Monday, May 11, 2015

Education: Shaped by culture?

There is a culture that permeates in our society. And I am not pleased.  Having observed the educational system, it is the least bit inclusive.

The slow learners gets left behind. If they are not lucky enough, they are scorned. If they are charming, they are favored. The system rank them from top to bottom.  The parents, more stressed, rather than the child. I have seen a parent prepare a 20-page reviewer for her son, and it gave me the feeling that I am not doing so much for my children! I wouldn't want to rationalize, but looking at my children, I believe they can go beyond their ABC's and Basic Algebra, and can survive even when I am not around.  Yes, life skills. I guess, for most parents, they force their children to do well, compete to the point that they do their children's assignments, simply because our society tells us that being on top is the way to go. I am not against excellence. In fact, I always encourage my children to be excellent because God is an excellent God. But every child is unique. They learn differently.  Although there is now so much written about multiple intelligence, inclusive education and the like, it is also very hard to change our system. I always believe that my children can learn responsibility and accountability more when they do things on their own.  Yet, I can nag them to do their projects and assignments, I can help them, but  I will not do it for them just for them to get a grade. If they do not have it, they get zero. It is painful, yes. But the learning they get from that experience is priceless. They gain wisdom rather than the grade.

Society also dictates that a course with a board examination is "more" or "greater than" a course without one. A board examination will not always be a good signal for high ability. No, I am not saying this because an Economics degree does not require a board examination. I encountered a lot of very brilliant students all flocking to a degree with board examination but ends up frustrated right after graduation.  "I finished this very difficult and expensive degree, took up the board examination, then I am only paid this much, and it is even lower than what my non-degree high school classmate is getting." In some cases, "I passed the board examination, and here is a college classmate in Tax getting a higher position and a higher pay."

Discussions on asymmetric information would explain that after graduation, pooling equilibrium occurs. Which means that since employers do not really know the ability of the applicants, they are all treated alike. Thus, they are also paid alike (or what we generally call the average price). The average price results from asymmetric information.  Ergo, whether you graduated Cum Laude or you graduated with a GWA of 75, you still get the same pay. The competition starts when you are able to signal that you are the best fit for the job.  Which means to say there is already separating equilibrium.

Board passers are also treated alike. Whether you got 95 or the lowest you can get from the examination, they passed the Board exam, period. Thus, they get similar positions and get similar pay. Pooling equilibrium. Once they go through that, they can take measures to signal they are better than the others, and paid higher. Separating equilibrium.

Most of the time, board examinations are given especially to courses where there are so many wanting to be part of that specific industry.  Market forces dictates that, if there is no regulation, the more suppliers we have in the market, the lower is the labor price.  It pushes the prices down.  Thus, a board examination will generally limit the market and raise the average price in the labor market.

Society then thinks, they are paid higher. Thus, they can do better and be more successful.

Why not take Economics or Math instead, like what other countries do? Why not Philosophy? They are very unpopular in our country, but not for most countries that actually knows the value of these three courses.  Why are we not aware of them? It is because our society never taught us to like them. Our culture is so focused on the extension that we can have before or after our names that we lost sight of the relevance of pursuing pure sciences which is supposed to be the foundation of policy making.

And why not Agriculture? They see no hope in Agriculture. They see no future in it. Why? Because their very decision of selling their carabaos and lands for their children to go to school so they get employed in a big company.  A mindset saying there is no future in agriculture is the very thing that puts down the Agricultural industry.

Oh, and may I just share, my eldest, wants a career in Agriculture.  I hope he still has that choice when he will eventually finish senior high school.