I think there should be no state or local government-owned universities; all universities including UP should be private. Then government will give education vouchers to ALL university students, flat rate. say, P25,000 per university student per semester, maximum of 10 sems, and students must maintain a minimum of weighted grade average.
If the student enrols in a P50,000 school fees per semester, he or his parents/guardians will simply pay the balance. Or he can look for other scholarships to fill the gap. Poorer students can enrol in cheaper universities and pay nothing. This way, every university student is an "iskolar ng bayan", funded from taxes. And universities will work hard to improve their education to attract more students who all have money.
If government should subsidize university students, it should subsidize ALL, not just those in state universities. Currently the policy is very discriminating. If you enroll in UP, PUP, etc., "iskolar ng bayan" ka but if you enrol in UE, UST, etc., you pay on your own even if your parents pay taxes, part of it goes to state universities. Mini-cronyism in education.
A friend commented that in Nordic countries like Norway, education in all levels is free. Well, this is a function of how much social surplus a society has. High productivity, low population countries can afford that. But there is nothing wrong with parents paying for the education of their kids. After all, there should be more personal and parental responsibility in any society, and less government responsibility. Alangan naman painom-inom, pa-party-party lang parents, arguing that "education is government responsibility, not parental responsibility." Let parents and guardians have more responsibility, more purchasing power, and have more choices.
About results of the annual bar exams and the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) graduation, this is one fixation by the mainstream media and the public. Each year, zero exception, the bar top notchers and PMA top 10 graduates, are in the front pages of national newspapers and in TV news. These guys are achievers, true. But there are other guys who are also great achievers, like people who come back to the country with a PhD in number theory like Fidel Nemenzo. Or a PhD in astrophysics like Reina Reyes and so on. And they are nowhere mentioned in mainstream media.
Which somehow speaks how politically biased, or even shallow, the mainstream local media is. If you are the future Senator or Congressman/woman or President because of your cool achievement in the exams for lawyers, and if you are a future general with command and control of a huge army of men and women with guns, bombs, tanks and jet fighters, the public should glorify you now.
Voucher System and School Choice
December 12, 2008
I congratulated a friend, a Filipina mother, on her home-schooling experience and choice. I know of a few career women mothers who ultimately gave up their professions to home-school their kids, with complimentary education at formal, private schools.
The middle ground between home-schooling and government-schooling is the voucher system. If i'm not mistaken, it goes like this.
All schools, elementary to tertiary, are private. Thus all govt schools will be privatized. Then government will give away vouchers to all students (through their parents or guardians, of course), and the parents/guardians will choose which school they will enroll their kids. This will put competition among schools to provide good quality, or customized education, to students in order to attract more students. So schools that can't produce a single medal winner in any of the various academics competition for several years will feel the pressure or will ultimately close shop. Or they may position themselves as schools for the arts, for sports, for foreign language proficiency, etc.
So there is still government involvement in education, but this time there is pressure for the schools to do more, to attract more students because if they don't, they will face closure as they will get very few or no enrollees.
The voucher will not be very big. So if parents want to bring their kids to more expensive schools, they will have to pay the difference between school fees and voucher amount.
My friend suggested that the voucher system under an all private schools system in the Philippines looks improbable, that it might take a revolution to implement it.
Well people accept zero government presence in food production and distribution, in clothing production and distribution, in public transpo production and distribution, etc. That is why there is no government restaurant, no govt. carinderia or turo-turo in the Philippines, and people are eating. Some eat P30 per meal, others at P300 per meal, others at P3,000 per meal, etc. People are generally not complaining, there is no revolution to "equalize and standardize" food being eaten by Filipinos. But when it comes to education, people do not want to accept diversity and inequality, that is why all schools preferably should be government, from elementary to university.
Can you imagine if government owns at least 1/3 or 1/2 of all carinderias and restaurants in the country, and 1/3 or 1/2 of all buses, jeepeneys and tricycles, like the current 1/2 to 3/4 of all schools are govt schools....
Perhaps a 60 percent personal income tax automatically deducted from our monthly salaries will not be enough. And people who benefit from those govt restaurants, those who receive subsidies and govt employees in those restaurants and jeepneys, will complain that they don't have enough budget to fulfill their function, they want more budget to better serve the people. So maybe 70 percent personal income tax? Or maybe 20 percent VAT?
But we didnt have any revolution when all eateries, carinderias and restaurants were private.
If think that if the people can accept just in principle, that schools, like restaurants/ carinderias/ palengke, can be fully private, it will be easy to bring down personal income tax to just 10 to 15 percent top rate, Private elementary schools will be charging P15k to P150k to P1.5 million/year per student, should depend on parents' determination to bring their kids to good schools plus their own effort like home-schooling.
Charities like voluntary donation of community schools, to be provided by some philantrophers or civic-minded people and groups, need not face a kilometric length of requirements and authorizations from any government agency. You want to help, go ahead and start today or tomorrow!