Separate State from Education!
Since I’m advocating the privatization of all public schools, colleges, and universities, I know many of you might be thinking: how about the primary and secondary school students? What will happen to them if their parents couldn’t afford to pay for their school fees?
I have stated several times that privatization of ALL public schools, colleges, and universities is NOT the first reform. It would be economically, socially, and politically dangerous to execute an abrupt, unplanned privatization of all public SUCs without addressing first other government areas that could be subject of the ‘initial reform process’ so as not to cause damage to the economy. I’m not an economist, but I think that the first wave of reforms must start within the government. Depending upon how government officials and lawmakers weigh things out, they may start with the most burdensome, high-spending government agencies, corporations, and other state instrumentalities, particularly the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR). The fundamental process is to revise the 1987 Constitution in order to establish a Republican-federal government, the role of which is purely limited by the fundamental law of the land.
The only proper role of the government is to protect individual rights. That is, 1) to protect individual from violation of contracts and fraud and to settle disputes through the establishment of effective law courts; 2) to protect our country against internal threat and invasion through building a formidable military; and to protect individuals against criminals through establishing a reliable police force. These are the only proper role of the government of a free society.The primary function of the Constitution of a new Republican government, on the other hand, is to limit the powers of the government and its agents. All government powers and those of its agents must only be limited to the protection of individual rights.
Under a new Republican government, no one or no group has the right to ask or corner government favors, protection, or subsidy. And under this new government, there must be total, complete separation of state and church, of state and education, and of state and economy. Since the government holds a legal monopoly on the use of physical force, its powers must be purely limited by law.As already stated, privatization process may start with the non-performing and incompetent government-owned and controlled (GOCCs) corporations. What I’m saying is that the road to free-market capitalism must be gradually cleared by means of limiting the scope and functions of the government. This process can be achieved by privatizing the GOCCs and other government agencies and instrumentalities. This, I believe, must be the first step toward free-market capitalism.
Why is it important to embark on aforementioned said initial step? It’s because the government must avoid increasing tax rates and levying new taxes, and that it must earn more revenues through privatization and by cutting government spending and subsidies. I believe this is very important in order not to hurt the economy and not to turn to the taxpayers or foreign creditors for revenues.
However, privatizing government corporations and agencies is not everything. The government must secure economic freedom, which is the most important thing, and lower tax rates by half or more, if necessary, in order to attract more foreign and domestic investors. The government must also repeal all intrusive and anti-business laws and, most importantly, refrain from enacting an antitrust law or any legislation that could impede or affect business activities and innovation, as well as the flow of human capital, of financial capital, of intellectual capital, and of investment into the country’s economy. The government, through the president, must also cut tariff and duties on import and export activities. Once the economy is established, tariff and duties on imports and exports must be cut altogether. This is because tariff on imports hurts the domestic economy and the purchasing power of the people. Establishing a sound monetary system is also needed and such must be anchored on the economy.
The purpose of these stages is to guarantee economic stability, more employment and more investment. However, throughout this process, the government may start cutting public education by selling a number of public SUCs, and limiting the duties and responsibilities of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Department of Education (DepEd). The privatization of all public SUCs must be a gradual process, which might take several years.
What will happen during the post-privatization process? Both the CHED and the DeEd must be abolished. These two government agencies only impose impediments on the private schools. Government bureaucrats and educators are no better than private educators when it comes to running private schools. Private schools should be left alone, and they have the sole prerogative and discretion as to what method of instruction to apply, what school facilities to acquire, what kind of research program to establish, among others. The government may only interfere when there’s a violation of rights. This is why the government must secure an impartial, incorruptible court system in order to protect the rights of every citizen.
Others might also ask: What about the cost of education? Under a free-market economy, competition would force all private players to lower the cost of their education. Competition would also guarantee innovation, productiveness, better method of instruction, better research, improved school facilities, more scholarship grants to deserving students, among others. Just look at the cost of cellphones, computers, and phone or text cards that we have today. Because of competition, the top three telecommunication companies- Globe, Smart, Sun- were forced to lower the price of their products and services. Before, we had to buy P300 worth of prepaid card before we could text or call our loved ones. Today there are now a lot of promotional campaigns that allow us to choose among all telecom players in the country and buy telecom products at a very low price. Before, the cost of cellular phones ranged from P10,000 to P30,000. Today depending upon your choice, you could buy a cellphone worth P3,000 or more in spite of inflation. If you want a good cellphone, you could have iphone 4 for over P30,000. In a free society we are free to choose.
Furthermore, in a fully privatized economy there would be more private companies and corporations to offer scholarship grants to poor yet deserving students. This means that the government doesn’t have to shoulder the schooling of poor children. The Western concept of “corporate social responsibility” would also somehow compel private corporations and companies to embark on private charity to help poor children and poor people. This is what is happening in most highly developed country. Most importantly, the essence of privatization of education is the free-market of ideas. Private schools are free to embark on scientific and technological research in order to boost their image, to attract more students, and to establish partnerships with private firms. If a certain school or university failed to perform its job, it would cease to exist. Only those better performing schools would continue to survive. This may sound harsh but in reality, competition encourages innovation and productivity. If we allow the non-performing schools to flourish by giving them government subsidies, it would have a negative impact on the people and on the economy, as this knee-jerk scheme would only encourage these incompetent schools not to innovate and, most importantly, it would also affect the performance of the students.
The fundamental pillar of a free-market society is the existence of an objective law. It means a set of law that would objectively and uniformly apply to all citizens living within our territory. In a free society, all laws must be objective so that we may know clearly what these laws forbid us to do, what constitutes a crime committed or not yet committed and what penalty would be imposed if a particular crime were committed. This is to prevent the rise of anarchism and to discourage disgruntled individuals from turning to the left.
Freedom in education means freedom for everybody. This is the kind of freedom we need, not the monstrous concept of “right to education.”