Chin Wong has a blog post about a site offering and campaigning for free text books. The idea is really a novel one (pun intended ;P ) wherein it spouts a utopian scenario that teachers and knowledgeable scribes contribute in evolving the textbook contents. I am however skeptical if it would be applicable here in the Philippines.

Face it, all schools offering academic teaching below the collegiate level makes a killing out of book and supplies sales. What else can explain the sudden surge for workbooks wherein it requires the students to rip out pages for submission?

A decade or so ago ripping books is considered a sacrilegious activity. Anybody doing it is labeled as an ignorant vandal who doesn’t understand the value of the knowledge printed in the pages they are destroying. Books are something that is cared for and passed on to a younger sibling or to the child of the neighbor who would be using them again in their quest of enlightenment (or that elusive diploma). As a self-professed voracious reader and book lover, I almost cried when I opened my niece’s workbook from a previously concluded school year. It looked like a middle-aged person raped violently by a ward of death-row convicts.

Then there is the sudden upsurge in the practice of selling school supplies with official schools seals. The problem is that these cost double than what it would normally sell in the free market. School officials argue that the latter promotes equality among its students because nobody uses luxurious items like high-end ballpoint pens and notebooks with high-substance paper. If that is the case then why the high price point? If printing the official seal doubles the price then why not just pick a standard supplier for the materials and enforce that, or subsidize the materials themselves. Why can’t those materials be considered as the norm but still allow students to use the cost-effective Panda ballpen?

I think it is the older man in me talking but the academe circles has degraded to the point that we now have schools being ran as businesses first and learning institutions second.