Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day: Something on poverty

I promised to write something about poverty in connection with Blog Action Day. Blog Action Day is meant to unify bloggers all over the world to write an entry about a particular theme that will hopefully call the attention of the world in order to carry out some measures. Last year, I was told that its focus was on the environment; this year, it zeroes in on poverty.

I am writing this in advance since I’ll be off to a remote out-of-town spot and I may not be able to fulfill such commitment.

The main cause of poverty is complex. I recall that when I was in graduate school, one of the problematique analysis exercises we did was on poverty. Problematique analysis is like a mind map, a graphic organizer that lets us trace the root cause of a complicated problem. No, it does not provide solution to address the problem, but it offers us a great help in order to combat the very cause of the problem. Let me attach here the diagram I did seven years ago.

Casting a second look at this diagram made me realize more how education can be such a relevant tool in combating poverty. Please don’t think that it’s because I am coming from the academe (well, I used to) that I am biased for it. I think it’s rather practical to maximize education in combating poverty. There is so much possibility in returning to the “classrooms” and see what else we can do to enrich the teaching-learning experience of our young people. And I’m not just talking here of enriching the curricula of our students, but more importantly, we make sure that we teach the impact of values in building our nation, that we are all part of solution.

I gathered that one of the interventions of the Church in solving poverty is to educate people. Let me quote lengthily from the piece delivered by Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See's permanent observer at the United Nations at Geneva, to a session of the U.N. Economic and Social Council:

In particular, education is a long term economic investment for everyone, and health provides a durable character to that investment. An educated person can be fully aware of his/her worth and dignity and that of every human being and can act accordingly. The value of education goes beyond its relationship with health. Consider the most important feature of the person: being relational with others. Educated people can establish among themselves social relations not based on force and abuse but on respect and friendship. In such an environment, it is easier to reduce corruption, one of the plagues of poor countries, and to improve respect for law and property rights, crucial for the positive functioning of an economic system. This form of public-private partnership not only delivers services but it helps change mentality and disposition toward development without losing respect for local culture and tradition. Changing mentality at the local level becomes a winning strategy in the fight against poverty.

Cognizant of the value of education, I got curious about the stance of the government regarding poverty. And I was pleased to know that of the proposed P1.415-trillion national budget for 2009, the top 10 agencies which would get the bigger chunk are as follows:

1. Department of Education (DepEd), P167.9 billion

  1. Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), P120 billion
  2. Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), P61.9 billion
  3. Department of National Defense (DND), P61.5 billion
  4. Department of Agriculture (DA), P39.7 billion
  5. Department of Health (DOH), P27.8 billion
  6. Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), P23.6 billion
  7. Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), P16.1 billion
  8. Department of Finance (DOF), P13.8 billion
  9. Judiciary, P12.8 billion

Source: PCIJ

I hope that our civil servants will spend appropriately the amount for the projects that will uplift the life of the Filipino poor and that will promote the common good. If it does not happen?

I’ll be happy to start blogging about corruption.