"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Monday, June 23, 2014

Can We Not Do Simple Math?

Conrado de Quiros wrote recently an editorial in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. It is entitled "It Can Be Done". Sadly, while the editorial supports teachers' demands for a raise in their salaries, it demonstrates poor math. The placement of zeroes is quite important. Each one is an order of magnitude. There is a big difference between 10 and 1. 10 is ten times bigger than 1. The following is an excerpt.

3 billion pesos a year do seem small compared to 10 billion. Unfortunately, there is gross miscalculation. There are more than 500,000 teachers. An increase to a monthly salary of 25,000 from 18,000 pesos means an increase of 7,000 pesos per month. This is per month. A 7,000 peso increase for each of the 500,000 teachers equals 3.5 billion pesos. Again, this is per month. Multiply this by 12, the required annual amount is 42 billion pesos. This is more than ten times the number Conrado de Quiros writes in his column shown above.

What is disconcerting is that this number supposedly came from the Alliance of Concerned Teachers.

Teachers do need all the support we could give. Teachers perform a major role in raising our children. But we do need them to be accountable. We need teachers to demonstrate that they are capable. Doing horrible math does not help the teacher's case. Continuing to clamor for an imposition of a language in higher education that is not the mother tongue for all Filipinos does not help as well. The objective is to uplift basic education and there is a need to focus on the correct issues. And the need to lay out the issues correctly is equally important. One cannot afford to do bad math if we desire to teach our children good math.

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