Yesterday I attempted to show how mindless it is to assert that the Philippine Educational Highway ends in “a job.” The education highway in the Philippines needs to bring us to much, much more.
This is captured beautifully in the proposed Revised General Education Curriculum. Its first paragraph states:
“The objective of Philippine education on the tertiary level is the holistic education of the Filipinos who contribute humanely and professionally to the developmet of a just and economically-robust society in an environmentally-sustainable world through competent and innovative leadership, as well as productive and responsible citizenship” (1.0)
There is very much to reflect on here. But it may need to be unpacked.
The objective of Philippine education is not just “a job. “ On the tertiary level, which is the outflow of the entire basic education program, the objective is “the holistic education of Filipinos.” What is holistic describes what is whole and complete, not what is abstract and incomplete. A holistic education calls forth the whole human being, not just the worker, nor just the consumer, nor just a cipher in a sea of statistics. Tertiary education is therefore not just about forming engineers, computer programmers, physicists, doctors and nurses, and the like; it is also about forming the human being. It is not just about professional development; it is also about human development.
The objective is not only a competent professional, one who knows how to run a business or cure a patient, but also a competent human being. We do not reflect on this nor demand this enough in our educational efforts. A competent human being knows how to learn, delights in truth; knows how to love, loves in truth; knows the difference between right and wrong, freely chooses the right, and is remorseful when wrong.
This competent person contributes to the development of society. He or she is not boxed in in private interests: personal profit, personal advantage, personal comfort. He or she acts so that the community of human beings in which he or she lives and works is enhanced; he or she pursues the common good in a just society, not the selfish interests of some over the intersts in justice of many; contributes to a productive and humane economy which can be sustained in an environmentally-sensitive world.
He or she is a competent leader, can use his cultivated professional and human competence to think “out of the box,” to think diffeently, to travel unchartered distances. He or she is a citizen, knows his or her responsibilities to society, and is faithful to them.
I have only begun to unpack this; better minds may unpack it more competently. But my point is: if we are going to reform the Philippine educational system, it is important to know where we are going.
We are not going toward a situation where Filipinos and Filipinas are mindless yes-persons stuck in worlds created by others and governed by others, no matter how much they may earn. We are not travelling a road where for the sake of a tyrannical job we numb our hearts to the demands of our families, the welfare of spouse and children. We are not educating our people so that they may harm and hurt other human beings with impunity through the knowledge and skills they have learned in “being educated.”
Stating the objective of Philippine education allows us to make right choices in crafting our educational system.
Not too long ago, in an educational consultation run by Isagani Cruz, the question was raised: would we be willing to make general education on the tertiary level optional as some societies have.
Happily, our answer was an emphatic no.