"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

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Finishing high school

My father did not finish high school. He had to fake a high school diploma just to get a job as a security guard. But my father was my first teacher in mathematics. Back to the time when we were tending a small store inside Pasig market, my father made me add the sales for the day. Of course, there was the much more exciting activity, horse racing. The math here was not as straightforward. I had to figure out how much time a horse would take to finish a 1 1/4 mile race given its record on 7/8 mile race, as my father and I did our weekly Dividendazo review. My father taught me so much more than just math though. He taught me the skills and principles to survive in the mean streets of Manila. And he never failed to instill in me the perseverance and determination I needed to finish at least high school. In fact, one of the days I thought my father felt a true life accomplishment was when I told him the news that I was going to be in the star section in Manila Science High School for my third year. That to him sealed my chance of finishing secondary education. I guessed my father managed to do a bit more. I graduated in college from Ateneo de Manila, got my doctorate from University of Illinois, and secured tenure in a university in the United States. Most parents do take the education of their children seriously. It is really sad when the government does not. My father may have been poor but he is always on top of everything I need in school. My father easily gives up even a meal just to ensure I meet all the requirements. That is why it pains me whenever the school has some unnecessary projects that require money. Such commitment to provide whatever resources are necessary must be part of any curricular reform in basic education. It is in these terms that my father, a school dropout, knows so much more than education policy makers in the Philippines.

My father
Ray Vargas of the Parents Advocacy for Children's Education (PACE) says it well in his proposal:

Create a permanent committee in the department that caters to parent issues in education and appoint a parent (not solely academician, religious, etc.) to head that committee. If parents are partners, so be it. Don't treat them like clients in education.

Parents are not clients. They are essential partners in the education of children. They need to be heard. Most parents are like my father. They really want to see their children finish at least high school.

And to all fathers, a Happy Father's Day.

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