Let me start by enumerating those resources we enjoy for free–public roads, schools, hospitals and the faura and fauna of our rich environment. Being open for everyone’s consumption, these resources are slowly being depreciated and depleted. Public roads are having congested traffics, public schools and hospitals are exceeding their accommodation limits, and freely available forests are crowded with loggers and poachers. This current situation of freeloaders benefiting from common resources is defined as the tragedy of the commons.

The drastic repercussions of this universal tragedy have been aggravated by the unstoppable growth of population. In this era of escalating demand for limited resources, even space and niche in this world has become a public resource to be fought over. More and more masses are forced to live in the slums despite inhumane living conditions. They are often unemployed as the supply of jobs remains stagnant despite the increasing number of worker applicants. For most of these people, living becomes a curse.

I understand that the root of this poverty lies in the system and not necessarily the people who are part of it. The lack of education, especially about family planning, has driven many to even propagate their genes, in hopes of bearing a child who would someday redeem them from their present state of destitution. But before this child can be the answer to his parents’ hopes, he will first have to be born in a public hospital, to be raised in a squatters’ area and to be educated in a public school because of poor living conditions. The multiplier effect of population growth eventually equates to a considerable number availing of our public resources.

There will come a time when public institutions will be ineffective and natural resources depleted. The system continues to persist until humans and resources eventually end up in a lose-all situation. We suffer the repercussions of a population boom and our common resources become too scarce that they eventually come with price tags.

If that’s the case, then what has been done? Some authorities have fortunately heeded the call to change the system of miseducation through the addition of special topics on sex, contraception and family planning to the high school curriculum. If this program is properly implemented and the teachers are well-trained to responsibly handle taboo topics such as sex, I believe that more people will be able to correct their misconceptions. This could hopefully initiate the struggle against the root of overpopulation and poverty –- our country’s system of ignorance and miseducation.

Paul, 18, is a college sophomore student taking up BS Management Engineering. He is also an honor graduate of Philippine Science High School – Main Campus in Diliman.

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