Once again, the educational system is facing tough issues it has to solve once and for all. First is the proposal to add more years in high school and the elementary. Second is the controversial introduction of sex education to the young.
As an educator, I think I have to have a stand. Not that it matters that much but I believe we all have to make our voices heard for after all, that is the true essence of a democracy.
I have reservations about the first one. Will adding a year or two solve the dilemma of the students not learning enough? I don’t think so. Adding a few more years will not ensure quality education. What it will do is delay the graduation of the student and make education more inaccessible to the poor. I believe we already have all the subjects to prepare the young for college work. What we do not have is the right formula to make the system work. What we need is to reinvent the educational system. What we need to do is to create a curriculum that will address our needs. Right now, most of the curricula we follow are those created elsewhere. As such, these curricula were made by their framers having in mind their own set of values, the intellect and temperament of their young, thinking that what is true to them is just as true with us.
Still, the curriculum, whatever it is that we shall adopt, is not the root of the problem. The real culprit to our educational system is poverty. To a starving family, the education of its young takes last precedence. The young one has to help the parents eke out a living. The number of out of school youth is increasing each year as more and more Filipino families fall into the depths of poverty. Those who managed to go to school do not have enough resources. They are malnourished and could not think straight because they have other more “important” things to think about. The books the government provides are minimal and are even erroneous.
Public school teachers are underpaid. As such, we cannot attract the brightest to teach the young. Teachers, as a matter of fact, even opt to go abroad and be domestic helpers in order to make both ends meet. There is nothing more pathetic than having an educational force where the blind is leading the blind.
What we should do is eradicate poverty or at least make the poor have at least a decent life. Then, they can dream again for a better future.
As for the second, I think we as adults “know” too much that we fear that what they shall teach the young is what we know. What we have learned so far is from our peers who are in the dark themselves. We fear that the lessons shall be so graphic and lurid that we fear it will turn our young into sex slaves. When I was growing up, since I was brought up in a catholic school, I never knew about the birds and the bees. I was shocked when friends of mine talked about sex. I thought having children was God sent. That it was natural for married couples to have children as they are given freely as a result of matrimony. Needless to say that everybody laughed at me and my ignorance.
Sex education should be taught by the parents. True, but how many among us have taught our children about the birds and the bees? I have no qualms of teaching my boys that but I had to admit, I was very hesitant to talk about it with my daughters. One time, my eldest daughter who was in Grade 6 told me she saw two dogs who were conjoined twins that were attached at both ends. I couldn’t answer and told her to ask her mom instead.
Some people have turned the issue into a question on morality. I have yet to see the modules they plan to teach but I shall give the authorities the benefit of the doubt. I don’t think they shall go into graphic details when they teach the subject. I am thinking it shall be scientific and scholarly and matter-of-factly. Will teaching about sex at an early age make the young promiscuous? I don’t think so. It will still depend upon the upbringing they have at home. Pre-marital sex is happening today and yet these children have never had sex education during their youth. The thing is, they will do it just the same. It is an urge brought about by curiosity, sometimes, it is borne out of rebellion for the parents. There have been teen age marriage that happened because they are not happy inside their own homes and wanted to get out. Of course, that is a generalization and a very bad example to prove a point. However, it does happen. The point is, teaching the young about where they came from will not make them promiscuous or immoral. It is how they shall be brought up and what kind of moral values they shall acquire.
Information should be about imparting knowledge not power. Together with knowledge should be the right to choose and having to choose wisely. Withholding information and telling someone how to live based on what another knows is as immoral as sin. This should be the essence of sex education.