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A medical doctor’s thoughts on Philippine education

May 28, 2020 - Thursday 4:05 AM by Grace Gaston Dousel

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I have been immersed in so much material about education the past week: reading news articles, attending webinars, watching FB Live videos, listening to podcasts, discussing with educators, chatting with fellow homeschool community leaders who are also moms, reading social media posts of friends, and discussing with my own children. I came across the FB wall of my Ninang Dr. Marie Lim who was reposting the wisdom of her colleague. I found the thoughts of Dr. Joel D. Lazaro to be addressing the heart of the issue as a doctor is able to target the root cause of an illness. Here is what he said:
“Rebooting Philippine Education
Retooling the Filipino Child
Joel D Lazaro, MD
It is really such an unprecedented and uncertain time for all of us as we are confronted with a pandemic that no one in this generation has witnessed and experienced.
With all sectors and aspects of our lives, including the education of children, greatly impacted by the COVID19 pandemic, this may be the most opportune time to REBOOT Philippine Education and RETOOL the Filipino child.
Afterall, even the great Charles Darwin once said “ It is not the strongest of species nor the most intelligent that survive and prevail, but the one most adaptable to change.”
Change we must and even as President Duterte pushed the narrative and declared half in jest and half for its wisdom and practicality - “stop schooling this year”, we need to strike a balance somewhere in between and think/create a solution that is “out of the box”.
Why don’t we seize the opportunity to shift the paradigm of Philippine education by focusing on non-academic pursuits like:

·       Character formation and self discipline
·       Self help and practical living skill
·       Familial team building
·       Social and community awareness and responsibility
·       Social and play skills
·       Physical health, fitness and well being
Even only for the limited time of a pandemic, these pursuits while not necessarily taught within the confines of a typical four-walled classroom, will certainly go a long way in making the Filipino child more competent, regulated, well rounded and socially responsible individuals.”

Reading this led me to think. This doctor has certainly spent a long time in the four walls of classrooms until he earned his medical degree and yet, he is pointing out that in times like this focusing on non-academic pursuits is more essential and beneficial to the Filipino child. This has a significant implication! All the while, the four-walled classrooms and the system that built them have not truly provided an education to the Filipino child that would make him/her “competent, regulated, well rounded and socially responsible individual.” What then have we been teaching the Filipino child, whom we hail as the next leader of the country? Perhaps if only to give us a chance to reboot Philippine education and retool the Filipino child, the crisis that COVID-19 brought upon us has become a blessing in disguise!
The Filipino child can now focus on becoming a person of character capable of disciplining himself/herself.
The Filipino child can now be equipped with practical living skills like cooking a meal, sewing a button, ironing a shirt, doing the laundry, and growing a kitchen garden. This child can now help himself and survive should he/she be placed in another lockdown situation as an adult.
The Filipino child now knows his parents and siblings in a deeper way. Locked in the house for months now, he/she is now able to work with others and learn the meaning of collaboration and practice effective communication skills. This child now knows what it means to be a part of a family and how to contribute to meeting household needs.
The Filipino child is now more aware of his/her community and has become capable of engaging in society responsibly. This child prayed for frontliners in the comforts of his/her bedroom before turning in at night. This child made handmade get well cards for COVID-19 patients. This child will never take washing his/her hands for granted. This child has learned the value of family and friends whom he/she has not seen other than through a Zoom chat. This child has started to voice his/her opinion about whether he/she should go back to school, why he/she misses Teacher and classmates, and why he/she would like to have Tatay and Nanay as his/her new teachers.
This child is once again imagining because he/she can freely play again. This child now has plenty of time to read books and tap on his/her creativity to draw, role play, and pretend to be in a world that is not threatened by disease or death.
This child lives a life that is physically, mentally and emotionally well because we, the adults of his/her generation, chose to reboot our educational system and retool the Filipino child.