Saturday, October 20, 2007
While and after watching the 5th anniversary special of he GMA-7 program Imbestigador entitled “Juan Tanga?”, I was amazed how it was possible to feel all sorts of emotions within a constricted 40-minute period. The more than half-hour show made me experience grief, pity, disgust, embarrassment, anger, disbelief, frustration and amusement over the disheartening decrease of the quality of education in the Philippines.
Whereas the program crew’s man-on-the-street questions to people who made fools of themselves giving wrong answers were not adequate scientific determinants of IQ, that part and the rest of the show revealed something alarming about the plight of Philippine education. If the average Filipino can recognize Angel Locsin playing the popular icon Darna but not the first Filipino president, that is upsetting. If the students in the public schools do not have the best of facilities which promote better learning atmosphere, that is enraging. If the very teachers and books which are the fountainhead of learning are erroneous themselves, that is foul. If 12% of the government budget goes to education yet nothing materializes, that is exasperating. Now, who is to blame? If finger points are flying and yet no one owns up to the accountability regarding this deplorable state, this is all the more infuriating.
A representative of the government agency underscored that everybody is a stakeholder in Philippine education. Thus, if someone says that P is the capital of the Philippines, one is not solely to be punished for one’s stupidity. If the school makes use of its open-air gymnasium as rooms of twenty classes of 85 students, the government is not solely to be the whipping boy. If the teachers cannot recognize why redundant pronouns appear in a book or why a Grade 5 textbook carries an advice on sexually-transmitted diseases, they are not solely the scapegoats. If the family of a student relies on the latter’s ability to be the breadwinner while struggling in school, the family cannot be solely slapped in the face for its lack of conscience. Owing to the absolution of everyone, what any more stake can be talked about?
Yes, intelligence comes in various forms, but the education the Filipinos get in school is something of a survival kit, hence not to be neglected. For one, it is the basis for landing jobs, and with the world increasingly globalizing, the country cannot afford to lag behind others which produce citizens of world-class professional stature. Second, key concepts are not negligible, because these key principles are the very things we apply in daily lives. Sure, a housewife does not need to use radicals or Pythagorean theorems in buying rice, but the simple question on fraction (1/2 + ¼) in the show could have been answered with the analogy of 25-centavo and 50-centavo coins. It makes perfect sense that this housewife can be a genius in marketing, plus she can apply basic math concepts. Since it is made clear that the government—perhaps the most battered scapegoat—is not the only one responsible in improving the literacy and numeracy levels of Filipinos, we should wake up from complacency before the question in the show proves true: that the Philippines is becoming a country of marching morons.