National Historical Commission of the Philippines
The writings and various events on the life of Jose Rizal are filled of ideas concerning education. He recognized the importance of education in the development of a nation and its people. Crisostomo Ibarra, the principal character of his novel Noli Me Tangere possesses a desire to establish a suitable school. Ibarra mentioned in the novel what he considered a modern school. According to him the building should be spacious and hygienic, the site should be large and provided with playground and garden. Rizal himself dreamed of founding a school in accordance with the demands of modern times and circumstances.
According to Austin Craig, Rizal ambitioned to make education accessible to all, “the teaching instinct that led him to act as mentor to the Filipino students in Spain and made him the inspiration of a mutual improvement club of his young countrymen in London, suggested the foundation of a school in Paris. Later a Pampangan youth offered him $40,000 with which to found a Filipino college in Hong Kong, where many young men from the Philippines had obtained an education better than their own land could afford but not entirely adapted to their needs. The scheme attracted Rizal and a prospectus for such an institution which was later found among his papers not only proves how deeply he was interested, but reveals the fact that his idea of education were essentially like those carried out in the present public school course of instruction in the Philippines”.
Rizal also showed his support to the group of women in Malolos when their petition of establishing a school was denied by Gen. Weyler. He wrote a letter to the ladies in support to their courageous action. Rizal preaches the need of education and said that “ignorance is slavery”. Rizal always reminded his sisters the value and importance of education thus when Josefa and Trinidad visited Rizal in Hong Kong he encourage the two to learn the English language. Perhaps Rizal’s appreciation of education was influenced by his mother, Doña Teodora Alonzo. His mother was considered his first teacher. At the age of three he learned the alphabet and also taught him to appreciate Spanish poetry.
He even recognized the importance of industrial education as well. Rizal included this concept in the five purposes of the La Liga Filipina which he founded, the development of instruction, agriculture and commerce.
When Jose Rizal was deported in Dapitan on 1893, he devoted his time in teaching young children. Rizal applied the learning he acquired in the different school that he visited during his travels. It was in Dapitan particularly Talisay where Rizal used his talents and limited resources to serve his countrymen during the four years of his exile. He practiced his profession as a doctor, farmer, teacher, community developer, engineer and scientist. Rizal opened a school for young boys in the community. They were given subjects in reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, geometry, languages, history and good conduct. Rizal even gave practical lessons on the use of their hands, for he believed that education should be inculcated or integrated with the development of the community. He also taught his students different kinds of sport activities such as boxing, swinging on parallel bars and rings, swimming and arnis on account of his belief that a sound body makes a sound mind.
Rizal’s method of teaching is different compared from other schools of his time. He saw to it that learning should be adaptable to the needs or actual life of the people. Rizal is not just a conventional type of teacher; his visions were not just for himself but for the benefits of his countrymen. The effort of our present Department of Education and other learning institutions in curriculum development is in harmony with the ideas and visions of Rizal. The government is also giving its full support and prioritizes the education of Filipinos. But we should also remember that the time and needs of the learners during Rizal’s time is different to the learners of today. There might be ideas or methods which are no longer needed in the present. But still we owe him for pioneering a technique in teaching. Our educators should also follow and be motivated by the exemplar deeds of Rizal. If he were living today, he would definitely continue his undertakings in molding the minds of our youth. Just as what he had told “Ang mga kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan”.