Friday, August 17, 2018

Missing The Point

REMEMBER THE SEVENTIES when aspiring Pinoy high school seniors had to tackle the NCEE to apply for college admission? As Sara prepares for the SAT, I exhumed this score report sent from the archives of the registrar of Ateneo de Manila University, where I spent my first two years of college before transferring to UP College Manila and eventually Diliman. I am sure that the test score helped me get that "for-needy-but-deserving-students" Ateneo Scholarship Foundation free tuition and residence at Cervini Hall (answering phone calls on some nights and weekends and relaying messages to dorm residents via intercom), until I had to leave the university as I suffered my promdi soul-searching in my junior year (See "One Hundred Years of Universitihood"). The NCEE was abolished in 1994 by, surprisingly, former president Fidel Ramos, who signed Republic Act 7731 to repeal an earlier presidential order that created it, prohibiting colleges and universities from denying admission to high school graduates who failed the nationwide test. Recently (and I think sensibly) however, there have been discussions to re-administer the NCEE, "to control the influx of undeserving students who flock to state-subsidized universities and colleges". Mona Valisno, who had rendered respectable service as Department of Education secretary in previous administrations, noted that re-implementing the NCEE would allow higher education institutions to accommodate more poor but deserving students, and observed that during her term, students who came from the "poorest of the poor” obtained 98 percent and above in the NCEE. I agree. And I think needy and gifted Pinoy students are inherently and independently studious, requiring no classes (unlike in the US) to prepare for these tests. Maybe the NCEE's return will have busy, hard-working Pinoy parents of talented children worrying less about college applications, as this credential will help their kids fend for themselves as they tackle academic frontiers beyond high school. Bringing the NCEE back, however, will require approval of the Congress as it has already been abolished by law.

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