The Death of a Profession: Insult and Truth

So this is what you get when you’re the last one to know stuff. Posted almost a week ago, this embedded video of Cynthia Villar—who is currently gunning for a Senate seat this year—explaining her decision as to why she allowed the operation of 23 subpar nursing schools bares heck in 2004 against the CHEd’s recommendations that they be closed down is the latest thing to hit my feeds this morning. If you haven’t seen it yet, then skip to the 3:14 mark… unless you want the full setup leading to the oft-quoted… err, “quote” (yep, just like a punchline), then better watch the whole thing.

To be sure, the outrage against her statement was pretty well-deserved. Like Pacquiao before her, she insulted a whole bloc of voters in this country without meaning to just because she dared to express her opinion; in this case, she thought of nurses as nothing more than—if we have to be truthful about it—glorified atsays. And the floodgates of comments which have been prompted by her remarks include many like these. A sampling, if you will:

Disgusting. If they dont really want to be a NURSE, then they should had taken care giver course instead. How on earth philippines has this kind of committee chairperson who DOESN’T really know the DIFFERENCE between QUALITY education and BUSINESS! Damn. I bet she has one of those UNQUALIFIED schools that needs to be doomed for shame and producing INCOMPETENT ALUMNI. Shame!

Bka Manalo yan MADAMI PERA, PERA nsa utak e at panu t0tubo ang pera nya at mangungurak0t lng sa kaban bayan, ayan wla na matin0ng masabi kundi kab0b0han, Mrs.VILLAR hnd bagay yan sa Maupo sa senado..bagay jan REALSTATE AGENT.HEHE.

There are two things very similar to the comments above and that of Villar’s. Basically, it summarizes the state of national education as determined by class, corporations, and the eventual need for “pangra-raket”. If you’ve been a college graduate for the past few years, then you’re probably privy to these scenarios by now.

Villar is a businesswoman; it only follows that she’ll be devoted to maximizing profits in the easiest way possible. Of course, she pitied the private nursing schools because she feels it’s a waste of their “investments” if the government suddenly decides to close them down, stockholders be damned. And it is with her actions which may have contributed the nursing glut that all of us here are familiar today. Yes, she may have saved a couple of businesses. But at what cost?

Think about this: the quality of your education is tantamount to the amount of money you’re paying for your it. Once you get to graduate, you then realize that your chosen field is crowded enough as it is. Maybe you don’t have the proper job skills for it, maybe you didn’t bother to make friends with the higher-ups—it doesn’t matter. All you know is that you’re screwed unless you get a job ASAP.

You may then ask for huge sum of money to apply for a six-month student visa. Or you enroll in a caregiver course because the poster says you can “go to the USA” in six months. Barring that, you may have to force yourself to speak in a twang-y American accent in the event that you may be compelled to take that dreaded call center job that so many job fairs seem to have a surplus of. But you cannot even finish a single English statement without falling over yourself, so you just resign yourself to selling property that you’re not even convinced is worth the 80,000 pesos some fool is willing to shell out cash for. Or you just go into MLM. Or selling product catalogues.

You probably get the idea by now.

You may know a couple of the people I have mentioned above. For me, I know dozens of them. And I constantly fear for them because they’re almost like the exact description of wasted youth that the Sex Pistols were glorifying when they kept screaming “No Future” over and over again from Thatcher-era England.

This is what education has devolved to now, isn’t it? Just an emphasis on skills, but no substance to back it up. This is what Villar’s point is, no matter how erroneous she put it: who needs learning when you’ve got a job?

It’s new-generation cynicism at its worst. And thanks to this, a whole industry has suffered for it since. From those 23 schools nine years ago, the list has since ballooned to involve countless regions. Basing from an independent report GMA carried out in 2009 (divided into Parts One and Two, which is a recommended read if you have the time), it was during that year that the list seems to have peaked. And you know what they say about that kind of cycle, right?

While there is no data to support this yet, it’s quite obvious that enrollment have crashed in the years prior: stories about the anemically low number of enrollees signing up for nursing have been circulating in the lead-up months to June which, in turn, led to the laying-off of several instructors—most of whom were even very eager to go into academia and research in the first place—from local colleges and even review centers. Remember the days when attending a single session on a Pharmacology review can feel like a rock concert (only without the moshpits, of course) because of the insane number of reviewees packing it to the rafters? Well, they’re all gone save for a few hundred students now.

For a profession used to being the center of attention for over a decade—even when some are not for the right reasons—this can be really fucking depressing for ‘em.

Kapit sa patalim. Biting the bullet. We may have been so inured to years of seeing poverty being a part of pop culture that some of us have even come to accept it. If you’re just a part of the rank-and-file bourgeoisie, then  why would you think otherwise? That may be what Villar was suggesting when she made those statements: a rewarding professional career is nothing if you don’t earn a crapload of cash. Yes, that may be a “practical” message, but it’s still a terrible one to make, particularly if you’re looking to endear yourself to as many people as possible.

So what can one do about it? As is always the case, there’s no clear-cut solution to it. This isn’t just about the integrity of nursing at stake here; for every new sets of teachers, policemen, and every other professionals we get ever year, there are one or two persons who believe in what they do. It’s not so much a matter of them looking to reinvent the system but, rather, contributing to what was handed down to them. You just don’t go in to temper their enthusiasm by saying, “What’s the point? All you do is wipe shit anyway.”

Villar’s thinking is a product of wide misconception as it is of years of bungled administrative mismanagement. So, can we all remedy it by just doing our jobs passionately?

Well, that may take a long time… but at least that’s a start.

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