Rizal is such a wise visionary to think and suggest that education is the answer to emancipate our country men from bondage. It is for this reason that he didn’t favor revolution in his time because he should have envisioned that even when we successfully defeat the Spaniards and became independent, the system will not change, only the ones that runs it.
Decades later, President Manuel L. Quezon during his struggle for Philippine independence from the Americans said that it’s better for the Philippines governed like hell by Filipinos themselves than by a colonial power (the US). As if he has the gift of prophecy, it happens. We are certainly governed like hell by our country men.
And it happens because though we are considered one of the most educated in Asia, there are sorts of mis-education and lapses worsen by a considerably high functional illiteracy and illiteracy for more than a century. (Click and see Edukasyon Bilang Daan sa Pagwawasto sa Kamalian ng Nakalipas)
At present, aside from new curriculum directions in education which seek to correct the considerably very low level of abstraction capability of the Filipinos by developing higher order thinking skills among our young generation, we are pushing for universal education by 2015. The government is also pushing for the K+12 Program which though is earning negative reactions in some quarter will help correct errors in education that has brought about negative mindset and perspective.
Negative mindset and perspective and lack of abstraction or higher order thinking capabilities are the very reason why we have bad governance and backward economy. Through the years, we have been exploited by our own rich and powerful fellow men because of our indolence. Many opportunities have remained untapped just because we lack the necessary know how and skills or we tend to disregard what is important, necessary and needed because we believe other wise.
In “La Instruccion,” Rizal wrote "...Instead of novenae...and mysteries (referring to the traditional education being given by the friars then) that serve neither to foment or awaken faith nor to make one a Christian in the true meaning of the word, if it is desired to make of him not the friend of praying and murmuring words without reflecting on them or believing in them, but the man who believes, works and loves his fellowmen; instead of these textbooks, we repeat, could they not give to the child simple books on morals, on the geography and history of the Philippines and above all a good treatise on agriculture but written in the language he speaks, since the immense majority of the people are engaged in working and cultivating the soil and raising cattle, inasmuch as the country is very suitable for these?
"...This modest and almost rudimentary education would be enough to awaken in the pupils ideas of education and progress, and the people, the rulers and even religion would gain much, for thus would disappear superstition, routine, crass ignorance and certain customs which would be immoral were they not the offspring of extreme innocence and candor. There are books on true and sane morals as well as little compendiums of history and geography and treatises on agriculture adapted to the country. What does it cost to translate them and disseminate them in the public schools for those unfortunate children who cannot go to better schools in order to get a more useful education?
"Let us cease to be empirical and routinary. Let us learn to progress. Let us seek the direct good, for life is short and the mission of man is great. Let everyone fulfill his duties and obligations in the sphere in which he lives, not only for the sake of complying with and not failing the mandate, but to do good and to help in the common task of suffering and progressive humanity."
True enough, we need to revolutionize education and try various ways to correct the mis-education and lapses of the past. And it involves every body, rich and poor alike.
(Mr. Gilbert M. Forbes had his Bachelors Degree and MA in Educational Management (CAR) from the Philippine Normal University. A campus paper adviser and trainer for 13 years. Currently, he is a school principal in one of the central schools in the Division of Quezon.)