Damgo sa matag Pilipino ang makalingkawas gikan sa kuko sa kawad-on, ug edukasyon ang labing halangdong agianan padulong sa maong damgo.

[It is every Filipino’s dream to extricate ones’ self from the clutches of poverty and education is the most honorable way towards that dream.]

And so it is with extraordinary enthusiasm that parents are now harnessing their energies to make steps that their children are able to get enrolled in the different levels of education this coming school opening. We witness this enthusiasm in the brigada eskwela whereby parents of grade school pupils willingly contribute their time and effort in the physical preparations of the school classrooms and premises in their communities.

In the secondary and tertiary levels, the preparations for the school opening are manifested in the form of boosting one’s capability to meet the matriculation and tuition and other monetary requirements for enrolment. Free education is true; only in the grade school levels. As one approaches the portals of high school or college institutions, he/she has to equip him/herself not only with notebooks and ruled pads and pencils and ballpens, he/she has to clasp wads of money bills for school fees. Otherwise, he cannot enter the gates of the school of his dream.

It is here in the secondary and tertiary stages of Philippine education that the preparation for school registration begins to pose serious problems for the great many. These problems are, of course, not unlike the need to meet the vital necessities of existence such as food and clothing and shelter which must be had at a cost.

Education in our free enterprise society is free only in so far as one is free to educate himself at the price of a privileged status—that of being able to buy it. Then and only then can it be ironically said to be a “priceless” acquisition.

For in a very real sense education in our society is an expensive commodity.

In spite of the Constitutional guarantee that the State recognizes its obligation to provide universal education to its citizenry, the reality manifests in parallel phenomenon to the economic conditions of the people: that only the moneyed strata of society are able to get educated.

Of course, to evaluate Philippine education on the basis of its role in uplifting the society to its higher republic of development is a different thing altogether. It is to demonstrate its irrelevance and futility.

We have said it before, and it behooves to say it again, the remarkable achievement of our educational system has been to produce a class of “alienated Filipinos”— educated Filipinos who after having been thoroughly brainwashed with Western (read: American) education are uprooted from their racial origins and native culture. This is a phenomenon attached to the colonial nature of our educational system. Consciously or unconsciously, everyone who aims to be educated carries in his heart that dream of becoming American clones

Concomitant with this is its reward of elevating oneself to the status of an elite Filipino. Because of the mythic attraction of education as an instrument that can uplift someone from being a social outcast the obsession of most everyone is to be able to acquire it by all conceivable means. And having successfully attained education as a laurel of success, it can now be utilized for selfish personal ends.

Yes, we know this as a historical and current fact: people whose aspirations to become professionals – lawyers especially— have been to use their badge of education as ladders towards political ambitions. And having succeeded in sitting as Senators or Congressmen or as political czars, have become society’s principal pests instead of being instruments for national development and progress.

And the vicious cycle persists: the affluent getting the best education—colonial and elitist at that—while the downtrodden millions remaining uneducated and poor. And the entire country retains its distinction as an underdeveloped country, notwithstanding that it is the first and oldest republic in Southeast Asia.

Sadly, for the ordinary Filipino who has placed high premium on education as a gateway to affluence, he/she may not be fortunate enough to come as close to the gate as his/her dream. For as long as education is essentially a commodity, it will be an elusive dream to the teeming majority of Filipinos who have pegged their fate on it as a pathway to emancipation from impoverishment.   It can only be an emancipatory tool and weapon to the rescue of the entire Filipino people if it is divested of its colonial character that creates a stratum of alienated miseducated elite lording over and above the masses of the unschooled or the “great unwashed” Filipinos, so called.

Education must be relevant and must direct its thrust towards a truly national agenda for development, not just an expensive “good for sale” inaccessible to the great masses but affordable only to the well-to-do and chiefly benefiting the capitalist educators.

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