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Principles of Education and Philippine Education - Part II

Principles of Education as Applied to Philippine Education: Part II

     "Education should have a program based on an understanding and assessment of social forces and conditions of the present generation."  and  "Education should bring the school closer to the people." The second and third principles of education are concerned with relevancy. Varied changes have taken place in many aspects of life: new scientific discoveries and new diseases, technological innovations and inventions, global terrorism, destructive changes in the environment, demographic changes and new political alliances on a global scale and so on. The educational system should be responsive to these changes while it tries to keep those values and traditions deemed necessary for proper education. "One of its objectives is to conserve the past and contribute to the progress of the community. The community school idea has been accepted in third world countries to hasten development. The townspeople participate in a number of ways to make the school the center of activities to promote economic self-sufficiency, health and sanitation, peace and security, good citizenship and culture, among others" (Cruz, et. al.: 1988).

     Some changes have been made in the school system in order to cope with existing trends and demands, and these include, among others, the addition of subjects like basic computer and psychology, the introduction of short-term courses and livelihood programs, and the modifications of the contents of and teaching strategies for math-science disciplines. The teaching of mathematics and science can be enhanced by increasing the number of minutes devoted to these subjects. One must only remember the fact that Filipino students spend less years getting educated than their American, Japanese and European counterparts. Another major concern is the teaching of English. English as a subject must be retained since this policy is in keeping with global trend. However, English as a medium of instruction must be gradually phased out, making the Filipino language as the only medium of instruction except in a number of subjects like communication arts and medicine.

     "Education should have a program both practical and effective."  This fourth principle of education is reflected in increased academe-industry linkages. Not only business and industry should have greater access to a pool of human resources. Other sectors of society should establish and maintain linkages with the academic community. For its part, the government should make sure that the teaching profession will attract and retain some of the best talents available through attractive remuneration and other forms of job satisfaction, as provided for in article 14 section 5 of the 1987 Constitution.

     Greater autonomy should be given to colleges and universities provided that these schools have programs that undeniably promote the Filipino culture and foster the sense of national pride.

    
"Educational programs should provide opportunities for all types of learners."
The fifth principle of education deals with educational opportunities for all learners. Who are these learners? They are the above-average and superior students, the average students and the exceptional students who possess certain physical and/or mental traits which differentiate them from the rest of the students. One has to admit that as a rule the present educational system, however inadequate, serves the needs and interests of the average learners who comprise the majority of the student population. This does not mean that the needs and interests of the above-average, superior and exceptional students are not given due consideration by policy-makers. These students share many things in common with the average learners and find many aspects of the educational program as beneficial and "befitting a student." On the other hand, these students do have a number of needs and interests which differ markedly from those of the average students.

     It is quite important for us --- as a people and as a nation --- to provide the above-average and superior students and the gifted (exceptional) students with appropriate learning materials in an environment conducive for learning. For it is from within their rank that the future leaders of the country will emerge. The kind of learning environment for these students must be such that it satisfies their first-rate abilities and makes for creative and critical thinking. In the public school system, this learning opportunity is exemplified by the systems found in Manila Science High School and the Philippine Science High School.

     It is quite important for us --- as a people and as a nation --- to provide the physically and mentally handicapped (exceptional) students with appropriate learning materials in an environment conducive for learning. Not only do we assist these students in their school life by getting involved in this human endeavor. More importantly, we discover our own humanity. Certainly, there are public and private institutions that cater to the needs of the blind, the deaf and mute, the physically handicapped, the mentally retarded learners and other exceptional students. However, it is quite likely that there is a shortage of schools for handicapped students. This problem is aggravated by the following:

     1. lack of professionals in the field of special education;

     2. lack of learning materials in public libraries;

     3. lack of public facilities for the handicapped as seen in the streets and buildings of Metro Manila;

     4. insufficient funding; and

     5. lack of official support to make education truly meaningful and relevant for the handicapped

     In mainstream schools, the work of identifying "slow-learners" and students who need remedial instruction is done by a team of school experts which include the guidance counselor, the dean or principal or department chairperson, the subject-teacher and the school psychologist if there is one. It is an enormously difficult task but it is a task which needs to be accomplished.

     Are there provisions in the 1987 Constitution that deals, directly or indirectly, with the education of the handicapped? The answer is "Yes." These are section 1 and subsections 1 and 5 of section 2 of article 14. We begin with section 2 subsection 1 which mandates the state to "establish, maintain and support a complete, adequate and integrated system of education relevant to the needs of the people and society." One assumes that the educational system envisioned in the constitution includes the education of the handicapped. In other words, the education of the handicapped is an integral part of that system.

     However, section 2 subsection 5 provides that "the state shall provide adult citizens, the disabled and out-of-school youth with training in civics, vocational efficiency and other skills." The subsection strongly suggests that: 1) the education of handicapped students is not an integral part of the system of education as defined in subsection 1; and 2) the education of the handicapped is limited to "training in civics, vocational efficiency and other skills." A definition of terms is in order to clarify the foregoing statement. The term "adult citizens" refers to Filipino citizens of legal age who --- for one reason or another --- have had little or no formal education. The term "out-of-school youth" refers to children and young people of school age who cannot or have decided not to attend formal school due to some personal reasons. Traditionally, the term "disabled" refers to physically handicapped persons but the meaning of the word has been broaden to include the mentally handicapped individuals. Since article 14 deals with the system of education in the Philippines, it is quite natural to assume that the "disabled" referred to in section 2 subsection 5 include handicapped children and young people of school age. Therefore, they have the right to attend school and to receive quality education as provided in section 1 of article 14, and they are subject to the constitutional provision on compulsory elementary education. Unless they are diagnosed as medically and/or psychologically unfit for school, they are willing to study under a system of free public elementary and high school education and to deal with the problems and difficulties inherent in their education.

     They are human beings who have the same basic needs as other "normal" children of school age. They are human beings who, after having reached the school age, do not want to be confined to their homes because of their disabilities. They are human beings who are capable of learning in spite of their limitations. That there are handicapped children who have adapted well to school life and handicapped learners who have completed post-graduate studies are clear and powerful proofs that they can learn and learn well. Of course, there are disabled persons who would opt or have opted for "training in civics, vocational efficiency and other skills." However, this is beside the point.

     By placing the "disabled" alongside "adult citizens" with little or no formal education and "out-of-school youth," the framers of the 1987 Constitution seemed to have subscribed to an outdated idea which explicitly condemns disabled persons of school age as incapable of coping with school life; thus, they should be confined to their homes except when they need to be given "training in civics, vocational efficiency and other skills." Section 2 subsection 5 of article 14 appear to be in need of modification. As a people, we must not allow handicapped individuals of school age to grow up and become out-of-school youths and adult citizens with little or no formal education because of an outdated idea! As a nation trying to achieve a state of economic development, we cannot afford to allow such a situation to occur. It is time and effort wasted and it is money down the drain.

 
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