College entrance exam
My daughter took the UPCAT exams this morning. It started at 6:30. While this is the third time seeing my child take the exams in UP, this is the first time I've experienced taking someone that early. My eldest and second child took the second batch which was in the afternoon. The 6:30 exam is much easier, traffic-wise so that made the trip a less taxing although the 6 hour wait is still too long. Well, at least I had company this time. A parent in our school who I happen to have known a long time was there also waiting for his child.
Anyway, this post is not actually about my daughter taking the exam. This is about the proliferation of review centers for collegiate entrance exams mostly for UP, Ateneo and La Salle. My question is why? The way I think about it is that these entrance exams are to test whether or not these students are ready for college work in their campuses. Ready to tackle their programs and that means if they have had the proper training and preparation in high school. The way I look at it, the phenomenon of having these students take special review for their entrance tests suggest either of two things: the high school preparation they have been getting is not enough or that these universities are asking questions that are way above that which these students have been prepared for. Sure, it can be argued that the questions asked in these exams encompass four years of high school and that the students should review what they have learned from the start. But if that were the case, the high school they went to could have made a simple review of what have been taken before and that should have been sufficient. Stock knowledge, so to speak. As it were, more and more students are taking these review classes aside from the regular classes they are studying in school to ensure acceptance in the best colleges. One thing for certain is that the competition is too high and that one must take everything available to him/her in order to get in to a university of his/her choice.
What really saddens me is that this makes education much less accessible to the poor. Never mind that their children have had less in terms of resources like good books, good teachers, libraries, computers and all that. Now, they need to take review classes as their high school preparation was not enough. And where would they get the money for this expensive affair? The majority of Filipinos hardly make both ends meet. The best university to go to would have been UP as it is not only the top university in the country today, it is, by far, the cheapest. And yet, this is not a stone's throw away to them. It is as far as the moon, maybe farther. This is the reason why most of the students UP has these days come also from the moneyed parents and only a fraction of the poor really enjoy the benefits of a full-time scholarship. If only our political leaders see this problem, then probably there can be a glimmer of hope that they would make education top priority and make public schools a lot better than it is today. Sadly, we have been nailed to the same problems that remain unsolvable till now - classrooms and good teachers. These are problems that could have been solved easily - budget allocation. Unfortunately, money is scarce these days as this commodity is filling up some unscrupulous, conscienced-deprived hooligan's pockets.