By JULLIE Y. DAZA
How can we teach our children to love discovering the world through their books and their teachers’ eyes when packing them into poorly ventilated, jampacked classrooms is a daily punishment?
The school-age population has grown another 2.5 percent – and it’s no coincidence that the figures are almost identical with the annual birth rate. In the ’70s, the population boom was fueled by a birth rate of 3.2 percent, something like three babies born every minute. Half a century later, a slowdown of .7 percent does not mean much, as our teachers and Education Secretary Leonor Briones know only too well. (Have you ever wondered how to produce 2.5 or 3.2 babies? Statisticians and demographers know how, it seems.)
Never enough classrooms, toilets with water, desks, books. Never enough buildings with enough facilities like computers and lab equipment, despite another constant, the dropouts and graduates. The population explosion – two words that have disappeared from media’s consciousness – is exponential, which makes it well nigh impossible to give the kids a comfortable, pleasurable environment for learning. And think how stressful it must be for Teacher when she is herself feeling so frustrated, unhappy with the state of things!
On the surface, we can only wring our hands and pity the children in their crammed classrooms, unsure what emotional/psychological consequences could result from being cooped up for hours each day. On top of the physical discomfort, they are divided into three shifts, not the best times for the little ones.
When they grow up to become members of the working force, as surely they will, they’ll be part of the culture of “pila pila” (line forming) waiting for a ride, waiting to pay their taxes, to be served by a public servant who acts like their master. At 10:30 on a weekday some nights ago, I felt my heart shrink at the sight of a colony of young adults forming a kilometer-long queue coming down the footbridge at Robinsons Galleria while on the other side of the street another line was moving ever so slowly in snake formation. The rain came down on them, gently but without tenderness – how much rest and sleep could they claim before the grind started again tomorrow?