Continuing the Dialogue


I forgot to comment on another important aspect that Ken touched upon on his article about his visit to Manila:

There are some significant cultural differences that this team faces in the Philippines. On a practical level, there is no system of community colleges, which have become a central resource for our members. I have not yet learned how Filipino homeschoolers might get an early head start on college the way that we promote in the United States. Also, The Philippines do not have a system of public libraries, a favorite and essential resource for many of us here. These two cultural institutions, community colleges and public libraries, are so central to our daily work that it takes a few minutes to contemplate how to proceed without them.

In his talks in Manila, Ken would always mention the system of community colleges, libraries and volunteering that make North Star and Liberated Learners centers in America doable, feasible and attractive.  This thought always ran in my head, “Well we don’t have those.  Tough luck.  Third world woes.”

If we offered the same center here in the Philippines, we would have to work with the existing context of a poorly developed social infrastructure.  We don’t have community colleges.  It’s not possible for high school students to get a head start and get college credits.  We don’t have a healthy system of public libraries.  Volunteer work is also not common practice although there are a lot of NGOs some of which work with volunteers.

That only means the work of Abot Tala would be more challenging but since we have existed without those structures mentioned by Ken, it also may be just fine.  No point wishful thinking.  You don’t know what you’re missing if you never had it anyway.

I’ve always been excited as I’m sure fellow bibliophile, Tinky is too, to set up a library within Abot Tala.  And even if we don’t have community colleges, I always thought the way Liberated Learners treated their members is as if they’re adults in college and offered classes much the same way in universities.  They can choose from a wider variety than the usual high school curriculum.

But what if there was a way to connect with universities and see if they would be open to taking high schoolers?  Would colleges balk and laugh at the idea?  Would there be a few who would embrace it?   Would it mean more work and hassle for them so no thank you, Ma’am?   We’ve asked the universe for many seemingly impossible requests for Abot Tala to come to fruition, it won’t hurt to ask for more mountains to be moved.

The attraction of community colleges is it’s affordability; some of them are even tuition-free.  Talk about first world country envy, Germany has a number of universities that are for free.  In the Philippines, there are so-called diploma mills where the quality of education may be questionable. The fight for affordable, quality education in this day and age, should not be as difficult as it was years ago since the world wide web has made more options available to many.  However, the quest for more accessibility and more opportunities will most likely remain constant.


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