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Education vis-à-vis development


It’s just today that I realized how busy I had been for the past three weeks when I visited my blogs. I made it a point to update my blogs at least once a week to raise my Alexa rank. Alexa is a quick and easy way to estimate how popular your site is compared to other sites. Ratings start from 1 to 20,000,000 and even beyond. The lower the number, the better your rating is. That  has become my self imposed challenge  to test my reflexes without necessarily stressing myself.  Assessing the backlog vis-à-vis  my limits, I decided to repost my previous blogs according to their value and relevance. The following article, first published as What Education Should Be on Blogcritics two years ago, suits this particular blog.

It’s graduation season, particularly here in the Philippines. A time for jubilation of graduates and respective families. Also, a time to reflect on concepts of education and corresponding issues on the state of our educational systems.

Education as a basic right

There is a widespread global acceptance of the principle that education is a fundamental human right. This has been enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Education is therefore an essential public service. Every state or country is mandated to deliver such and take full responsibility for the good and welfare of its citizens. Gone were the ancient days when the chosen few were destined to be rulers, officers of the army, engineers, lords, teachers and priests through education. At the expense of the vast majority of peasants, laborers and serfs and their generation being deprived of such privilege.

Education as an agent of change

It has been said that the heart of education is the education of the heart. As such, education is an agent of change: change of values, as well as structures. An educated person is one who has undergone the process of transformation. From a passive spectator of the events taking place in society, an educated person has become an active participant in the affairs of his/her community.

Education and Development

Education, inevitably, leads to development. A skilled and knowledgeable citizen is a key to development. Since education produces new knowledge, ability and skills in continuous improvement in all aspects, the growth of national product is inevitable. But the contribution of education does not stop there. As Fritz Machlup noted, in his book Education and Economic Growth, “it has been taken for granted that education would increase respect for law and order and promote a climate conducive to peaceful social, political and economic development.”

As a basic right, education is supposedly an equalizer that provides opportunities for change in persons, as well as structures, thereby transforming a passive individual into an agent of societal change and subsequent development of a nation.

Such assumptions on what education should be present a bright picture of the kind of world we ought to live in. Considering the century-long progress in respective educational systems, we expect to see results, such as wrldwide literacy and subsequent development in all aspects of life.

Sadly, the present realities prove otherwise. In many instances, education continues to be a sieve which tends to separate the chaff from the grain. The expected transformation does not take place. Exploitative structures leave educated persons either perpetrators or powerless victims of systems. Katarina Tomaševski, first UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, made a compilation global report before her death.

This first global report on laws and practice in 170 countries exposes the discrepancy. What has been proclaimed as free and compulsory education is deliberately betrayed. The problem is not necessarily due to the proverbial “insufficient public resources,” but the politics involved—either the lack of political will to effect the change or the interplay of complex factors and processes dominating the world system.

The next question is why? What is the root cause of the gap between what education should be and what it is now? Activists are quick to explain the culprit: a colonial, commercialized educational system being perpetuated globally. However, others dismiss this as mere sloganeering expected from radicals. What do you think?