REMEMBER those days when Batibot and Sesame Street were aired on Channel 9 and GMA7? In my younger years, I recall watching these programs while munching on a bag of popcorn or just sit still until the shows end. Who could not forget Pong Pagong, Kiko Matsing, Ernie, Oscar and Bert? These characters added some colorful and often times anecdotal situations that tickles the funny bones in us, while always imparting valuable lessons to learn about.

I'm writing this because we know that the crucial stage of development for gaining knowledge begins at the preschool years. At this time, just like my sixteenth month old boy, their minds are like sponges, absorbing at will whatever knowledge and skill they get from what they see and hear. It is then important that a child should be exposed well to things that can really contribute to being well developed, spiritually, mentally and physically. What they learn at this early stage will surely be brought up towards the later years of the child.

Many times we hear complains of the continuous degeneration of the educational aptitude of the students nowadays. If we compare the generation of today as that of, let us say twenty years ago, we could see a big disparity of the cognitive abilities. Just listen now to some high school students who cannot read straight English or correctly spell simple terms. During those days, we were made to read one by one some poetry and literature in front of the classmates. We had contests done on whose answers on mathematics are fast and correct. Science classes were done with little experiments to arouse our curiosity.

There are already initiatives to bring back these educational programs to the students, but Sineskwela and the Knowledge Channel are not enough. If we take a look at the time allotted for the students to watch each episode, it would be just about 40 to an hour viewing time, and that is just inside the school. We could only guess how much would be retained when the student goes home, switch on the TV set, and then on air is a local telenovela on air or some game shows are being played.

I'm not saying we bring back Batibot and Sesame Street, though it may be a good idea for the preschoolers. What I'm driving at is that we need to infuse more educational programs in the TV stations and perhaps would be subsidized by either the local or national government. It might also be good to categorize these programs to suit the target audiences.

For instance, basic mathematics, alphabet, shapes and colors for the preschool; fundamental mathematics, sciences and English grammar for the elementary; advance mathematics, sciences and English comprehension for the secondary level. In that way, the tertiary level would focus more on the specific courses that the student wish to enroll, though it is still possible that English lessons would be needed to polish the skill on the language. We may have some educational programs like Matanglawin and Kap's Amazing Stories, but what we lacked more are the documentary types on the aspects of inventions, local and world history, and public awareness. And speaking of public awareness, these programs should not be laced with political agenda.

I wish the media conglomerates would foresee the future of the educational upbringing, not only on the youth, but also on the older generation of this era. The in-thing, however sadly, is that useless telenovelas with skewed moral sense are prevalent and are given much airtime and promotions. If they value the future of the present generation today, it may be a good start reviving and making educational programs. The Catholic Church has even started a role playing internet game (I forgot the name of the game) aiming at catechizing the young people today. Better start now than regret later.

(Send comments to jaliviado2001@yahoo.com)