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Categorized | Politics, Society

Devastated by Ondoy? Congrats: You just passed Calculus!

Senator Chiz Escudero wants to give students affected by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng the best relief goods ever:

“I urge the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education to pass all students affected by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng in elementary, high school, and college levels for the current semester or grading period,” he said adding that the lessons they learned from this experience are “lessons in life that they will never learn from mere books or classroom work.”


If I were still in College I would have loved this. (Does this apply to graduate dissertations, too?) But nothing’s in it for me now, and back then we earned (almost) every credit, so sorry, I have to be honest: This is too cheesy (Chizy?). Not to mention wrong in so many ways.

Some more affected and effective than others

Students were affected in varying degrees. Some were really hurt (almost drowned, got relocated, got leptospirosis), others were merely inconvenienced (couldn’t watch TV, couldn’t text, couldn’t Tweet).

In the same way, some students were more helpful than others. There were those who went to Payatas to get down and dirty. And then there were those who merely got down on their knees and prayed.

But whether they really got hurt or just hassled, worked or just wished, all students affected get the same sweet deal.

What about yesterday and tomorrow?

Way before Ondoy was even a low-pressure area, a lot of students had already been victims or volunteers. Can those who failed a course because of past typhoons get their grades upgraded retroactively?

And what about the six typhoons forecasted to affect students just as badly? Will they also get free passes? (Bonus Tip: When the global warming gets bad enough, move to Rizal. You can become an engineer, doctor, or lawyer just by surviving a series of storms.)

At least they’re enrolled

“How can a student go back to school and concentrate on their studies if they do not have shoes or even slippers to protect their feet from the floods?”

Let me get this straight: Students cannot go to school because they have no shoes; therefore, they must pass. By this logic, all homeless people must be given graduation certificates. After all, they’ve been incapacitated from going to school for a long time now, and for worse reasons than lack of slippers.

Lessons in life

“…the lessons they learned from this experience are “lessons in life that they will never learn from mere books or classroom work… the lessons that will be taught in helping their fellow Filipinos in need would last a whole life time. “

Sorry Chiz, it works both ways: the lessons students learn from a lecture hall or science lab can never be learned by swimming in floods or helping fellow Filipinos. How efficiently you pack rice and noodles and mineral water into a plastic bag has nothing to do with how well you program an application or perform heart surgery. Though maybe a pass in PE is reasonable (especially in Swimming 101).

Ethics 101: Ulterior Motives

He said that the purpose of giving passing grades to the students who have practically lost their school materials, houses, or even relatives is to be able to see the importance of helping others while helping themselves.

That didn’t sound right. Did he just say that there is importance in helping others while helping yourself? Sorry, I thought that helping others had intrinsic value. Apparently, you can help others, and help yourself to passing marks at the same time. Lesson learned, Teacher Chiz.

The children are our future

Knowing that they passed this grading period would make it easier for them to rise from the devastation brought by the floods.

Yes, that would take the pressure off going back to school. So would copying someone’s homework or cheating on an exam. But these quick fixes and free lunches are not the answer. There are no easy answers.

Senator Escudero’s intentions may be good — he just wanted to help the students somehow. But aside from basic necessities there’s little we need to give these students, especially the volunteers. Letting them grow through this adversity is enough. Don’t rob them of this chance not only to gain maturity, but to earn it.

DISCLAIMER: The opinions in this post do not necessarily represent the position of the Filipino Freethinkers.