FOR whatever they are worth, here are my top priorities in the radical reform of education I have always been advocating.
Absolute first priority is universal education. There is no denying education opens doors even as the lack of it is the cause of many social ills. Government must insure that all Filipino children, including those with special needs, get free basic (K-12) education.
To insure that every child gets basic education, government must also provide free food, school supplies, and transport up to grade 12. Having done this government is now justified to enact a law making it illegal for parents to refuse to send their child to basic school.
The free college and higher education the Duterte administration has initiated is a step in the right direction. However, it is most critical that universal education is attained first and fully at the basic education level.
Second priority is teacher quality. Schools are only as effective as teachers are competent. These must not only have a mastery of the subject they teach but are also conversant with pedagogical methods. These are many, some more effective than others. Teachers must know which method best fits the subject they teach.
Some examples of teacher quality assurance: In Norway, teachers are required to spend four hours only in the classroom and the other four hours in lectures and seminars on pedagogical methods. In Finland, all teachers are required to have a university schooling and a Masters degree in the subject they teach.
Highly qualified teachers must, of course, be compensated just as highly. Taxes should be raised for the purpose. Pork and the Senate can also be abolished and the savings spent to improve the salaries of teachers who play a much more critical role in nation-building than much more highly paid senators, lawyers, athletes and film celebrities.
Third priority is the curriculum which should be designed to attain three objectives over and above the mere acquisition of knowledge and skills. One, liberate students from the negative influences of a deeply entrenched colonial culture. Two, instill human values the country lacks direly as integrity and self-respect, equity and social cohesiveness, patriotism, etc. Three, develop critical thinking, creativity and innovativeness as these are the drivers of progress.
Beyond those objectives, local schools should be allowed to further tailor their curricula to the locality’s peculiar educational needs.
We need a system of education that breaks down the cultural barriers to inclusive progress that corrupt, self-serving political, business and religious leaders, who exclusively reap the benefits of a backward colonial culture, maintain and reinforce.