Schools with­out a sense of na­tion­hood

The Freeman - - OPINION -

The sad re­al­ity that con­sci­en­tious Filipinos should worry about to­day is that our chil­dren are be­ing taught in schools whose vi­sions and mis­sions (and thus, whose cur­ric­u­lar pro­grams and teach­ing thrusts are too ori­ented on skills and knowl­edge, ne­glect­ing the at­ti­tudes and habits, much less char­ac­ter build­ing and civic mind­ed­ness) are not re­ally geared to in­cul­cate in them a sense of na­tion­hood, a feel­ing of com­mu­nity with the rest of the Filipino peo­ple. Our chil­dren are then most likely to grow up too fix­ated on the greed for money and power, for pres­tige and plea­sure. They tend to ne­glect the fam­ily, the com­mu­nity and the na­tion. They worry about com­pet­ing in the global arena of bru­tal com­pe­ti­tions, ne­glect­ing the bonds of kin­ship and na­tion­hood.

I am sad to wit­ness how ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions, in­clud­ing those that are owned, led, and man­aged by re­li­gious con­gre­ga­tions, have de­te­ri­o­rated into purely busi­ness en­ter­prises with­out a clear sense of so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity. I know whereof I speak and whereof I write. My five chil­dren have all been ed­u­cated in Catholic schools, from nurs­ery to post-grad­u­ate stud­ies. I have par­tic­i­pated in many par­en­tteacher meet­ings and many school con­vo­ca­tions and I have been pres­i­dent of many par­ents as­so­ci­a­tions. I have in­ter­acted with priests and nuns who ad­min­is­ter these schools. I am miss­ing a very im­por­tant di­men­sion of the school cur­ric­ula. There is only a to­ken em­pha­sis on char­ac­ter build­ing and civic mind­ed­ness. The thrusts are weak, ten­ta­tive and in­ter­mit­tent, even dis­jointed and short-ranged.

The schools ap­pear to me as noth­ing but busi­nesses. There is no em­phatic, pur­po­sive, strate­gic, and long-ranged thrust to mold the char­ac­ter of peo­ple to be­come good and hon­est lead­ers. Of course, we can­not blame the schools en­tirely for the kind of per­son the alumni turn out to be. But some­how, the schools have a very im­por­tant role to play in rear­ing the fu­ture leader and mold­ing his or her char­ac­ter. For in­stance, we can­not blame Ate­neo for pro­duc­ing a man like de­posed pres­i­dent Erap Estrada nor As­sump­tion Col­lege for GMA, much less the de­funct Di­vine Word Uni­ver­sity for Imelda Mar­cos. But from the aca­demic point of view, I won­der what they taught Erap, GMA, and Imelda those days? What does UST teach to fra­ter­nity broth­ers and soror­ity sis­ters?

We need a school that shall fo­cus on rear­ing the char­ac­ter of our fu­ture pres­i­dents, fu­ture sen­a­tors, and con­gress­men and even fu­ture gov­er­nors and may­ors. We need to in­cul­cate in our fu­ture lead­ers the val­ues of pa­tri­o­tism that Dr. Jose Rizal (an Ate­neo and UST alum­nus, by the way, in fair­ness) ex­em­pli­fied in his courage to stand up and risk his life. And his mar­tyr­dom that crowned his life of sac­ri­fice to give ex­am­ples to the youth. To­day, I am not see­ing these val­ues be­ing stressed in schools. I mean, we teach physics, ge­om­e­try, eco­nom­ics, pol­i­tics, busi­ness, and mil­i­tary science. But we rel­e­gated good man­ners and right con­duct. Thus we are get­ting busi­ness­men with­out con­science, politi­cians with­out in­tegrity, and tech­nocrats with­out char­ac­ter. Sad, so sad.

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