Aquino to students: Open your books, not your Facebook
This advice to students at Tarlac National High School comes from one who used to be chided for playing PSP (PlayStation Portable) at work: President Benigno Aquino III himself, who inspected the school’s new buildings on Friday.
“Let’s open our books before our Facebook accounts,” Mr. Aquino said, drawing laughter. “Let’s finish our assignments before making a raid in the Clash of Clans,” he added, referring to the online combat game pitting players from around the world in real time.
“You’ve probably heard this a number of times from your parents, but this one is from the President of the Philippines: Study hard,” the President told the students inside the high school’s gymnasium.
From Malolos, Bulacan province, President Aquino proceeded to this city to inspect the new school buildings built with funds from Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor).
“We’re doing the best we can to give you a better start than what we had. I guess it’s not too much to say you will go far,” Mr. Aquino told his young audience, adding that they should not only choose the right leader but train to become experts in their own field.
“(As such), you will be better as a defender of what is right, vanguard of what is true, and protector of the interests of many,” the President said in his speech.
By doing so, the students would bring honor not only for themselves, but for the country as well, Mr. Aquino said.
The school building project had cost at least P7 billion, and will have 4,500 classrooms, of which 1,124 have been completed. Pagcor has allotted P10 billion for the school building project across the country that will include typhoon-resilient classrooms.
The President said he was doubly excited to visit his home province to see for himself how the education sector had improved during his administration.
When he came onboard nearly five years ago, Mr. Aquino said the government faced a backlog of 61.7 million textbooks, 2.5 million school desks, 66,800 classrooms and an inadequate number of teachers.
Back then, the Department of Education and the Department of Budget and Management estimated that the national budget had allowed the construction of only 8,000 classrooms a year, or 48,000 classrooms in six years.
But by adopting good governance, and thanks to the efficiency of education and public works officials, as well as contributions from Pagcor to the private sector under the private-public partnership program, the government managed to address the backlog in half that time, Mr. Aquino said.
No gimmick or magic
“It’s clear; we’re able to surpass these huge challenges without resorting to gimmick and magic,” he said. “We strove hard to lay out the reforms. As the economy grew, we were given the opportunity to raise more funds, and the capacity to address the shortcomings in this sector,” he added.
“Any transformation that we’re witnessing is proof of our goal: That we leave the Philippines in a better state than what we stumbled into,” President Aquino said.
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