Wednesday, January 26, 2011

On Universal Primary Education in the Philippines

By Romulo Bautista, Ph.D
Devstrat Consultant

Given the premise that the child of pre-school age has the basic right to “quality education” as tool toward his eventual “total human liberation and development” which is his insurance to self-preservation, the fundamental questions are raised “Where does education begin and where does it end?”

There are several answers to both questions, from the extreme to the moderate which might be summed up in three propositions: (1) “from conception to the resurrection”; (2) “from womb to tomb”; and from (3) “from cradle to grave”. Note, however, that the three propositions practically suggest that education begins at home, but speculatively suggest distinct destination points.

It is a widely accepted assumption derived from those propositions that “a child is born with an empty mind” (or mind that is ‘tabula rasa’ or ‘blank board’). The child’s mind is delicately malleable; thus it needs teachers/educators to mold it. The concept of “tabula rasa” is, therefore, considered the starting point of education.

Given life’s journey, what is education for? Education is for the pursuit of “complete living”. But, “complete living” is pursued hierarchically. Thus, specific goals of complete living could be identified within the hierarchy of human needs and wants. Accordingly, the first specific goal of education is self-preservation, the satisfaction of physiological needs and wants; the second is satisfaction of security needs and wants; the third is the satisfaction love needs and wants; the forth, the satisfaction of esteem needs and wants; and finally, the self-actualization or the ‘total human liberation and development’ of the pupil in his mature years.

Given the starting point and goal of education, the educational goal of the Barangay Day Care Program should be “to replace the child’s empty mind with an open one.” The child should be taught and be educated to keep his mind discriminately open to various, and even opposing, ideas, values, and practices of the elders. The negative and positive values and/or practices of his society would affect his actual choices and decisions in the pursuit of complete living.

Explained differently, “education is an activity or endeavor in which the more mature in society deals with the less mature, in order to achieve greater maturity in them and contribute thereby to the improvement of human life”.

Outside the home, the day care center is an informal institution where the pre-school children should be taught and educated “to learn to unlearn” and/or “to unlearn to learn” their values and practices learned and/or acquired at home or elsewhere. From the realistic point of view, education is an on-going process where the child ‘is what he is not, and he is not what he is”. Identity-wise, “who the child is” is permanent. The identity of the child at one year old remains the same identity even in his older years, “I was that child”. Personality-wise, “what the child is” at three year old is distinct from “what he is” at 20 years later, though his identity remains the same (“identity” is from Latin roots, idem (same) entitas (entity) or id-entitas meaning, “same entity”).

Personality-wise, education is a life-time process of liberating and developing the child from “what he is” to “what he is not”, and from “what he is not” to “what he is”. The transformation involves the “learning and unlearning” activities of the child. Here the teacher/educator plays a crucial role.

The day care program is a supervised daytime care for pre-school children usually at a center outside the home. And precisely because it is a supervised institution, it is expected that it should provide the children of pre-school age with a “quality education” that is consistent with the systems of learning mandated by Article XIV of the Constitution.