EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM: QUALITY VS. STATISTICS
“Education is a person’s right,” says our Constitution in Article 67 and it clarifies that it is a State obligation to ensure education for all, specifically quality. However, as many other laws that appear in the National Constitution, this one has been remained on paper and taking a look over the reality, we find that its implementation is not adequate. Colombia is a country looking for development and progress, but this only may be achieved through the education of its people. If we want to keep up with the big countries, we should start by asking: do we have an educational system that truly meets the needs of the country? Whenever we talk about education, undoubtedly, we have to focus on quality this has, because it is to be the main objective in most of educational systems. Moreover, it cannot be otherwise, education is “a public service that has a social function” (Art 67) says our Constitution and as a service it must meet a certain level of quality. However, it is enough just with a quick look at different public academic spaces in the country to realize that the Government has not understood the real concept of quality. This one has being defined by different factors such as coverage, teachers’ preparation, relevance of content among others, which influence education guarantying, or not, its quality, which we are going to address in this essay. Taking into account that the main responsible for education is the State, it is relevant to look at how the system of education is applied in public schools where the greatest weakness of our education lays and how we as teacher can face the problems that our system has.
Currently, Government has confused quality with coverage, and it believes that having more than 100,000 seats it ensures better education and it is not. The coverage is nothing without quality; sometimes coverage is represented just by empty statistics which are not transcendental in education. Quality goes much further, and it is something that the more than 200,000 students who drop out demand. That is why, it is important to ensure the right to education that all Colombians have, but this one cannot be a superfluous education, it must be an agent of change in people, so that they have the same function in society (Vasco, 2006). An education without sufficient quality will not motivate students and their families to make an effort to stay in it. It’s not simply about filling seats or having high numbers of open quota. In this way, the desire by getting high coverage percents has been turned into a challenge for teachers who must face classrooms with more than 40 students, which implies forty different realities they have to deal with. (Martínez & Salazar, 2013) This, undeniably, is a principal issue that affects the right development of a teacher’s functions.
Students demand quality, they require an education that really influences their life; education as a Colombian’s right and service must give solution to the Colombian reality. In the last one, families with economical needs, low resources where a minimum wage is not enough to cover certain responsibilities different from the academic ones; those families are the ones that must be included in public education. In this context is where the education has to be found; this one should attend student´s necessities, it should give them tools in order to face the reality they are living. ¿What kind of profit may a high school student find by studying Pablo Neruda poems’ metric, when his mother has been discharged and they do not have anything to take breakfast? It is not about repelling Spanish studies, not reading Neruda´s poems, or deleting social sciences or chemistry classes, it is about understanding that we, as teachers, have the responsibility of adopting our knowledge to the student’s needs. It is not an easy duty, but that is our profession about, going beyond the relaxed way. Maybe, we would not achieve to become every single topic in a useful tool, but, at least, we must expect to offer the student a possibility to face his own reality, face it from the practical, theoretical, and critical. In this way, the student will find a minimum motivation to study.
Lastly, we found that schools currently (and not only in Colombia) are submerged in a violence wave. The bullying is, definitely, a counterproductive element for the quality of education. Many public schools in Colombia are surrounded by violence, theft and insecurity; students live besieged by these acts and inevitably they affect their world’s perception, thus what they see on the streets they repeat within schools. The State is required to take charge of this situation, it cannot be extended anymore. Teachers, on their side, should be agents of mediation, it is not about stigmatizing the student, either to save him from blame, but we, as teachers, should understand him and show him an alternative. Students might find a solution in education; they have been shown that the world in which they live will not lead them to anything good, hence it is time to introduce students to education as the best choice for a better future.
All in all, we can say that Colombian education has a long way to go, we do not have an awful educational system, but there are many things to improve, it should attend to the student’s need and reality, instead of focusing just on statistics. Then, quality is not the same as coverage, it goes further. Quality is a set of elements that together may provide the best for those who study. Government must aim to that, to offer coverage, security, relevant contents; in this way, it will be giving the country an educational system with an excellent quality. We, as future teachers, also have a big commitment, whether for the government should not be enough statistics, we cannot settle for transmitting information. No, teachers are change agents for society; we are the ones who should encourage children and youth to a better country styling. Only then can we be satisfied with our vocation.
Jose Alejandro Salazar
- Secretaria del Senado (1991) Constitución política de Colombia. Artículo 67. Retreived from http://www.secretariasenado.gov.co/senado/basedoc/cp/constitucion_politica_1991_pr002.html#67
- Martínez M. & Salazar A. (2013) Sectorial Plan of Education: The road to a better education?
- Vasco C. (2006) Siete retos de la educación colombiana para el periodo de 2006 a 2019. Retreived from