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Colonial Education and National Development in Philippine Education

There is a strong argument between the colonial education and the nationalistic aspirations in the areas for cultural preservation, economic emancipation and political independence. It is true that through the years, nationalism in education is still an idea but has never been fulfilled because of the colonial minds, attitudes and policy that certainly outward the Philippine identity with the interest at variance with that of the ruling power.

The colonial education exists against the dominance of the ruling power of Spaniards. The education as the Filipinos thought served as tool to fight ignorance and the tyranny of Spain. While the Filipinos were struggling for democracy, here came the Americans as saviors. Their education comfortably resulted to survive politically at first for the Filipinos. But eventually, the nationalistic goals draw off from the colonial objectives of the American education of preserving and expanding their control. The introduction of English as the medium of instruction became a new way of life to the Filipinos, starting to alienate themselves to their traditions. Thus, America’s political institutions were freely and capably transplanted in the minds of Filipinos through colonial education.

Apparently, the Western values and thoughts smoothly sailed in Philippine education. The American authorities even successfully controlled the country using education as their tool for colonialism. The foreign control distinctively strengthened by the colonial minds of the Filipinos for industrialization and power also, that US is a strong country and saved from the threat of foreign domination. US became their model for global upright and security that unconsciously underplayed nationalism. The colonial interests distorted the nationalistic outlook.

Tracing the educational history of the Filipinos, there is a great adoption of rules and policy of the US education. The colonial economy begins from the control and influence of the Americans. Then this existence started from the educational goals of American education. The use of English has plagued Philippine education, which is a controversial issue until today, the economic field Filipinos believe that proficiency in global language can give positive effects on economic goals.

Technologically speaking, the present education gives comprehensive articulation of thoughts to survive from this global challenge. We could not deny the fact that ICT fosters colonialism in thoughts that confronts the traditional materials and orientation for survival. The educational challenge is expanding its serious constructs to the further development of the environment and support for economic lines of survival.

Yes, we could say that we are independent physically but not psychologically. Our free will to survive should conform to the nationalistic needs and goals of our country. The government shall make educational reforms first within the internal linkages drawing out to its external affairs. The education shall be designed to produce Filipinos with national concerns and patriotic attitude who will be the master of their own land. It shall distort the foreign influence and virtues. It must only connect and communicate with its outside world but shall create its own identity to assure national survival. It must give clear directions for patriotic value without too much emphasis on the colonial forms.

Foreign languages shall be taught for economic survival and communication but mother tongue shall be mastered first. There is no opposition against learning other languages. But it is better if the native language shall be learned and used with the national demands to surpass colonial mentality. The foreign languages shall only support the instruction but not totally take place the means for Filipinos to survive in education.


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Marichele Merculio

Marichele M. Merculio, Education Program Specialist II in the Schools Division of Nueva Ecija. She is 35 years old, an English curriculum writer, division trainer in English, Campus Journalism and Indigenous Peoples Education (IPED). She finished Master of Arts in Language and Literature at Central Luzon State University.

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