Friday, September 17, 2010

Distorted vision

In his time, Jose Rizal was obsessed with the type of education available to the majority of Filipinos. His voluminous correspondence to family and friends, his articles for "La Solidaridad and his novels ( Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo) all reflect his deep concern for the problems of education in the Philippines.

When Rizal was enrolled at the Universidad Central de Madrid (1882-1885) , he felt so invigorated by the liberal ideas of his mentors (Miguel Morayta and Francisco Pi y Margall) that he began to plan a colegio moderno where young Filipinos would be encouraged to think and analyze instead of learn obscurantist ideas by rote and memorization. Importantly, the colegio moderno would instill a sense of nationhood (sentimiento nacional) in future generations.

With nation-building foremost in his mind, Rizal was convinced that the key to material progress was scientific knowledge which served as a solid base for agriculture, industry, and commerce. History was of vital importance and it included the study of different religions and cultures. Curiously, hygiene was also one of the subjects, among several others.

To Jose Rizal, quality education was an indispensable requirement for personal transformation without which there could be no real social change or national redemption. Rizal came to that conclusion in the 19th century, sadly enough, after more than a hundred years, in the 21st century, we realize that our educational system has distorted Rizal's noble vision. It does not transform us for the better, much less awaken in each of us a sense of nationhood.