I received an email yesterday citing a list of top universities in the country today. Too bad, I accidentally erased the email not thinking that I will blog about it. Anyway, as far as i can remember, topping the list was the University of the Philippines, together with some 10 other universities in Luzon. Anyway, Bobit S. Avila of Philippine Star, in his Inside Cebu column said, "On the top four slots were the University of the Philippines Diliman, UP Los Baños, UP Manila, and Siliman University (Dumaguete City), respectively. Ateneo de Davao came fifth, followed by Ateneo de Manila University. In seventh to 10th places were the University of Sto. Tomas, Mindanao State University (Iligan), Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, and St. Louis University (Baguio)...
This list got me wondering how we fared internationally. Making a quick browse in the internet, I chanced upon a list of top universities in Asia here. As you can see, Asiaweek has the UP ranked as 41st, DLSU (71), Ateneo de Manila (72) and UST(74)in Asia alone. Should I say we are doing poorly? Now, I don't know how old the list is as the recent Professional Regulations Commission and CHED list shows that Ateneo and UST are higher in ranking than DLSU. However, which ever is the best University to go to is not the point of this blog.
What does a list like this say? Does it really mean that the one at the top slot is the best among the lot? Maybe, for after all, the statistics cannot lie. I have a very simple mind and in my simple way of thinking, I believe it is easy to be number one. All a University has to do is to select its students... meaning, accept only the best student-applicants through a very competitive entrance examination, then, weeding out those who cannot cope with the high standards of the university during the course of their stay. This is the reason why high school seniors would attend review classes just to enter a university of their choice. (I believe there is something wrong here. The entrance test is given to see the preparedness of the applicant for college. Now, if the student still has to review for it, then does it follow that either our high schools' offerings are not sufficient, that we are looking at the wrong direction, or are colleges testing the wrong areas?) In any event, by choosing and teaching only the best students, the university is sure to produce the best.
However, is that what we need right now? The country produces thousands upon thousands of high school graduates. Where will these kids go? We know for a fact that we, as a people, put a very high premium on education thinking that it is the key to a well-paying job, ergo, a ticket to easy streetville.
For me, education should be open to all. Every young Filipino should have access to education. I can understand UP for its acceptance policies because it is State run. But that is on the premise that it only cater to the poor. No tuition fee paid. If the State will shoulder the burden of educating the masses for free, it has to be ensured of a very high performance rating. But is that really the case? How many students from the UP are poor? With the advent of technology, the playing field had changed. Only a fraction of the poor sector can pass its very high standard simply because most of them did not have the luxury of having a good education during their elementary and high school days. Maybe the socialized tuition fee is the answer for after all, UP cannot exist without a steady income. (Well, what school would?) It cannot rely on the government for sustenance, can it? But still, what is the percentage of the those in the lower socio-economic bracket are studying at the UP? Never mind.
What is saddening is that in her article entitled "A Bill to save University of the Philippines, which appeared on August 9, 2003, Rina David hints that the UP's edge over other universities may soon end. In a letter, UP president Francisco Nemenzo wrote that even as the university approaches its centennial, 'UP is facing harder times than ever." Many of its top Ph.D.'s have left for better-paying jobs in the private sector here and abroad, he mentions, while its laboratories and libraries "badly need to be modernized." Hopefully, our government leaders would find it in their hearts that we need good schools like the University of the Philippines and put greater emphasis on education by allocating more budget because not doing so would spell our doom as a nation and as a people.
What makes a school a good one? I believe it is the combination of a good faculty line-up, good resources and educational equipment and a conscientious student body. These I believe are the essential requisites of a good educational organization. But of course, that would be asking for the moon.