According to the Greek philosopher, Plato, “Nothing is more important in human life as education. It is an indispensable necessity for mankind.” Education is the key that levels the playing field of opportunity between the rich and poor, amongst social classes and races. In the Philippines, the lack of education is the primary reason why it cannot move forward towards progress, and has led to social problems such as: scarcity of job opportunities, impoverished family life, and lack of environmental concerns among the marginalized members of our society. The lack of education of Filipinos living in the slum areas in major cities of the country is the void that keeps the gap between the rich and the poor. It is one of the major contributory factors that has caused the Philippines to remain as a third world country, aside from corruption in government. Our president, Benigno C. Aquino III, strongly believes that education is the first step that will lead the Filipinos to the “tuwid na daan.”
The lack of education can be equated to poor job opportunities. Job hiring, nowadays, is highly competitive among fresh graduates. In fact, the degree or course of an individual is not only the basis for getting a good paying job, but from what university or college he/she graduated from. Hence, since good job opportunities are scarce for those who have not gone to school, low paying “blue-collar jobs” is the only means to survive. Most often, these people are the victims of contractualization from which they do not receive benefits as compared to regular employees, and the protection from the abuses of companies that give below daily minimum wage that is set by law. In the survey conducted by the National Statistics Office (NSO) in 2011 on Child Labor, it showed that out of the 29.019 million Filipino children aged 5-17 years old, about 18.9 percent or 5.59 million were already working, usually in hazardous conditions. For parents who lack education, they actually pressure their children to work.
Instead of sending them to school, they force them to do so in order to help in the family’s financial needs. It works to the advantage of companies, those cost-cutting with their labor over-head, to employ children at a low cost. In reality, even these children themselves are unaware of their rights. They choose to work because they witness the poverty in their own family for which they feel the responsibility to help. In the remote provinces, young women who lack education are victims of white slavery or women trafficking, either domestically or abroad.
They are forced by their parents who are bribed by recruitment agencies, without knowing that their daughters will be turned into sex slaves by foreigners or even local sex dens in key cities in the country. Out-of-school-youth is increasing every year as the population increases. There have been crime syndicates preempting these children to commit crime since they are protected by the “juvenile law.” Minors at the age of 15 who commit crime will not be charged of the crime committed in a regular court, but will simply have to undergo rehabilitation in the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). Because of this, crime rates committed by minors have increased in the past years since the conceptualization of this law.
Another social impact of the lack of education is poverty. Since job opportunities are deficient, the financial status of the family suffers. Such condition leads to poor family planning, malnutrition, and juvenile delinquency. The lack of the basic knowledge on family planning has led to population explosion among the poor families. Statistically, large family size comes from the underprivileged families of the society. This is the result of the myth that the more children they have, the more chances they will have to be free from poverty if one of their children is fortunate enough to find a job that pays well. According to Plato, “No man should bring children into the world, which is unwilling to persevere to the end in their nature and education.” Parents must be mindful of their responsibility of sending their children to school in order for them to have a brighter future, and not by means of luck.
The lack of environmental awareness is another detrimental effect caused by the lack of education. These poor families are also known as informal settlers that reside in slum areas. They have created environmental problems such as air pollution, water pollution, flooding and congestion. Since they are formed in an environment where exposure to all kinds of pollution is highest, they usually operate outside society’s norms where environmental laws are not strictly enforced. They are situated along river lines or seashores which are frequently affected by typhoons, rains, erosion and sea surges. Not only does is this harmfully affect their environment, but also their health.
The risk of over-crowding along rivers and the narrowing of our floodway system, the garbage pollution they contribute everyday lead to disease outbreak like dengue, flooding, and casualties during typhoons and heavy rains. For a family of a deprived household with more mouths to feed, children also become victims of malnutrition. Improper nutrition affects all body systems, from physical growth and vision, brain vigor, and immunity. According to the survey conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), Filipino children suffer from micronutrient deficiency: Vitamin A, iodine and iron. The lack of Vitamin A affects eye health, while iodine affects cognitive functions and iron for fighting anemia. These defects have been mostly rampant among children of distressed families.
Lack of education is one of the major reasons why there is poverty in the country. To level the playing field of opportunities to every Filipino, I suggest that the government provide free and quality education to every child. The K-12 program in our educational system is one of the best initiatives this administration has done. The underprivileged children can now compete with children in exclusive schools, since they now have the same foundation of nursery and kinder education in preparation for a free grade one to seventh grade education given to them by the government. The passing of the RH bill is also a positive move the present government has done to address overpopulation. Relocating informal settlers to a safer community environment is a long term remedy for the issue of over-crowding, flooding and health risks.
As mentioned, education is the only way to level the playing field of opportunities between the rich and the poor. As Plato said, “Every boy and girl must be educated to his/her limit. Education, therefore, should be provided by the state not by parents.” The government’s K-12 program shows its determination to provide every child the right to education. What matters here is the full implementation of the programs that would benefit every child, especially those in the farthest corners of the country. Plato perceived education “as the total development of a man: mind, body, and soul by using every possible means.” Knowing the capabilities and ingenuity of every Filipino, through education, we can help the Philippines become one of the leading countries in Asia in the coming years.
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