EDUCATION is another issue I will belabor, again until something breaks.
Schools open soon and laments are in the air on the perennial lack of classrooms. Brigada Eskwela is just one more proof of government’s less than full budgetary commitment to the nation’s universal education policy.
Yet, government just purchased two frigates for the Philippine Navy to the tune of a whopping P15.75 billion. How many classrooms do you think will that kind of money buy?
Frigates are part of the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Why don’t we hear of a modernization of our education system? If we can’t afford both at the same time, why prioritize defense over education?
Modernizing the Armed Forces merely ups a notch (never enough) the nation’s capability of defending its territory. Modernizing education will grow the nation’s collective soul that past and present events have shown to lack discipline, integrity and above all a sense of nationhood.
We can be short on guns and ammo for our Armed Forces but not on classrooms for our school children. We should prioritize developing the nation’s soul over the protection of national territory. Of what use is territory if the tribes occupying it lack a sense of nationhood mainly because of inadequate and defective education?
Our system lacks two basics: universality and relevance.
We have no universal education we can be proud of because our politician-leaders would rather pour people’s money into frigates, helicopters and guns for the Armed Forces than into enough classrooms, desks, food, and other supplies so every Filipino child gets a basic education.
More critically, our education is not relevant because it is still essentially a delivery or spoon-feeding system of canned knowledge and skills presumed needed for a financially defined success later in life. It is not learning or discovering who we are, what our talents are and how to use them for the good of all.
Our system is not the fun arousal of a child’s natural curiosity but the drudgery of swallowing what the teacher dishes out and the agony of preparing to spit it out at the next standardized competitive test.
In short, our education system is all about getting a passing grade. Never mind that pass or fail students exit schools without a value system that promotes self-fulfillment not in using one’s talents to acquire wealth but in putting them at the service of brother/sister Filipinos.
One unequivocal proof of our top officials’ love for the Filipino people is a law enabling a comprehensive modernization program of the country’s system of education. Development of the nation’s soul must trump protection of territory. Of what use is territory when the soul is... for sale?