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The other ‘free’ education

By: Senator Manny Villar

Congratulations to Congress and the executive branch for the passage of the law providing free education in all state universities and colleges (SUCs). While lawmakers still need to scour the national budget to fund this law, there is no doubt that it would have a tremendous impact on the future of our country.

We all know how important education is to national development. Accessible, quality education can help unleash the energies and creativity of our people towards not only improving their lives but also contributing to national progress.

This is a major breakthrough. No Filipino, from this moment forward, will be denied the chance to learn simply because of poverty.

While I applaud this new development in providing access to formal tertiary education for our youth, let us not forget that learning is not limited to the four corners of the classroom. This is what I call the other kind of education that is also “free”. No tuition required. All you need is a keen sense of observation and willingness to learn from what you see around you and what people around you are saying and doing.

Remember that what we learn in life is a combination of what we learned in school, what is taught to us by our parents and what we absorb from our life experiences. The intelligent person is someone who can make sense of all these learning and think for himself.

Most of our learning in fact do not come from institution of learning but in what is popularly known as the University of Hard Knocks – that is to say learning from life’s painful experience..For example, I am a proud graduate of the prestigious College of Business Administration of the University of the Philippines. And I learned a great deal from my distinguished professors – the concepts, processes, and skills in managing a business.

But most of you who are familiar with my life would know that even before I entered the campus of the University of the Philippines, I was already enrolled in the University of Hard Knocks. I value the knowledge I gained from UP which complemented perfectly with what I learned from my mother who taught me what entrepreneurship was all about.

In the classroom, I was taught the process of managing every aspect of a business so it can run, expand, grow and succeed.

When I was younger, I would walk with Nanay Curing after midnight from our house in Tondo to sell shrimps and fish in Divisoria. I learned about the importance of hard work from helping my mother set up our shrimp stall early in the morning while most souls are still asleep.

In UP, I was taught the most recent theories in business administration and management. But I learned perseverance from watching my mother patiently join the auction in the market in order to buy fish and shrimp we could sell. Nanay did this everyday.

She did not miss a single market day even during the holidays.

At the College of Business Administration, I was introduced to sophisticated processes of keeping records, financial management and the like. But it was my mother who instilled in me the idea of honest and quality service to clients.

“Boy, huwag na huwag dadayain ang mga mamimili,” Nanay Curing would always tell me. Right there and then, I knew that I can earn a living without causing pain to other people.

People often ask me if entrepreneurship can be taught. My answer is no. Entrepreneurship is learned. What I mean by this is that while you can read books and articles about how to become a good entrepreneur, at the end of the day, it is your experience and the values developed through those experiences that will guide you in managing your business, big or small.

The late Steve Jobs once said, “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” The values of perseverance, hard work, honesty, excellence and compassion cannot be developed by sitting in a classroom listening to lectures rather it becomes part of you because you have lived it.

I welcome the law providing free formal tertiary education at SUCs. I just hope that our youth can experience a more holistic education that combines what they learn in school with the lessons from their parents and life.

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(For comments/feedback email to:mbv.secretariat@gmail or visit www.mmannyvillar.com.ph.)