, and that is something to honor highly. My parents could not fully afford to send me to school, but they tried to find ways. With a big ambition in tow, I was very passionate to make something out of myself too. My father’s salary as a government employee was never enough, but his understanding of the importance of a good education created a passion that 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. My tears fell also seeing the others still waiting outside the door.
I was very happy to return home announcing I will be able to study at a state university. 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 it was very much needed. I skipped my snacks. When there are days I cannot stretch my money anymore, I borrowed from friends. I took all the work I could get. When your family is already hard up, you cannot just pester them for your education.
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 Godmothers and fathers for advanced Christmas money gifts and they were just happy to give. After all these, I made it. I got nice jobs and was also able to afford a crash course after graduating.
Always a learner at heart, I continued to find ways to upgrade my knowledge by investigating some practical training, workshops, and courses. Online platforms and related courses can be implemented to increase the productivity of schools, the workforce, and students to solve tuition fee increases of institutions. There were not many offers in my hometown that were 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 the US, for example, continue to open the gap between the rich and the poor creating a 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 the education needed.