The pursuit of education

(photo credit: mediagallery.usatoday.com)

A research about South Korea that I recently finished afforded me with a better perspective on how the nation’s economy leapfrogged over the past 50 years. The modern industrialized state currently ranks as the 15th largest economy in the world and Asia’s third largest.

South Korea’s massive economic growth is nothing short of amazing considering its humble beginnings. From being one of the poorest countries roughly five decades ago, it’s now enjoying the status of a “high-income developed country”.

Confucianism influence is strong in South Korea culture. In effect, this extends to how they value education. With people and the government investing on education, they have students who spend an average of 7.6 hours per day studying. And that doesn’t include the amount of time students spend on after-school tutoring and personal study time.

Several factors help shape a nation’s economy. Education is one of them. The age old belief that education is the key to success seems to prove its point in South Korea’s case.

Currently, South Korea has one of the best K-12 educational systems in the world. It also has the highest broadband penetration. And as of this writing, it’s maintaining a tight hold of its spot in the top ten countries with the most number of medals in the ongoing London 2012 Olympics.

Some say that the South Korean mindset on education is proving to be unhealthy for students. Many students, with the help of their parents, don’t seem to mind going to great lengths to ensure entry to top universities and Ivy League education.

I’m neither a South Korean nor an expert with vast knowledge about the country. I can’t say much about what’s best education policy for them to make moving forward.

What I know is that us here in the Philippines can take a leaf off South Korea’s book. Education must truly be promoted. Not on the level of usual political rhetoric often heard especially during election campaign periods.

Philippine educational system need to work in such a way that more students who enroll in elementary schools will eventually graduate from colleges and universities. Everything has to start at the roots of this society.

Every family should give importance to education. But for that to happen, solid groundwork must be laid to make it possible for every Filipino family to aim and provide for their children’s education. The government needs to work hand in hand with various sectors in initiating and sustaining reforms.

Education translates to a future pool of human resources that have the knowledge and skills to help in working for a better country. It means a potentially huge workforce that would help address the issue of brain drain.

But perhaps, best of all, education can mean freedom for future voters. Maybe it can diminish or eliminate the issue of vote-buying. In what could be an ideal state, it can mean better governance by leaders elected for their potential to effectively steer knowledgeable and skilled people to help change the course of this country’s fate.

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