Sunday, October 10, 2010

Paying the Country Back with Honor and Excellence

I just watched Prof. Winnie Monsod's last semestral lecture video on YouTube link. . I was touched by her sentiments. I am amazed by the coincidence because just weeks back I was having a small talk with a true blue Atenista, Mr. Ed David, about how much it takes to educate college students in the leading Philippine universities. And he mentioned the same problem of how our prime medical graduates from the U.P. College of Medicine would receive the best of the best education but about 80 percent would end up working abroad. Mr. David did not elaborate on the whole subject but he somehow gave me an idea on how a U.P. should be thankful for his education. I am not the best person to actually paint such cost scenarios but I think my illustration would be easy to comprehend for a lay person.

It is basic knowledge that an average Atenean would pay something around P60K for a semester of quality education in Ateneo. A La Sallista would pay something in the same vicinity for a trimester load. A UST student will pay P40K plus per semester. Which means that these schools will have to shell out that kind of a budget per student for his/her education, so in Ateneo, a student is budgeted P60k multiplied by 2 semesters equalling to 120 thousand in a year. A UST student at 40 K x2 is 80K or so budget for the year, budget meaning the cost they allot to pay the salaries of competent (qualified) teachers and administrative staff, facilities maintenance, electricity, library books, water, etc.

But what about students in the premier state university? If we are to compute what a single U.P. students pays in a year, it is as low as 30 thousand for a semester which amounts to 60 K in a year, a far cry even from UST's 80 thousand plus budget per student.- not much of a budget to uphold the honor and excellence which U.P. is striving for. So how in the world would an institution of excellence like U.P. pay for the good quality it promises each and every one of its students?

When I was in college I was included in the first batch to be immersed in STFAP bracket 9. But even paying the full tuition (in 1989 was 4 thousand per sem), we were told that we still could be considered scholars as the price of educating us would be much more than the 4 thousand we were shelling out. Of course being students and knowing that the previous batches paid almost nothing in U.P., much of my contemporaries were outraged by the sudden escalation of tuition fees. I myself just wondered how much more U.P. was covering for me.

20 years after I got to learn how much it costs. I was told that U.P. student is budgeted around 180k per year, much more than 120 K per Ateneo stude. If that is the case, then each U.P. scholar is subsidized by more than 100k. Could that be true? But if we equate that U.P. is one school which provides housing for its faculty and staff, just for them to remain teaching in U.P. Double premium on PHD professors so that they would stay teaching with a meager salary, to uphold the quality education in each of the colleges. U.P. does not only strive to excel as an collective institution. Each and every college would want to be the very best in its particular field. Which means providing facilities for students entering almost all endeavors, even if it means that there is only two or three students in every classroom. U.P. needs several buildings to house all of those colleges and courses. For an architect like me, I would understand that each building would require a bundle to operate and maintain, just to provide a place for honor and excellence.

Learning about this actually gives Professor Monsod a reason to be sentimental about U.P medicine graduates going abroad. Imagine Filipinos paying 180 K x 7 years for an INTARMED student. Then they go out fly to another country and serve there. Even foreign scholarship grants have in mind the importance of returning to and serving in a student's country of origin, requiring the scholar to render years of service in exchange for the free education.

Of course there is nothing wrong about aspiring for a better life and grabbing better opportunities which our country could not provide. But as U.P. studes, partaking on the generous education subsidy, we enter the honor and excellence clause and promise to uphold the ideals of the university. UP develops analytical minds. To us UP grads, a little service to our country sounds logical, we need not even count the years and the pesos spent on us to gain quality education, honor and excellence - or else Prof. Monsod will haunt us from her future grave.

But joking aside we need more idealistic people like Prof. Monsod, may she live for many more years to come. May she influence more people from our ranks, UP students and UP graduates, aspiring to become the future leaders and hopefully the fine rays of hope for our country.

1 comment:

flipster said...

I agree with the concept of payback, Americans call it endowment and Bill Gates is the classic example.
Unfortunately, with a few exceptions, Filipinos here in the US are more concerned with things material-high end cars, stock portfolios, home equities, etc. Sad to say we can't even get together as a group to create a political bloc for our own benefit while the Vietmanese,
Hindus(India), Chinese and Koreans have forged ahead.
Why? Maybe because of our insularity or colonial mentality that we lose or morph into a different entity once we get out of the Philippines. But, are we not the only Christian nation in Asia, supposedly altruistic with an ingrained "utang na loob" culture?