Education for the 21st Century
Byline: MIRIAM DEFENSOR SANTIAGO
(Keynote speech at the international seminar on November 3, 2005, sponsored by the Filipino and American Educatorsa International Associations [FAME] at the Manila Hotel.)
THE Constitution, as a reflection of Filipino culture, recognizes education as the highest item in our hierarchy of values. It declares as a state policy: "The State shall give priority to educationa[bar] " It goes on to devote an entire Article to the topic of education alone, notably including the provision that: "The State shall assign the highest budgetary priority to educationa[bar] "
This is the theory, but it is not the reality. In the real world, the highest budgetary priority is given, not to education, but to payment of our foreign debt. For the 2006 budget of some R1.05 trillion, more than 30 percent will go to debt service. By comparison, education will get only some 12.3 percent of the budget. In other words, debt service will get some R340 billion, while education will get only some R119.1 billion.
I humbly submit that it is unconstitutional to give the biggest budget allotment to the debt service. The Constitution very clearly orders the government to "assign the highest budgetary priority to education." Hence, we, the citizens of this struggling Third World country, appeal to the international community: "Give us the debt relief that is our human right, so that we can devote more funds for the education of our children!" For, as the wise person said, education is the force that, more than any other, will change the future of the world.
The new horizon in education consists of higher technology in communications, computer science, the Internet highway, and so-called virtual campuses. This horizon will include a new vocabulary, including: Internet, netware, group ware, body nets, hyper-organizers, digital libraries, virtual neighborhoods, chat rooms, automated tutors, cookies, portals, cyber cafA[c]s, e-commerce, and cyber schools. All of these features are becoming part of quality and relevant education.
Changing paradigms in higher education have ushered in electronic or e-learning beyond the traditional physical classrooms. E-learners pursue advanced training or even postgraduate degrees, without leaving their home or workplace. At present, developments in e-learning technologies in the world have spurred local higher education institutions to make use of the Internet for various purposes, ranging from the promotion of courses via electronic fliers, to delivery of full courses over the Internet in the context of programmatic web initiatives. Using electronic means in delivering education has provided wider access and custom learning. But it also limits time and physical restraints.
Our global civilization is changing at a speed no one could have imagined. It is driven by technology and the electronic tools of the 21st century. It is characterized by change, change, change. Some decades ago, trade negotiations never involved the topic of education.
Today, however, the General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS) has opened up negotiations on the education sector, because under GATS, education is now part of trade services. Global institutions of higher education seek approval from WTO members to set up branch campuses, conduct on-line educational programs, and send out their faculty to teach abroad. They invoke free movement of services, labor and capital under GATS for cross-border supply of education, consumption abroad, commercial presence, and presence of natural persons in higher education. The proposals are linked with the economic agenda and the free flow of trades and services.
Education is the central part of the knowledge society, of which globalization is a key feature. The knowledge society is characterized by the growing use of technology, the development of the Internet as a marketing tool, and the global use of English as the medium of instruction.
We stand at the cusp of three paradigm shifts:
1. From national to regional education. This is also known as cross-border education or CBE. It refers to the linkages among higher education providers. It has made us realize that graduates should be trained, not only for the national, but also for the global market.
2. From state-controlled to open education. Until the recent past, our people viewed education as a process of developing a set of skills, attitudes, and values required for citizenship and effective participation in society. But today, more people view education as a "commodity to be purchased" by a consumer in order to "build a skill set." Education now tends to be viewed as a product to be used in a marketplace, to be bought and sold by academic institutions. Multinational corporations have transmogrified themselves into business and other providers.
The danger with this paradigm is that foreign universities and colleges are emerging on the Internet, without registration or licenses. These open universities are entering the education market ungoverned.
3. From teacher-centered to learner-centered education. In the classroom, lectures are now likely to be technology-driven. For example, teachers now lecture with the aid of videos and computers. They are even replaced by TV monitors and computers. The result is that teachers become mere facilitators in the teachinglearning process.
New educational systems
According to the 2005 UNESCO Policy Series, there are three new educational systems:
1. School-based management system. This system seeks to provide greater freedom and autonomy for schools. It departs from the old system of centralization by the state. It seeks to empower schools and at the same time, acknowledges that schools should assume more responsibility.
2. Outcome system. This system requires higher education institutions to assess the impact of learning. For example, the university should assess student performance, not only within the campus, but also across different school systems. Benchmarking, meaning the establishment of a standard of excellence and achievement, will be introduced.
3. Knowledge society and global economy system. This system features the liberalization of higher education services, and expanded opportunity for transnational education providers. To be responsive and relevant, schools should be knowledgeable on universal thrusts and goals.
Philippines as knowledge center
The Philippines aspires to be the knowledge center in the Asia-Pacific region. To achieve this goal, the Philippine government must ensure global standards in our educational system. We already know that by the end of this decade, the Philippines will be in a position to help alleviate the global teacher shortage, by exporting Filipino teachers in nursing, the sciences, and mathematics. Our clients will be the countries of the United States, United Kingdom, China, and neighbor countries in the ASEAN region.
More specifically, by 2010, Canada will need 10,000 hotel workers, because the Olympic Games will be held there. By 2011, Canada will also need 113,000 nurses. In this decade, England will need 90,654 nurses, to replace those who will retire. Also in this decade, Japan and China will need professionals in various service sectors.
Purpose of education
As we look toward a new horizon, we need to be reminded that the basic purpose of education is the pursuit of excellence, and the cultivation of excellent people. While there is merit in the concept of the common man as a reaction against privilege and social injustice, education is committed to the concept of the uncommon men and women.
Education is the sine qua non of enlightened democratic leadership. In our country we have some people who suffer from the crab mentality, who automatically belittle and pull down to their level, someone better than they are. This unfortunate phenomenon proves that by nature, people are not equal. But by education, we can give them equal opportunity and equal justice under the law. The educational system should encourage, reward, and use the best men and women we have; for in this century, only the best will do.
In conclusion, I congratulate all the teachers present here, for all your immortal teaching of the next generation. As the poet Edwin Markham said:
There is a destiny that makes us brothers;
None goes his way alone;
All that we send into the lives of others
Comes back into our own.…
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: Education for the 21st Century. Contributors: Not available. Newspaper title: Manila Bulletin. Publication date: November 4, 2005. Page number: Not available. © 2009 Manila Bulletin Publishing Corp. COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group.