Higher Learning, & Learning to get Hired

Main Building facade University of Santo Tomas UST Dominican Philippines

Photo Credit: Mark Joseph C. Olmedo

The University of Santo Tomas is Asia’s first and oldest university, and I am proud that it’s in the Philippines.   I have also mentioned another special university in the Philippines beforeSilliman University.  And last week, I discussed the contributions of the International Rice Research Institute, which is located in the University of the Philippines Los Baños, Laguna province.

UPLB was originally established as the University of the Philippines College of Agriculture (UPCA) on March 6, 1909, by the UP Board of RegentsEdwin Copeland, an American botanist and Thomasite from the Philippine Normal College in Manila, served as its first dean.  Classes began in June 1909 with five professors, and 12 students initially enrolled in the program.  The Forestry School was established a year later.

During the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, UPCA was closed and the campus converted into an internment camp for allied nationals and a headquarters of the Japanese army.  For three years, the college was home to more than 2,000 civilians, mostly Americans, that were captured by the Japanese.  In 1945, as part of the liberation of the Philippines, the US Army sent 130 11th Airborne Division paratroopers to Los Baños to rescue the internees.  Only four paratroopers and two Filipino guerrillas were killed in the raid.  However, Japanese reinforcements arrived two days later, destroying UPCA facilities and killing some 1,500 Filipino civilians in Los Baños soon afterwards.

UPCA became the first unit of the University of the Philippines to open after the war when it resumed classes on July 25, 1945, with Leopoldo Uichangco as dean.  However, only 125 (16 percent) of the original students enrolled. It was even worse for the School of Forestry, which only had nine students. Likewise, only 38 professors returned to teach.  UPCA used its 470,546 (US$10,800) share in the Philippine-US War Damage Funds (released in 1947) for reconstruction.

Further financial endowments from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Mutual Security Agency (MSA) allowed the construction of new facilities, while scholarship grants, mainly from the Rockefeller Foundation and the International Cooperation Administration, helped fund training of UPCA faculty.  From 1947 to 1958, a total of 146 faculty members had been granted MS and PhD scholarships in US universities.

International Rice Research Institute University of the Philippines Los Banos Laguna Philippines

Photo Credit: Abrahamdsl

I find these universities inspiring, especially the research of Silliman University and UPLB.

If their achievements prove what learning can accomplish, do college graduates continue this process of learning?

I actually realized only 4 years ago, that I can continue studying my interests, and even note-taking.  Yes it takes time, but it’s totally worth it —  I recommend at least 30 minutes of book reading every weekday, which excludes newspaper reading time.

Now why would a college graduate stop the habit of study/reading?  Is college simply a means for employment?  How many college graduates are unemployed/underemployed?

I have always wanted to go college and I did (I also dropped out).  But like many, I was raised on the belief that life was as simple as elementary-high school-college-job which is totally untrue.  I can’t help but wish that someone would have been real with me and said, “No, it’s not that simple.”

I still love college and the whole college experience (which is really the big draw) and would love to study many things in the university.  But can’t we get real with students and say life isn’t as simple as elementary-high school-college-job?

Medieval study manuscriptSo I also believe in a system that promotes skills training — like Germany’s:

Vocational training in the Federal Republic of Germany is provided on the job and in vocational training schools.  Based on what is referred to as the dual system, practical vocational training is given at work, backed up by theoretical training and general education provided in vocational training schools which are generally attended on one or two days a week.

The characteristic feature of this system is that the provision of knowledge and skills is linked to acquiring the necessary job experience.  This ensures that training will proceed under the same conditions that the trainee will encounter when practicing his chosen occupation.  Only on the job will a trainee be able to learn to cope with the constantly-changing demands of the job and to appreciate the variety of social relationships that exist in the work environment.  In addition, learning by doing gives a sense of achievement and provides a special source of motivation for the trainee.  It promotes independence and a sense of responsibility, which are indispensable qualities in a developed industrial country, because by tackling concrete tasks under real working conditions the trainee can show evidence of the knowledge and skills he has acquired and can himself experience the success of his efforts.  This shows that training on the job is more than just a process of institutionalized and organized learning.

Although it’s not a perfect system, just the thought that I could learn a new skill that could help me work makes me want to learn as much as I can.  Even with a university degree, we can still learn new job skills.

job training course professional development skills room (2)

Photo Credit: United States Navy




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