The Logic of the Grade Conscious (or lack thereof)

tumungo If you haven’t heard of the controversial Facebook status by UP Diliman Professor Gerry Lanuza about student grades by now, you probably don’t have free WiFi in the rock you live under. Of the many ideas ‘discussed’ (the more appropriate term would be ‘thrown at each other like rocks’), possibly the most important is this: “What is the measure of how a youth contributes to his/her society?” One pro-grade consciousness ‘netizen’ says: “I chose to focus on my studies so I can be in a better position to influence change someday”

Let me bore you a little with how things work in development non-government organizations (NGOs). Many of these groups identify their goals and measure their progress towards achieving these goals by means of a document called a ‘logical framework’ or ‘logframe’, for short (see a sample here: http://www.tools4dev.org/wp-content/uploads/Reading-a-logframe.png ; Wikipedia article here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logical_framework_approach).

These logframes arrange the organization’s objectives from the most general (example: improve the well-being of people in a certain province) to the most specific (example: conduct of hand-washing promotion activities) in a way in which one level contributes to the accomplishment of a more general level of objectives. Beside each objective is at least one indicator, or data that will be used to measure the progress towards that objective. So if we use the above-example of hand-washing promotion activities, an indicator would be the number of people who attended the said activities, as well as the number of activities themselves. That’s how strict and rigorous many NGOs define the change that they want to create in a community (or even a society), and how they measure it.

Can the advocates of ‘concentrate-on-your-studies-first-contribute-to-society-later’ come up with a logical framework to justify their theory, and show us how it really works? Probably not. The wording of the netizen I quoted itself shows that they are unsure how being grade conscious will enable them to make our country a better place for everyone, and for future generations. Paying your taxes isn’t enough (spending of taxes is directed by corrupt officials like Secretary Butch Abad), nor is voting (our choices are always limited, and the election process is controlled by the rich and powerful).

I can use up all the remaining words allowed for this essay on citing examples that show ‘study-first-contribute-later’ is a failed approach. But instead, allow me to demonstrate the logical framework of activists in a very simplified manner: (Disclaimer: this is VERY simplified. For a better discussion, contact your local activist organization for one)

  1. Activity: Rally – students and other youths attend rallies protesting various socio-economic and political problems and demanding solutions. The usual social order is disrupted (and along with the other activities that accompany the implementation of a rally, such as forums and discussions), onlookers also question the state of society, leading them to…
  2. Output: Join an activist organization – By being exposed to rallies and other related activities, both participants and onlookers become more critical in their thinking and reject dominant ideas such as “graduating on time and hard work will lead to a better future”. These people will join activist organizations, both legal and illegal, to combine their efforts with other like-minded people. Under these groups they will…
  3. Objective: Seizure of power – Organizations have a variety of actions at their disposal for seizing political power, depending on their political beliefs. For example, the radical underground movement, in which the New People’s Army (NPA) belongs to, organizes alternative governments in the countryside until they are able to surround Metro Manila and other major cities and cause them to surrender without much fighting. Once they have political power, they will…
  4. Goal: Organize a new society – Since decision-making powers in the government, including participation in government itself, is monopolized by a few, those who are not part of the few must first seize power before implementing the changes that they desire.

For sure, many people will find loopholes and other reasons to criticize this framework. But I haven’t heard any framework from those people.

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