THE Philippines was once the most literate nation in Asia. Today? “Philippine education is in crisis.”

Why is Philippine education in bad shape? Is it because that our graduates could not answer foreign interviews? Is it because that the results of the National Aptitude Tests are not satisfactory? Is it because, we cannot talk in straight English? Is it because students can no longer solve mathematical equations? Is it because we lack MA and PhD holders in the academia? Is it because the quality of Philippine education has really one down? Is it because we can be no loner above or at par with our Asian counterparts? These are some of the questions that pestered my mind as I read the comment of the good DepEd Secretary on the state of Philippine education during the education Congress in Bacolod.

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Allow me to answer some of these silly questions. First, what had the big wigs in the department do to alleviate the worsening Philippine education? Many of our academic monsters are traveling here and there just to observe the educational systems of other countries. What do we get from these adaptations? A very topsy-turvy curriculum; DepEd and Commission on Higher Education officials are banging their heads on the wall upon seeing that the Philippine education is down. They should do something and what is that. They have to review well the curricula. The problem with the subjects in the grade school and secondary education is that they do not cater to the real needs of the Filipinos. Achievement tests should not be in a foreign language but it should be in the national language.

I remembered a top ranking official in a university that laughs off over wrong letters addressed to his office by students having problems with their records. He would often show the letters to anyone who would go to his office and they would scrutinize it. After which, he would put the blame on English teachers. Once he showed me a letter, I asked him what has he done to the student?; he did nothing. He is no better than those academic robots in the department and the commission. We do not too formal or structural people in the academe, we need realists and practical men to man our educational system. We need not rotten mind in the academe. We need practical and useful innovations and not photocopied systems.

I am often reminded of my experience in my graduate studies when education is the topic. I had completed all the requirements for post-graduate studies except for thesis writing. I had already finished my proposal hearing and was granted to pursue the study way back in 2000. I was hindered because of some technical problems in my study. So, until this very day, I have not put on a cloak and a cap. I was stopped because of thesis forms and structures. Anyway, the style was too old fashioned, I might be too advanced for that structure. Soon came an administrator who was open to new trends in graduate education, it was only there that I finished my final requirement. That Dean did not judge the works based on form and structure but dealt with the meaning of the project.

Our Basic and secondary curricula are based on foreign structures that are very hard for a very young mind to digest the things that are found in their textbooks. I could remember my grade schooldays, my mother had to attend a course in mathematics, so as to help us in our new techniques in math. I believe the new techniques are better than the old ones but it did not make us critical, it made us depend on formulas that are not applicable to our day-today lives. Worst, are the curricula and programs in the tertiary and graduate programs. We had become so structured that there are no more space for growth and development.

I was once told and had read on books that tertiary education is based on a tripod, which are Instruction, Research and Community service.

Instruction has been given so much focus that the professors and teachers are the most qualified beings in this Earth to talk about their field of expertise. The students with mouths wide-opened are often amused by the out-of-this-earth terminologies that these academic firebrands utter in their lectures. In short, teachers are the ones, who only understand what they are talking about.

Instruction should be done in the vernacular. Lectures should be experiential and not copied from books of foreign authors. I teach Logic and I usually connect logical thoughts with the present situation. Students will listen more to stories than the Aristotelian and symbolic Logic.

Research has also been given attention. The research component should be to develop the system and not to be tied to a useless and non-functional system. Negrenses are not fond of research. Because of this, we only have a handful of authors and writers from the province. We are not also fond of reading. We have to remember that Negros is an agricultural province and people would rather work in the fields than spend time in reading and writing/ Of course, this should not be an excuse for those in the academe but the academe should make research practical, realistic and pragmatic. Researches should not be only statistically- based but reality-based. It should be for the development of the academe and not only as a requirement for the course.

Forget community service. We are not ready for this. The Philippine educational system has not yet reached this level. Colleges and Universities are busy with their financial problems and have no more time in helping other communities. If there are some doing these, then because they are forced to. It needs a Religious Order or Congregation to sustain such program. Look at the Religious Schools, their programs continue not because of the dedication of their employees but it is more of their apostolate.

So, if we look at the Educational system of the country, in terms of supplying the international needs then, we may conclude that it is in a very bad state. But, if we view it in supplying for our local needs, then, we are still better compared to others. So, let us stop telling everyone that the Philippine education is in crisis!

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Birthday greetings to Recoletos de Bacolod House Prior, Rev. Fr. Emeterio Buñao,OAR.

Pope John Paul II and St. Ezekiel Moreno, pray for us.