Here is another indication that the benefits of the 30-year record-high economic growth are not trickling down to the poor: up to 3.3 million children will be out of school this year, mostly due to poverty. This is the assessment of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers or ACT, which is calling for urgent intervention by the government to save millions of Filipino children from being deprived of proper education.
The Department of Education estimates that only about a million children will be unable to enroll this school year. But even that modest estimate is too much in a country where basic education is supposed to be free and compulsory, and where the Constitution provides that the lion’s share of the annual budget should go to education.
Though elementary and high school education is supposed to be free, parents still cannot afford the daily transportation fare, snacks and miscellaneous fees that they must shoulder for their children’s education. Sending a child to school also means one less helper in farms or in marginal means of livelihood.
ACT members say that the number of out-of-school youths aged 6 to 15 has jumped by a whopping 78 percent since 2002, from 1.86 million to 3.33 million last year. The teachers’ alliance is urging the government to expand its school feeding program and provide free mass transportation for school children in impoverished or remote communities. The teachers also point out that while public schools are barred from collecting miscellaneous fees during enrollment, such fees are still collected throughout the school year.
Every year that a child lags behind in school makes it harder to catch up with more fortunate classmates. Previous studies have raised concern over the high dropout rate in public schools, with too many children unable to make it past sixth grade. By the time these dropouts become adults, they are severely handicapped by their lack of education. This is a crisis and the teachers are right; this crisis needs drastic intervention.
Updated June 08, 2008 12:00 AM
Road accidents, according to the Department of Health, have become the fourth leading cause of deaths in the Philippines. Only last Nov. 1, as people rushed home to visit their loved ones’ graves, six people were killed and about 60 others injured when an overloaded bus collided head-on with a Toyota Revo along the North Luzon Expressway in Mabalacat, Pampanga.
One reason for the accidents has been cited by both the Department of Health and the Land Transportation Office: long hours behind the wheel. The LTO said recent studies have shown that the average person can drive only six hours straight before fatigue affects driving. The DOH said lack of sleep and proper nutrition affect a driver’s reflexes and judgment of road conditions.
Most motorists are aware of the problems and try to get some rest and sufficient food during long drives. But such things can be a luxury for certain drivers who must meet certain hours of departure and arrival or meet passenger quotas. What do these drivers do? A number of them take shabu or other drugs to stay awake and ward off fatigue during long drives, according to cases recorded in the past years. As those cases have also shown, drug use has led to worse problems, leading to reckless driving that results in fatal accidents.
The DOH, which conducts a survey on road accidents every five years, reported that such accidents were the ninth leading cause of deaths in the country in 1998. By 2003, road accidents had become the fourth leading killer.
What can be done to address this problem? The DOH surveys cited three likely causes of road accidents: poor road engineering, inadequate education about traffic rules, and lack of road discipline. Road engineering is continually being improved, although the DOH noted that there is still much to be done in promoting pedestrian safety in Metro Manila. Drug tests are now a requirement for obtaining a driver’s license, but this is done only once every few years. Random drug tests may be done on drivers before they leave bus depots. Merely enforcing speed limits especially on roads such as the NLEX could save lives. Traffic rules will be followed and roads made safer if there is better law enforcement.
The country’s population is expected to reach 92.2 million this year, the National Statistics Office (NSO) said yesterday.
The NSO based its projection on the 2000 census-based population projections which it prepared in collaboration with the Inter-Agency Working Group on Population Projections.
Of the 92.2 million, 46.3 million are males, slightly higher than the female population which is expected to reach 45.8 million.
NSO Administrator Carmelita N. Ericta said the expected population was based on the medium assumption series of the population projections.
The low and high assumption series estimated the country’s total population this year to reach 91.8 million and 92.5 million, respectively, with the male population consistently numbering higher than the female population group.
The latest Census of Population (Popcen) conducted in 2007 recorded the country’s total population at 88.5 million. In 1995, it was recorded at 68.6 million while in 2000, the NSO recorded the Philippine population at 76.5 million.
Ericta said “the population is projected to grow by 1.95 percent in the 2005 to 2010 period from 85.3 million in 2005 to 94 million in 2010.”
