Textbooks Should be Free
Textbooks should be free and education should be truly universal.
We live in an age of heightened awareness, in an age of supposed efficiency bereft of the hindrances of our physical limitations. Now many of those limitations have been surpassed - we no longer need to print textbooks on paper, but we still do. This supposedly is part and parcel of an economic model built on top of an educational system that should be freeing people from the barriers of poverty.
Yet information - real, life changing, useful, educational and specialized information has proven to be more expensive in the age of copyright and intellectual property.
Yes, we live in the much touted Age of Information, yet we are inundated with throngs upon throngs of garbage.
Instead of educating our children through the wondrous medium of television and cable networks, we immerse them with Spongebob Squarepants' antics.
The Supposed Solution
Is already within our grasp.
The medium is already available, yet we still cling on to our old ways like stubborn children just because powerful publishers choose to ignore the benefits that these can give to future generations.
The right thing to do would be to offer educational information at a much lower price if not totally free.
I take a look at the things that are written in Philippine textbooks for gradeschool children and can't help but think that most of these are easily searchable via the Internet.
Worst, the writers of these textbooks can even bear putting a copyright on these supposed educational material even though their value is almost the same as a blog post. Information that is considered general knowledge and easily accessible on the Internet should at least be licensed as Creative Commons.
One can arguably say that Wikipedia could even be a better textbook than what we currently have and what these publishers are greedily peddling to school principals. After all, just imagine how much money could be made, selling one textbook to millions of school children at $10 or 420 Pesos apiece.
It's an economic extravaganza.
Why not make eBook readers or Tablet Computers the requirement?
An investment in one, can span most of a child's textbook requirements for the rest of his entire educational years. Consider adding wear and tear to the equation and they're still a much suitable alternative as opposed to buying 10-15 textbooks yearly.
I would dare say that the only reason why this has not been adapted in Philippine schools yet is because of greed.
A short story:
When I was a young boy, my father who was a lawyer was approached by a textbook publisher who wanted to sue a school's principal.
The publisher bribed the principal with a car so that he would choose this particular publisher's textbooks and make it a requirement for that particular school.
The principal accepted the car, but chose another publisher instead.
My dad didn't take the case.