It is often said, and we are often reminded, that children are amongst the most vulnerable members of our society. They look up to their elders and are keen to learn and please — sponges that have many spaces in their minds and psyches to fill. As adults, we are responsible for the shaping of the future generations and, as such, are accountable for how future adults turn out.
It is unfortunate that, in the Philippines, the youth are politicised at a very early age. In a photo shared by Facebook activist MJ Quiambao Reyes, a page from a textbook used in a Grade 2 social studies class shows the extent to which the Yellow Camp would go to disseminate its propaganda.
Accompanying images of the late former Senator Benigno ‘Ninoy’ Aquino Jr and his son and former President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III are text and imagery singing praises about the former’s martyrdom, his relationship with the latter, and a series of leading questions designed to hammer in who they are into the readers’ young minds.
The most disturbing is a poem with the title (translated in English) “Do you know Ninoy?”. The following is the full poem translated in English…
Do you know Ninoy?He is the father of NoynoyHe gave his lifeFor his belived country.
He worked and sacrificedEven while he was imprisoned.Fighting for changeEven at risk of death.
The heavens mournedWhen he was buried.Thunder rumbled loudlyLightning clapped sharply.
An important iniative concerned parents and citizens should mount is to begin to evaluate just how much damage had been done to Philippine society by these textbooks.
Observers have long warned that Philippine society suffers a bad case of intellectual bankruptcy. “An admired Filipino economist, based in New York” long ago lamented this deficit in thinking and had this to say about the Philippines’ political “debate”.
When the issues are of some significance, it’s the wrong arguments that prevail, the wrong side wins. Logic and common sense take the backseat to political arguments and the views of the poorly-educated.
Indeed it is less about how much education Filipinos receive and more about the quality of this education. The most highly-regarded skills today (or for that matter, over much of history) mainly involve problem-solving acumen. Professions like engineering and the sciences employ rigourous problem solving frameworks hinged on the scientific method where an objective mind regards and defines problems through un-coloured perspectives. In the arts, it is original and ground-breaking work that delivers the biggest bucks — not re-hashes and, in the case of the Philippines’ popular arts, poor copies of Western concepts.
The trouble with the way Filipino youngsters are raised is that they are taught what to think and not how to think.
Herein this example lies Exhibit A — but one brick in what is likely to be a vast foundation of mediocrity upon which Philippine society has been built and continues to be built.