Post Jul 14-20 2013 (updated)

TaN: Today (July 15) had this “strange” news article: “Overpopulation puts pressure on aquatic resources – expert”.  I consider it “strange” because it appears to have disregarded other more significant factors – like irresponsible (or environmentally unsustainable) fishing practices and the devastating impact of the influence of consumerism and of global free (not fair) trade – which exerts a much greater impact.  (I will elaborate on this next week.)

TaN: Last Saturday’s news titles: “Gov’t aims to cut poverty in half by 2016“, “Gov’t urged to stop helping convicted drug mules“, and “Bill vs no permit, no exam policy refiled” – remains to be seen and very ambitious, cruel but I agree, and should be included in the Magna Carta for Students.

First, to say that poverty will be cut in half assumes: (1) that the number of poor people will remain constant, at least, for the duration of the time the statement was made up to 2016; (2) that there is and everyone is aware of a standard definition of/for “poverty”; and, (3) that there is a fair and just way of determine exactly who are the “lucky” poor who will be recipients of the government effort and those in the other half who will not be benefited deserve not to be benefited or “left behind”.  This has the potential to be another argument for detractors to criticize “failures” of government to address poverty.

Second, I may be condemned for agreeing that assistance, in terms of absolving or working to release the “guilty” party from any or all offense or liability, is utterly unfair – especially in cases dealing with offenses that damage lives like drug trafficking.  If the government feels that the penalties in the foreign country is too harsh, the government must give an assurance that the expatriated offender shall be subject to the justice system of the home country.  A good compromise would be that the offender be tried under the justice system of the foreign country but the penalty shall be according to those of the home country and applying the maximum permissible punishment under the law, otherwise it would be tantamount to permitting a foreigner commit crimes in another country, harming their citizens and violating their law with impunity.  In the case of crimes such as drug trafficking, one must always consider the lives of the people harmed by the action of the offender, even if the effect is not direct or immediate.

Third, to avoid wasting precious legislative time and resources on laws that can easily be handled or enforced/implemented without need of a law, it must be done.  In the case of taking examinations, non-payment of the tuition fee should not be a hindrance because there are other avenues by which the institution can ensure that financial obligations are met, such as withholding of the grades until the said financial obligations have been satisfied.  There are so many more urgent matters that Congress has to attend to, lawmakers that file such bills such be “advised” to refrain from wasting time and resources and attend to the more urgent matters.  Other even more inane concerns are changing of names (like streets) and irrelevant or unenforceable laws.

With regard to the proper interpretation of the law, the judicial system should regularly use the rationale (the spirit) behind a law to guide them in their rulings else there will no recourse but to rely on the syntactical (the letter) of the law, which is often unfair and prejudicial to the more influential – i.e., closer relative, greater bribe, more authoritative, less hated, etc.

Finally, one law that is badly needed is to penalize filers of vexatious cases – not only for purposes of discouraging harassment from or by the powerful over the less fortunate but even to compensate the harassed for the anguish and inconvenience undergone.  At the present, after a vexatious case has been ruled to be without merit or consequence, the instigator of the case walks away as if nothing happened and the unfortunate recipient of the harassment is scarred and harmed.  I propose that not only should the instigator of vexatious cases be made to pay for all the expenses incurred in the case – both on his/her part but including on the part of the harassed as well as the courts time and resources which otherwise could have been devoted to more important cases – and further include serving time.  Moreover, a series of progressively escalating fines and incarceration time should be in place to mitigate future such adventures.

TaN: Since education is supposed to be both a right (basic education up to the secondary or high school level) and a privilege (tertiary and higher levels), global education should emulate the Finland model where private schools (if any) are only permitted at the tertiary level and higher.  Having private schools below the tertiary level not only violates the right to education but even creates an unnecessary and undue advantage for the financially capable and a corresponding elite sub-sector (in terms of quality of education).

In a democracy where everyone is entitled to the same basic rights and benefits, it is an injustice that education – considered by most as a fundamental equalizer, in terms of promoting equal opportunities – is not equally available to all (for basic education).  As in many of the “better-managed” countries, basic education should not only be available but uniform to everyone – enough to make us productive citizens and to be gainfully and decently employed and compensated.  And this is only possible when the citizenry is vigilant over what their rights are, knowledgeable in what government is obligated to provide, and ready to make all public officials and servants accountable and responsible for their decisions and actions.

As a right, education should provide the rudimentary knowledge and skillsets for everyone to be either make a decent livelihood or be gainfully employed in order to live a reasonably comfortable life.  As a privilege, it is up to the individual whether s/he would pursue higher education to either acquire additional and enhanced skills and knolwedge or remain where they are – because they are already satisfied with what they have or where they are.  Further, as a privilege, it is no longer necessary to provide a uniform quality of education since the minimum for a decent life has already been met.

What is important is that the basic education be made available to all not only for free (publcly funded) but uniformly applied.  This means that there is no need for any student to travel great distance beyond the nearest school to avail of his/her right.  Moreover, there should be nothing in the basic education system, especially if it is not related to the availment of education, that should be made compulsary – such as uniforms, “graduation” fees, and what-have-yous – that will discourage and obstruct the exercise of the right.

Finally, the emphasis should be on learning and not on passing tests – especially standardized ones – and committing errors during the course or in connection with learning should never be stigmatized but rather encouraged.  However, this is on the premise that the mistakes are results of efforts to learn and not anything else.  (I invite and encourage the viewing of the “lecture” of Sir Ken Robinson on education in TED.com: “Sir Ken Robinson schools kills creativity” and “How to escape education’s death valley“; and, read up on the Finland Phenomenon.)

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