Silver bullet for our country’s problems
We were treated to a string of inspiring news in the past couple of days about numerous high school students in the provinces who have been offered admission and scholarships in universities abroad. These are personal feats, but we delight in their achievements because they’re products of the taxpayer-supported Philippine Science High School (PSHS) system which has 16 campuses all over our country.
Among the PSHS students who received admission offers and scholarship grants from various universities abroad, six each are from the Cagayan Valley and Eastern Visayas campuses, five each are from the Southern Mindanao and Cordillera Administrative Region campuses, and four each are from the Central Visayas, Western Visayas, and the Soccsksargen campuses.
There are many more students from the other PSHS campuses who received similar offers. Department of Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato de la Peña disclosed that a total of 81 PSHS graduates got admission offers from 90 prestigious universities abroad, mostly with full scholarships.
The news about these kids’ acceptance in foreign universities should delight us because it shows that our students, given proper breaks, can be at par with students from rich countries. However, the news is also saddening because, once these kids are educated abroad, chances are they will seek careers overseas, worsening the brain drain in our country. But the revelation of De la Peña that only 19 of the 81 PSHS students who received admissions in foreign schools have accepted the offers gives comfort somehow.
Among the universities that have given admission offers to our young science and mathematics scholars are Yale University, Duke University, New York University, University of California at Berkeley, National Tsing Hua University (Taiwan), King’s College London, Trinity College Dublin, Rangsit University (Thailand), Jacobs University Bremen (Germany), and University of Sydney.
The individual economic status of these students was not disclosed, but the family profile of Nathan Ariston, who has just graduated from the PSHS Central Mindanao Campus, is probably typical. Ariston is the son of a teacher and a farmer in Mindanao, and he’s set to attend Yale University on full scholarship.
It’s welcome news that the PSHS has expanded from the single Quezon City campus it used to have, to almost a campus each in all our regions. Giving access to quality education to our brilliant but poor children scattered all over our islands will always be a praiseworthy public investment. We must also commend the growing number of our cities that have established science high schools in numerous provinces.
Another specialized public high school that should be made to expand with campuses in all our regions is the Philippine High School for the Arts (PHSA). The PHSA currently has a single campus in Los Baños, Laguna, and it offers arts-focused education to children who show early talents in creative writing, dance, music, theater arts, and visual arts. It has an impressive roster of alumni who enrich arts in our society. We Filipinos have an international reputation of being a people exceptionally talented in the arts, so kids in every corner of our country who manifest artistic talents must be given access to a special arts school nearby.
While these special public schools should be nurtured and expanded, we must not unwittingly allow them to become institutions that worsen elitism in our society. These schools must reach out to ordinary public high schools in as many provinces as possible by sharing their videotaped lectures and other educational tools. The same should be done by elite private schools like Ateneo and La Salle, which should go beyond giving scholarships to a handful of poor students.
Education has always been and will remain as the only silver bullet that can solve the political, social, and economic ills of our country. Our schools must all become silver bullet factories.
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