By Manuel A. Rodriguez II
Chairperson, Students' Democratic Party
Education, even for the veteran members of the academe, has never been an easy area under discussion. With the rise of technology in communications, education has become more complex than ever. It has become so closely interconnected with the individual’s and the nation’s progress. Truly, it has become the vital battle arena of the national economies trying to outdo each other in the global market.
Many scholars say that in the near future the economic battles between countries will be won or lost according to the educational attainment of their workforce. This is because the cutting edges entering the different production processes of many industries requires high learning and level of competence in science and mathematics not previously required by earlier processes.
This tells us the silent competition that happens among nations – or the struggle for the so called economic dominance. The competition which does not only happen in the workplace but also in the classroom where us Filipinos together with the other races are in conscious competition with one another. Nations helping nations is only an avenue to gain popularity in the international arena; the truth is that it is Nation against nation…a race to the top. Nations are trying to give their youth the toughest training possible in science and mathematics. The last time I read on our school newspaper, four of the top 500 Universities in the world are from the Philippines.
In our country, the present constituiton mandates the state to alocate a huge chunk of the national budget to education. The last time i checked on the internet it is the UP System that gets the highest amount of budget among other public schools controlled by the national government followed by the PUP system.
But to describe the future ahead of us simply as the age of the cutting edge or the technological age, and to produce an army of manpower known solely for its technical skills, is to say only a portion of what must we say to fulfill only a part of the many requirements of human progress. Marked by the incomparable forecast is proper – assuming that the scholar’s forecast is correct – the next century is going to peopled as well by ever more value-free persons, structures and groups. This is what we must greater be prepared for, this is what we must guard against.
The attempt to reinvent the human way of life and the most strong of all natural institutions such as marriage and family will prolong beyond what has so far attempted anywhere by any school of thought. Human civilization will be on trial, and the meaning of being a man will be a major question for every individual who would be alive by then.
For this, we must not only educate our youth with science and mathematics, we need above all to prepare them to challenge the rise of the values in this world in which moral (and religious) truths have lost their supremacy.
The signs are there.
Here in our country many youngsters are engaged in the use of drugs. Most parents no longer know who they children really are. High level of teenage pregnancy. Corruption in the government. Cheating at campuses. Pornographic DVDs being sold right in front of parishes. Lawyers using the rule of law to cover up an injustice. Professionals who do not have integrity on the manner they do their jobs in spite of being educated in a religious institution. Despite our being a Christian nation, most youth are not involved and does not believe in the Church.
I strongly believe that these things are seen as a standard outcome of reinventing almost everything, from the natural to the man-made, in the industrial Western culture. The obsession of reinventing almost everything has replaced all moral and religious values with secular ones, thereby banning the concept of God in the public square and revising the tradition of seeing religion as “sacred.”
What appears to be the cancer of the society in the western world seems to be just beginning here in our nation. But it is the same virus, and we must do every effort to check it before its spreading and become a common moral disease here in our nation. Educating the youth correctly is the best way to check it.
The term “educating” which I used does not only include a classroom technique but also and above all a correct view of man in relation to everything else. We must make our young Filipinos see that the right answers to the questions asked to them are given not by some political thinker or a philosopher but by Christ himself.
The education of the Filipino youth must, as a vital primary step, locate itself and the purpose of its instruction in the proper cultural setting. By this I mean that education must take into realization the fact that ours is a Christian society which must be instilled by Christian values. (Those from Mindanao must read this to mean Islamic society with Islamic values.)
Let us give our young men the Christian education that they deserve, the government has the duty to give it to them. Indeed such duty is to prepare them for the complex unseen battles of a highly technological age, but not by depriving them of the rich Christian heritage that they inherently possess and their right to perfect their Christian lives.
There is no reason why their education must try to teach them about the technological world while doing everything to rule out the belief of perfecting their lives as the key to their eternal happiness with our creator. If indeed the main purpose of education is to bring out the best in a student, why then here in our nation it tend to become silent on the most important thing, namely, salvation?
I propose that the revival of our Christian moral and religious principles is the more critical task of education here in the Philippines. Such task is not only vested on educational institutions such as the Philippine Christian University or of the Catholic University of Santo Tomas or other religious schools but instead by it is vested on all educators (including parents, the first teachers) who believe that Jesus Christ is the Way, Truth and Life.
For while the knowledge of technical skills should help an individual respond to the demands of the futuristic age, only genuine Christian education of consciences will make us confident that the human being himself is making progress. This and this alone could make us confident that re-Christianization is happening in our Filipino culture. Our culture, our civilization, our Nation.
The young people of this generation are searching for the true meaning of life although they may be unaware of it. They are searching for definitive answers; they are searching for a God. Unfortunately many of them never found it yet, but instead found other things such as drugs, sex, crimes and etc.
In their continuous search they cannot help but to encounter the Church and the Church cannot help but to encounter the young. The only requirement is that the Church has an insightful understanding of what it means to be young, of the importance of the youth has for every person. It is also necessary that the young know the Church, which they acknowledge Christ in the Church, Christ who walks through years alongside each age band, alongside every individual. He walks alongside each person as a friend not a tyrant powerful being.
The most important day of the young is for him to become convinced that Christ is the only friend who will not disappoint him, on whom he can always put his trust and confidence.
I can end by saying that if we want an excellent education for our beloved nation, the Philippines. We should give the young people who seek to be good the education that gives them the opportunity to know himself more and the society where he belong as well by listening to God while looking at his fellow men. For a Christian, only a good Christian education makes it possible. This nation is thirsty for Christians in the academe.
Often recalcitrant, but always principled.