TWO GOOD REASONS why our educational system needs to be reformed has something to do with its practical effectiveness and its lack of moral bearings.
The K-12 system,- for instance- increasing the number of years a person gets educated by two years – was supposed to make our graduates “globally competitive”. But years after its implementation, the majority of those who finish high school here can rarely find jobs- (about 3.4 million of them).
Their college version counterparts are no better. We know that every year the nation churns out about a million new graduates- a big number of them having difficulty finding jobs or are getting jobs that are totally unrelated to their major subject proficiencies.
While it is true that public elementary and high school education is now tuition-free, the cost of school materials, transport and food remains burdensome especially if still 21% of our families live below the poverty line.
Approved curriculums are quite generic – when what is needed are specialized majors that kowtow to the business personality of the community in which local students take their schooling. A tourism-oriented province like Bohol, for example, should zero in on major subjects that will ensure the graduates are employment-ready for Rest and Recreation activities like hotels, resorts, restaurants, airlines, tour agencies, guides and transport.
An agriculture-based and a manufacturing-based locality should have different course emphasis to ensure they keep their students home and not let them freely go and overcrowd other urban cities again like Manila, Cebu, Davao and others in the search of jobs.
There is also little emphasis and respect for vocational skills when a welder- whether male or female- can fetch as much starting income as a call center operator who speaks “whers-whers” English. What gives, Watson?
We have too many lawyers and accountants- and very few scientists, math majors and the digital art designers so much in demand everywhere. It has only been recently that the nurses’ pay was raised to P30,000 (same with teachers) when this country needs both of them like fish to water. (Just to emphasize a somewhat unrelated development).
These are part of the failure of the K-12 , says 94% of parents interviewed about the government-initiated program during station dyRd’s “Intyong Alagad” program. The government has taken cognizance of the K-12 deficiency that Congress is about to audit its efficacy.
If they want solutions, the government should also look itself in the mirror to find who is at fault. This government was not prepared to implement the K-12 because it did not have fully equipped teachers to mentor the system. This government, it seems, is not giving enough importance to the development of human capital – starting with this lack of absorptive capacity to implement the true-blue globally-standardized K-12 system. Let us not also forget the way they reduced the budget of the Department of Health in favor of roads and bridges and military equipment.
Because, Watson, it is – always quality, not quantity that matters. You may have a K-12 but if the system sucks- the nation will have a GIGO situation- garbage in and garbage out. We must note that except for three notable schools in this country, our other schools also cannot hold a candle against the rest of the world in terms of quality of education. Something must give.
Congress should start beefing up the budget for the retraining of teachers to world-class K-12 levels. Otherwise, it is a darned waste of time and money for everyone.
The second part of the narrative is to look at the emphasis of say – the Japanese education and why it had produced one of the most disciplined, morally upright and productive citizens in the world. Shamed for corruption, many of the Japanese would rather take their lives than walk their streets.
There is perhaps no race as polite and courteous, disciplined in work and ethics and as nationalistic as the Japanese. Are we surprised then-that less than four decades after it was almost obliterated from the map by the Allies in 1945, Japan is now the third most prosperous nation on earth?
It starts with their educational system.
Because while their elementary education still teaches the basics of mathematics and language, there is an equal emphasis on morality and values formation.
There are are no janitors in school- the kids learn to clean the school themselves (including their toilets), teach them the value of helping one another (hindi “ija ija aho aho”, sorry) and think of the country first.
They are taught early about moral dilemmas to be faced in the real world- where the black, white and gray areas of morality are being studied to make the young kids deal with these moral imperatives in the real world.
Meet the Japanese tourist here or visit Japan and you be amazed as to how wonderfully educated they are in every sense of the word. They respect themselves as much as they do others. It seems they have learned -as a nation- from the excesses of World War II committed by Japanese soldiers.
The nation of Japan has almost become a pacifist.
The Philippines is a Catholic nation but it has a sectarian government that recognizes the separation of the Church and the State. It would be hard to impose the Catholic doctrines in public schools but certainly, we must answer why the subject “Good Manners and Right Conduct” that we used to have the elementary grades has gone extinct?
In the Christian/Catholic educational institutions, however, it may be a good idea to cull the different gems of wisdom leading to a righteous, rightful life propagated by renewal movements like the Couples for Christ, Bukas Loob ng Diyos and the BCBP- especially incorporating the realistic scenarios of everyday living in the modern world- so the kids are attuned to tackle dilemmas using the moral imperatives even at a young age. By allotting subject(s) related to these less material-based things.
This newspaper does not claim expertise as to how to enmesh this lofty way of Christian living inside the teachings of the four walls of the classrooms- but it is a movement greatly to be desired.
Such a Christianization/moralization of education such that all acts be deemed as an exercise in moral judgment is certainly needed in these times when moral relativity in society is more the rule than the exception. People justify immoral means and choices with “noble” ends.
For to paraphrase: while to Christianize man to the neglect of the material is to Christify in vain it is also as important to know that to prosper man to the neglect of Christian values is to humanize man in vain.
While it is true that the foundation of a moral society rests on a solid family foundation, one must realize that kids spend as much of their waking hours inside schools- and on there lies precisely the challenge to strengthen their malleable, young moral fibers.
Competency in K-12 teaching, benchmarked curriculum to local needs and teaching moral ascendancy are buzzwords we must bear in mind as the nation critiques the whys and wherefores of the present K-12 Program which, so far, has registered failing marks.
May we improve our educational system further for the good of the nation.
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