THERE is an increasing criticism against the move to resume classes through various modes of delivery even as the pandemic continues. For example, it is suggested that schools take an “academic freeze” in the absence of a vaccine. Posts also insinuating criticisms against the Department of Education (DepEd) for requiring teachers and students to re-fashion their lives for an online delivery mode that has been proliferating. Some have started blaming schools for exacerbating the mental illness of some students due to pressure or anxiety.

It is human to feel sympathy and compassion for people especially these days where everyone is groping in the dark for solutions to their problems. However, we also have to warn ourselves not to be too subjective in our assessments of things thereby ending with irrational generalizations and interpretations.

An example of this is the creeping mentality sometimes expressed as an accusation that schools are pushing for the opening of classes merely because of revenue. One would hear or read this line from those whose understanding of education or schooling is skewed by whatever preferred ideology. The criticism would thus lead to the association of schools with the various forms of oppression that continue to prevail in society.

Many are not aware that like most if not all institutions, schools today are also suffering. But unlike other businesses schools cannot just shut down. Not because the generation of income has to continue but because “education” should not stop. In times of peace and war, people cannot but continue learning.

Some would say, why not stay at home and let the child learn the basics of life? There is also the question: what is it that my child can learn from school these days that justify the payment of thousands? I admire the posturing behind these questions. The attempt to appear radical is worth the acknowledgment. But we have to admit that within the context of an evolving world, education is not just about ABC or 123.

Education today is not just about learning how to read and write, and neither is it just about the ability to solve fundamental mathematical operations. If only education is about these, then apparently there is a good reason why a parent may not send her child to school. After all, Google has the answer to all or most of our questions. But education is no longer the mere assimilation of information. Like it or not, it has become a compartment or a segment of the social process all human beings must go through. It is a required experience to get the feel at least in the microcosm – in terms of how the real jungle of life is played in the macrocosm.

Staying at home and reading volumes of books may make one a Literati but missing is the social connection that must be built through the years so that in the end one would enhance social capital. There is no argument that many insights in and about life can be generated even without going to school. But within the context of our current social structure, who shall attest and validate the level of intelligence achieved through self-study? Education links us to the vast network of human relationships without which human flourishing would be unthinkable more so past the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Many believe that by going to school the poor will become poorer. This is not a good idea to embrace and neither should we promote this kind of thinking. People have forgotten or perhaps are unaware that poverty is not just the absence of money in the here and now. Poverty is and can be inherited. It is a condition passed on from the previous generation, and in fact, can still be passed on from one generation to another or even to more future generations. The rich can even become poor if they don’t know how to manage their resources. The mere possession of wealth is not the only way to maintain richness. Without proper management of one’s possessions poverty is nothing but a misfortune waiting to happen.

Education may not make all people rich. This is true. But education can equip people with the skills, networks, relationships, and the confidence that they need to survive and thrive in a world of competition. In the end, education may not make one a millionaire but it would certainly lessen the probability of living a life below the poverty line.

I admire the passion of those who posted the picture of a grandmother who bought a cellphone for her “apo.” Some would prefer to interpret the picture as the grandmother being an object of oppression by a capitalist society. But one may also interpret the picture this way: the grandmother has full of hopes that with the cellphone she gave to her apo, and so long as the apo would do his best in his studies, someday they will move out from their unfreedoms and thus live a life that they will find more reason to value.