Educated vs. Professional

July 6th, 2012 · No Comments


Filipinos put an enormous amount of importance on education.  Parents would sell everything and anything to put their children through school to obtain the much coveted diploma.  We go through the first degree, then move on to the second and then a third.  Three degrees and they waddle off like they’ve swallowed the encyclopedia.  It makes me wonder if there’s a temperature drop or they’ve joined the singing group, the Three Degrees.  But of course, it doesn’t stop there.  There’s more to attain.  There are the masters and the doctorate degrees so they can feel even more respectable and elated demanding that everyone call them “doctor” and affix the appropriate letters after their name.

But look around at what they have attained academically and what job they’ve landed.  It doesn’t seem proportionate to the amount of tuition they have expended nor does it show.   So what’s missing?

To us Filipinos, a diploma is the sure passport to better life – a change of social status – better living standards.  It is the ultimate chance to escape the grueling hardships endured, a sure answer to move up the ladder.   The utmost significance of a diploma is perhaps one of the reasons why so many fake their credentials and schools, if only to achieve a more respectable status.

Although I am a believer that success is dependent on the person and not the school, I also dare say that there is a big difference in schools in the Philippines and the standards of education.  That is a fact.  It is a reality.

After all, the better the school the higher the tuition, and as such schools are able to pay higher salaries to teachers and have better facilities, like libraries,  speech and diction laboratories.  Schools run by nuns and priests have more stringent rules for discipline and provide a more rounded education.  They have extra-curricular activities which provide students with more opportunities to develop and evolve as contributing citizens to society. What’s more, it provides students with social skills and graces.

But after the degree, then what? Does that mean we are educated?  Have we really learned?  For some, classrooms are simply a memory crunching game and their diploma simply shows that they have the capacity to memorize.  Sure, they graduate but are unable to apply what they have learned.  Education is a lifelong process and what happens once we’ve left the comforts of the classrooms and the nurturing teachers is entirely up to the individual.   What happens when memory flickers and fails to remember equations and dates that are of no relevance in everyday life?  Sadly most are ill equipped with life’s survival tools and social graces.  Some have no concept of the cognitive process.

Then there’s that other word that keeps popping up around the social scenes.  The Professional.  Question some about their decisions and actions and they are quick to retort “I am a professional.”  (Which is short of saying, how dare you question me!)  And that is this very attitude that proves they are not.

If the dictionary defines a profession as a vocation; a career, then it follows that those who pursue a career path, who graduated are automatically called professionals.  For some, the term professional only applies to white collar jobs, and limited to those in managerial positions.  Then of course there are certain professions which are mandated by a regulatory body and as such deserve to be called professionals. They passed the test.  There are those who believe that getting paid automatically means you are categorized as a professional. But there’s a mile of difference between a degree holder, being educated and being a true professional.

A true professional is a total package that combines the right set of industry skills, experience and the right attitude.  It is a process punctuated by discipline, organized thinking, correct timing plus good manners and right conduct.  And judging by those around us, I hate to say it, but there are very few around or they aren’t visible.  Some are simply playing the game of let’s pretend.

I heard someone say that you don’t need a degree to do community service.  Perhaps not.  But it surely would depend on what it is they are doing.  If they are simply filling seats or selling raffle tickets to fundraise – yes, by all means. But as a leader, sorry but an education is a must.  Better still – a professional is warranted!


Tags: Grey Matter