Diplomas are mean­ing­less

Sun Star Bacolod - - Opinion -


ANY parents dream of hav­ing their chil­dren fin­ish col­lege. They endure hours of prepa­ra­tion and wait­ing for that brief few sec­onds when their child goes on­stage and re­ceives their di­ploma, and takes a bow.

That pre­cious di­ploma — in many fam­i­lies it a relic of pride, of­ten lam­i­nated or framed and hung on a wall. It sup­pos­edly cer­ti­fies a per­son’s com­pe­tence and qual­i­fi­ca­tion for a job in their field.

When I came back home al­most 10 years ago to get in­volved in our fam­ily busi­ness, one of the first things I did was to go over our em­ployee ap­pli­ca­tion process. My dad had long ago de­signed a test for ap­pli­cants to take which in­volved ba­sic arith­metic — adding long rows of num­bers, sub­trac­tion, mul­ti­ply­ing by 3 dig­its, di­vi­sion, etc. I re­mem­ber he made me take that same test when I was just a kid dragged to the of­fice and be­ing bored to tears.

I thought that test was no longer ap­pli­ca­ble. Who adds rows of num­bers by hand any­way? And why would there be a need for that when cal­cu­la­tors and com­put­ers can do the job faster and with bet­ter ac­cu­racy?

So I wrote a new set of tests. In my mind, it was sim­ple and would sim­ply serve as a sim­ple base­line check of the skills of the ap­pli­cants. Any col­lege grad­u­ate ought to be able to pass the test, thought. Heck, even an el­e­men­tary grad­u­ate ought to pass the test.

The first part con­sisted of hav­ing around 5 words per number and all the per­son had to do was ar­range those words in al­pha­bet­i­cal or­der.

This had a prac­ti­cal ap­pli­ca­tion. We run a re­tail drug­store and one of the tasks of the em­ployee was to ar­range some prod­ucts in al­pha­bet­i­cal is I or­der.

The sec­ond part con­sisted of ba­sic arith­metic. John buys 3 tablets of brand X at 3.25 per tablet. How much does he have to pay? He gives you 20 pe­sos. How much is his change? Noth­ing harder than that — just real-life fig­ures with real-life ex­am­ples.

We used to re­quire that our ap­pli­cants be col­lege grad­u­ates, so over the years, we’ve had hun­dreds of peo­ple with diplomas tak­ing that test and the re­sults are dis­mal — more than half of those failed.

What does it mean when hun­dreds of col­lege grad­u­ates can’t pass a sim­ple test con­sist­ing of items that I would have en­coun­tered when I was in sixth grade? What does that piece of paper mean then?

Th­ese days, we no longer re­quire that our ap­pli­cants be col­lege grad­u­ates. They come, they get trained, and what makes them suc­ceed will be their at­ti­tude, their will­ing­ness to learn, and their abil­ity to as­sess sit­u­a­tions and solve prob­lems that come their way.

If they per­form and if they are up to the task, don’t even need to know what that piece of paper says and I don’t need to see their tran­script nor their grades.

In the busi­ness world, only re­sults mat­ter.* I L

OST in the brouhaha over the re­lease of thou­sands of con­victs by the Bureau of Correction (Bucor) of­fi­cials led by then Bucor Chief Ni­canor Fael­don and his shame­less at­tempt to re­lease for­mer Calauan mayor An­to­nio Sanchez which was pre­vented by pub­lic out­rage, was the fifth of­fi­cial visit of Pres­i­dent Duterte to China.

Days be­fore Pres­i­dent Duterte’s most re­cent trip to China, his sub­al­terns an­nounced that the time has come for him to raise the coun­try’s le­gal vic­tory at the Per­ma­nent Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion in the Hague in his meet­ing with Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping. This was con­firmed by the Pres­i­dent in a speech be­fore the Filipino-chi­nese busi­ness­men.

The Filipinos, there­fore, had ev­ery rea­son to hope that at long last, Pres­i­dent Duterte in his meet­ing with Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping in Bei­jing would raise the coun­try’s le­gal vic­tory in the Hague. Dur­ing such dis­cus­sion, China’s base­less claim to the West Philip­pine Sea, its mil­i­ta­riza­tion of seized is­lands and re­peated in­tru­sions into our coun­try’s ex­clu­sive eco­nomic zone would be raised. But our hopes turned into a na­tional dis­ap­point­ment. Not only was the Hague rul­ing fleet­ingly dis­cussed, our Pres­i­dent was said to be apologetic to his Chi­nese host.

Ac­cord­ing to Pres­i­dent Duterte’s spokesper­son: “The Pres­i­dent said, “I didn’t want to alarm you with what I’m about to raise be­cause of your prob­lem in Hongkong, which is why I’m ask­ing for for­give­ness but I need to say this be­cause I promised my coun­try­men.”

What we can­not un­der­stand is why Duterte should be the one who would ask for­give­ness in­stead of the Chi­nese Pres­i­dent whose coun­try re­peat­edly vi­o­lated our sov­er­eign rights with its count­less in­tru­sions into the Philip­pine waters, the ha­rass­ment of Filipino fish­er­men, the nu­mer­ous tres­pass­ing of its war­ships into our mar­itime zone and count­less acts of bul­ly­ing an ob­se­quious neigh­bor.

If Pres­i­dent Duterte was not se­ri­ous in his prom­ise to the Filipino peo­ple that he would raise the coun­try’s le­gal vic­tory at the Hague, what then was his pur­pose in hav­ing a fifth of­fi­cial visit to China? The rules of trans­parency de­mand that the Philip­pine gov­ern­ment must en­lighten its peo­ple on the fol­low­ing cru­cial ques­tions:

How much did the tax­pay­ers spend in the lat­est Duterte pil­grim­age to pay obei­sance to a for­eign power?

If loans were se­cured from China, how much was in­curred and how much is the in­ter­est? Why do we pre­fer loans from China rather than from Ja­pan where the in­ter­ests are much lower?

If in­vest­ments were promised by Chi­nese busi­ness­men, will th­ese not af­fect our en­vi­ron­ment and not prej­u­di­cial to the rights of indige­nous peo­ples?

And here is the most im­por­tant ques­tion. Why is Duterte so def­er­en­tial and sub­mis­sive to China? Bor­row­ing the words of PDI colum­nist Joel Ruiz Bu­tuyan, “What se­crets does China hold against our Pres­i­dent that he treats it with the kind of rev­er­ence he doesn’t even ac­cord to God?”

(By Dem­ocrito C. Barce­nas)

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