Today’s View: Education, a doubly irrelevant enterprise

Mar. 23, 2013

The capitalist school-owner would not bother about who cannot enroll and be educated because there are always several others who can pay.  In business the law of supply and demand always holds its sway.  Sori ka na lang kung wala kang pang-tuition!   

Davao Today

With the very sad and outrageous incident about the University of the Philippines scholar who died by suicide because of failure to pay for her enrolment, it is good to revisit the discussion on the essential character of the Philippine educational system.

Time and again, we are faced with a phenomenon that pushed Filipino students to the streets to protest against the glaring facts that comprise the essential character of our educational system.  Each time, the crying demand of these mass protests is aimed against the incessant “increase of tuition fees.”

But at the back of this slogan is the undeniable fact that education in our society is a business undertaking.  Education, like any other commercial item, is a commodity.  Its cost depends upon the “whim for profit” — and more profit! — of the capitalist educator.  “Business is business,” so they say.

The capitalist school-owner would not bother about who cannot enroll and be educated because there are always several others who can pay.  In business the law of supply and demand always holds its sway.  Sori ka na lang kung wala kang pang-tuition!   

The other essential nature of Philippine education is that it is colonial  meaning it is premised on the needs and purposes of our erewhile colonizers, chief of whom the American colonizers.

In the first place, the medium of instruction has to be English.  And so, language which is the soul of a people’s culture has to be the language of the Americans.  And what is the result?

We educated Filipinos have become lovers of the English language.  We are taught to despise and shun our own native tongue.  Nahimo tang larino sa iningles, apan yungit sa atong kaugalingong pinulongan.  Hambog pa kaayo ang uban kanatong moingon nga: Ay, English man ang akong first language!  (We have become very articulate in English but dumb in our own language. Others even brag, Oh, English is my first language!)

And, of course, we are very good students.  Little do we realize that to be educated is become an alienated Filipino — a stranger to his own language, his own literature, his own culture, his own history, his own people.

In high school we had Prose and Poetry of England and History of America, as major subjects.  But we did not havePhilippine Prose and Poetry.

So what happens is that the Filipino youths, whose quest for education is evident in the thousands upon thousands of graduates in colleges and universities across the country, have  become little brown Americans who, wittingly or unwittingly, promote and pursue the interests of the Americans rather than advance the welfare and needs of our country.

Ironically, our education has worked for the stagnation of our national economy and has failed to meaningfully establish our national sovereignty and national identity with purposive vigor.

This unfortunate incident involving the UP scholar is a glaring proof of how our educational system has been a big disservice to the Filipino.  I cry in angry protest against the injustice to the poor UP scholar.  What happened to her is a succinct characterization of Philippine education.  My heart bleeds even as I write the following…

A Dirge for Kristel

i found her                                                    napalgan ko siya

on an infant  morning                                            sa usa ka linghod nga buntag

on the seashore                                           sa daplin sa baybayon

collecting droplets of                                              namuphog mga lugas

moments and dreams                                            sa handom ug mga damgo

under the sun                                                          ilawom sa silaw sa adlaw

her eyes mirrored                                       gisalamin sa iyang mga mata

the laughter of pebbles                               ang katawa sa mga pinong bato

and seashells washed                                              ug mga tipakang nahugasan

by rains and seawaves                                            sa ulan ug mga balod

in the night                                                   sa miaging gabii

sunbeams                                                      natipun-og sa iyang panagway

collect on her face                                       ang sidlak sa adlaw

as she danced on tiptoe                              samtang misayaw siyang nagkinto

on the warm sand                                       sa balasong baybayon

and what seems an emerald isle              ug sa pikas nga utlanan sa dagat

on the other limit of the sea                                 may murag hitsurag emeraldang isla

kept on beckoning her                                nag-utas og pangamay kaniya

but there was no banca                              apan wala siya kakitag bangka

to take her                                                    nga iyang kasakyan

to the  emerald isle, a mirage                               ngadto sa emeraldng isla, lamat

shining like a jewel                                                 nga nagsidlak murag brilyante

in the sun                                                      sa dan-ag sa adlaw

and she kept on dancing                            ug nagpadayon siya pagsayaw

on tiptoe, pirouetting                                             nga nagkinto, nagtuyok-tuyok

lifting her arms                                            nga dinupa ang mga bukton

opening her palms                                       binukhad ang mga palad

to the clouds                                                 ngadto sa mga panganod

as she moved towards the sea                               ug nag-anam siyag duol sa dagat

and her toes were kissed by the  waves   hangtod gihagkan sa balod iyang mga tiil

and her tongue quivered                           ug mikurog ang iyang dila

and her breasts thundered                                    ug midalugdog iyang dughan

and she walked past the shore                              ug milakat siya lapas sa baybayon

towards the beacon of her                         ngadto sa tulmana sa iyang

quest eternal.                                                           way-kinutobang pangandoy.

Don J. Pagusra is  a native of Mindanao,  a multi-awarded author and a Palanca-awardee.

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