“By 2040, the country’s population is expected to reach 141.7 million or an additional 65 million Filipinos between the years 2000 to 2040 even if the average annual growth rate is projected to drastically decline from 2.34 percent during the 1999 to 2000 period to around 1.0 percent during the 2030 to 2040 period,” Ericta said.
By Christina I. Hermoso
There are various benefits to being poor and happy. Not in monetary terms, or in the form of material possessions. The benefits are more meaningful and the best part is that many rich people don’t even know what they’re missing.
Majority of people in the Philippines is poor and happy. (If majority of the population is unhappy, we will be in big trouble). A small percentage is considered rich and quite a number of them are unhappy, (Many rich people are never happy with what they have and they always want more).
According to a US-government-funded World Values Survey, the Philippines ranked 38th in terms of happiness, trailing other Southeast Asian nations such as Thailand (27), Singapore (31), Malaysia (34), and Vietnam (36). “Denmark is the happiest country in the world in our ratings,” said Ronald Inglehart, a political scientist at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, who directed the study. “Denmark is prosperous — not the richest country in the world but it is prosperous.”
The ranking is not important now, but the timing is crucial. If the survey were made after Manny Pacquiao clobbered David Diaz to win the Lightweight Championship of the world title a few weeks ago, the results would be different. When the referee raised Pacquiao’s hand in victory, what country was the happiest in the world? The Philippines would have won hands down.
How can researchers from a rich country like the United States make a survey about happiness in a poor country like the Philippines? They equate happiness with prosperity. Many poor Filipinos (majority live in the rural areas) equate happiness with simple things such as having a good meal after a hard day of work in the rice paddies or later singing My Way in a karaoke bar.
The researchers asked the following questions in a survey of 350,000 people worldwide: a) Taking all things together, would you say you are very happy, rather happy, not very happy, not at all happy; b) All things considered, how satisfied are you with your life as a whole these days?
If the survey were made after Pacquiao’s victory, the unanimous answer of Filipinos, rich and poor alike, would be “very happy” and “very satisfied.” If you ask the poor farmer after he has eaten his meal or after he has acknowledged the applause of people in the bar for sounding like Frank Sinatra in singing My Way, his answer would still be “very happy” and “very satisfied.”
Being poor and happy is a way of life in rural communities. Poor people lead quiet lives and they are grateful and happy for whatever blessings come their way.
In fact, many Filipinos would prefer being poor and happy to being rich and miserable. People in the first category put emphasis on happy, and it doesn’t matter that they are poor. Those in the second category may flaunt their riches, but they are often miserable. Being poor and happy is bliss. The taxman will not touch you. Thieves will not bother to surprise you with a visit during the night. Because you have nothing to lose, you have no fear.
But the rich and miserable are scared and restless. They hire bodyguards for protection and security guards watch over their property. They fear the taxman, and some run away when they see a beggar coming. Their movements are limited. They are lonely and isolated.
Mention the word happiness and many people would think of things that will make them happy, or things that will make them sad. They will not think of the word as a term to describe their existence. “If the wife is happy, then I’m happy,” said a sleepy-eyed husband. He said he tried to slip in after a long night out with friends, but the wife was waiting. He said they had a long talk (Read: The wife did all the talking).
If you ask Filipinos: Would you consider yourself a happy person? Many would hesitate before answering “yes” or “no.” Others will say “depends” or shoot back with “why” and “who’s asking.”
It is also possible many people will not give an honest answer. If you ask, “What is your happiness level?” You would get a shrug. Besides, would you base your answer on your material possessions, physical attributes, spiritual attitude, hopes, dreams and aspirations? What about people who smile a lot? Does it mean they are happy? Well, smiles are misleading. In fact, many smiles are fake. Some people smile only during a pictorial because the photographer barks “everybody say cheese.”
Many happy people I know even suppress their smile because they have several front teeth missing. When they laugh they cover their mouths with their hands. When they put their hands down, the smile looks like a sneer.
Small happiness. Big happiness. Can you be totally happy? People cannot tell the difference. When you look into the mirror, do you smile? If you do, don’t let the wife catch you grinning, or you hear her say: “I’m glad you realize, at last, that you have a funny face.”
Author: Joel P. Palacios
Source: Manila Times Internet Edition
Date: July 11, 2008