I have heard some ridiculous things, and I am well aware of the sorry state of our public education system, despite real attempts to improve it in recent years. And I have set up a private school and assisted in running the administrative side of things for a while, so I am not speaking completely out of turn. But this is graduation week (as was last week) for most schools in the Philippines and I just have to write something on some of the absurd things that have come to my attention in recent days.
First, why can’t schools FRIGGING SCHEDULE THEIR CEREMONIES MONTHS IN ADVANCE? It seems many public, and some dubious private schools, cannot or do not want to confirm a graduation date and time until the last possible moment. This is crazy. What if parents are traveling (and not just a leisure trip abroad, but say a business trip to Dagupan)? What if they have to file their leaves weeks in advance? Shouldn’t the school have a calendar at the start of the year and stick to it unless force majeure like a nearby volcano erupts and buries the school gymnasium or a massive flood sweeps away the whole teaching complement occurs?
Second, what are with all these last minute fees that you have to pay, or you can’t march? Is that even legal? And couldn’t they have foreseen that earlier in the year? And what of the folks I had dinner with last week whose daughter graduated from college and was asked to pay substantial fees for a graduation dinner for graduate and family members, but when they got to the venue, the teachers and administrators (who apparently didn’t pay) ate up most of the food, and there wasn’t any left for the guests or students? That’s just pathetic.
But perhaps the most amusing/annoying thing to come across this morning driving through some back streets in Cebu was this vision of 100-200 high school students traipsing along a sidewalk, each with mono bloc or white plastic chair above their heads. When I asked what this vision of ridiculousness was, I was told, each student had to buy or borrow and BRING their own white chair from home or they couldn’t sit at the graduation ceremonies, held at a nearby public gymnasium. OMG. Seriously? Our public schools don’t have enough money for plastic chairs for assemblies throughout the year, and to honor their graduates at that final culmination of their academic studies? Good grief. Graduation is most certainly not more fun in the Philippines…
Both photos by JD.