School Work

Comm 100 - Final Paper

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submitted in Comm 100 class in UP Diliman
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  ABNKKBS NPLAko: More than just “kwentong chalk”   It was a turbulent time for the Philippines when the book was published. The corruption, insurgencies, and crises tormenting the country in that period also affected the education system that took center stage in Bob Ong’s book. The book therefore bears relevance to the time and society where it belonged. ABNKKBSNPLAko is a nostalgic read for Ong’s generation and a relatable one for the yout h of 2001. The book is a reminiscence of the author’s school life  which is probably very similar to those of the readers, no matter what generation they belong to. Flashbacks to the good times always provide people with a happy, temporary escape from the harsh reality they face day-to-day. It also serves as a “thank you” to the thankless and timeless heroism of Filipino teachers. Throughout the book, Ong emphasized teachers’ hardwork to fulfill their duties inside the classroom. He also highlighted the bravery of teachers as they put their lives on the line whenever they serve during the elections or reach out to children in insurgency-infested areas. It was the author’s way of showing appreciation to Filipino teachers who sacrifice a lot in their profession. It is also one of the many books that denounced the state’s neglect of its education system. It openly questioned the annual slashes on the education budget when the country is in dire need of more teachers, more books, and better facilities. The book is a fuel added to the fire burning in the hearts of Filipinos who want genuine social change. The book also alerts Filipinos on how distorted their perception of education has become. T he author’s ex periences depicted the gradual commodification of education, meaning society values it only because it will generate money for the individual and his family in the  future. It is also being dehumanized because society tends to evaluate one’s personhood based on his school grades, and in the future, based on the amount of money he makes. The book warns that if these twisted perceptions of education prevail, Filipino students may graduate without truly learning at all. Twelve years after the book’s publication, its relevance remains the same. But that is not something to be glad about, because it means the country is stranded on the same poverty-stricken ground. It means that the issues of our educational system remain unresolved. The book is still a nostalgic and relatable read to people across all ages. But the worsening poverty at present continues to deprive children and the youth of the capacity to enjoy this funny and thought-provoking literature. These groups of people that Jose Rizal referred to as “the hope of our nation” cannot even read what Ong wrote , let alone experience what he had. Filipino teachers are still struggling due to their destitute situation. Their salaries remain insufficient and delayed. Most of them still need to have a sideline job to make ends meet. They still do not get enough compensation for their service during chaotic elections. And with our state’s peace processes not inclusive enough, there is still a necessity for teachers to risk their lives to teach children in insurgency-infested areas. The state of our education system has not improved in twelve years. One teacher still has to teach sixty students or more. Classes have to be simultaneously held at a basketball court. Five or more students have to share one book. Tuition fee in private schools are too expensive. State universities and colleges annually receive a budget cut. Given the poverty still prevailing in our country, it is no wonder that Filipinos’ perception on education at present is as distorted as ever. Filipino students use their education  to be employed and to ensure the survival of their family only. And no matter how people say that grades are just numbers, these figures still take over students’ lives.  It is evident that the change Ong wanted to happen when he wrote the book has not yet materialized. Therefore it will still be a relevant read in the future. When future readers, especially the youth, see that they still live in the harsh reality of 2001, they can be urged to act collectively to make that long overdue bright future reachable. The book will continue to fight for Filipino children and youth’s right to education. Education is guaranteed by the constitution to everyone, regardless of race, gender, religion, and social class. And now more than ever, the country needs capable future leaders who can rescue it from poverty. That will only be possible if all Filipinos can go to school. The book will also continue to thank teachers by fighting for their right to a better life. After it has shown the severe working and living conditions of Filipino teachers, future readers must act to solve this issue. The book will also continue to demand for sufficient state subsidy on education. If the country’s funds are properly allocated and not pocketed by politicians, the government could provide more than enough teachers, books, and facilities. Free tertiary education in state universities and colleges could also be made possible. The book will also continue to call for the re-orientation of our education system. Our Western-oriented, individualistic education must be Filipinized. A Filipinized education system is rooted to the culture and needs of the Filipino society. When students participate in the economic production after they graduate, they must be geared to serve national interests and not personal and familial interests alone. A Filipinized education is also an objective and concrete analysis of the situation of the country. It enables students to provide exactly what the country needs. Lastly, a Filipinized education uplifts the less fortunate members of society. It fights for  genuine agrarian development for the peasants, labor rights of workers, free and quality education for the youth, and human rights of women, children, Muslims, indigenous peoples, and even of insurgents. After 135 pages of school stories full of ups and downs, Bob Ong has imparted a number of life lessons to its readers. He urged his readers to make the best out of their school life. Although education is a right, not everyone is privileged to go to school. Therefore, those who have the opportunity to be formally educated must imbue themselves with serviceable knowledge and desirable values during their stay in the academe. He also told them that people are allowed to make mistakes. The world does not need perfect humans. What it needs are humans who can learn and rise from their failures. One is allowed to try as many times as he can until he gets it right, until he arrives at an answer. The final and the most important lesson ABNKKBSNPLAko has taught lies in Mark Twain’s quote that Ong placed at the beginning of his book. “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education,” the quote said. Schooling is learning confined in the academe, while education goes beyond it. Schooling evaluates an individual through grades, while the success of an education can be measured on how one has helped people, on how he has positively changed his society. The two are very much different and must not be equated to each other. Once they are confused to be the same, people might miss out on more important facts, more crucial knowledge that can bring about a better, more just world.
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