Prompt #12: Talk about how important you think education is.
If I was a fairy godmother, I wish I could be the fairy godmother for intelligence. I would give talents and skills and inexplicable genius to little babies because I really wish people were a little more intelligent. If I could, I would make every Filipino hold a master’s degree. That’s how much I wish people were a little more educated.
In the past few months, we’ve been comparing countries for work, not as a project in focus, but because it’s just what we usually do in policy making. We look at what other countries have been doing, where are they failing, where are they breaking the ceiling of expectations globally. One of the things that always stands out to me is how we have such great manpower, even in a very small country, but something is still amiss. We are 100-million people strong. Or is it really strong if we can’t translate the quantity into quality?
To name some of the highly developed countries and successful developing countries with significantly smaller population than the Philippines:
Germany, 82 million
United Kingdom, 65 million
South Korea, 50 million
Canada, 35 million
Australia 25 million
Sweden 9 million
Switzerland 8 million
Singapore 6 million
Finland 6 million
The countries named above are also included in the top countries when it comes to innovation, research and technology. So why am I saying this?
Imagine a Philippines where people are more intelligent. Imagine innovation of transportation so that movement of people across islands is no longer hindered. Imagine investing in research in fields that are undervalued, but have great potential for policy translation in the Philippines—traditional medicine, systems research, and implementation research, to name a few. Imagine creating information technology that would eradicate corruption and hasten service delivery.
But this isn’t just about how good we can be in science and technology, though we know how it can propel our country forward. This is about changing society. This is about people not throwing trash in the street or in rivers because they understand the impact of polluting our environment. This is about people who remember our history based on facts and not hearsay or opinions. This is about informed opinions and critically thought-of statements, not just trolls, keyboard warriors and other mentally cancerous whatnot in social media. This is about respect for women, children and marginalised groups because of a deeper understanding of humanity. This is about having a level of intelligence, enough that we would vote for the proper people into the highest positions in the land. That’s how important education is.
I know it is a vicious cycle because many corrupt leaders in the past are at fault why there is very little investment and very little change in the S&T and education sector. But, I hope those who get the opportunity to study will also not waste it. I’m not even demanding that everybody would graduate with Latin honours (I didn’t make it, too). But, people should really work hard to graduate on time, get a degree, get a post graduate degree if they can, and work for the country. For the government, even.
So, do I want the Philippines to top the next Global Innovation Index report? Not really. I just want to see every Filipino happy to be alive and proud to be in this country because of a society that makes the right choices, stands for respect, and upholds national identity.