Sunday, September 7, 2008

Formative education

A need for a formative education

Past events show that there is a need for renewed and enhanced values formation in the Philippines today. Most if not all of our socio-political problems have to do with the lack of values. Ask anyone about the number one problem in the Philippine economy today and most of them would say corruption within and outside of government. We are currently the most corrupt country within the whole of Asia and are probably at the top ten most corrupt countries in the world. A fact that the current government is loath to admit.

A look of our funds that should go to basic services go to debt servicing and (lost to) corruption. According to the Transparency and Accountability Network (TAN), an international NGO, as much as 40% of funds to certain projects are lost to corruption. This is actually the reason why our bridges and roads crack. Our roads, for example, are actually below international standards. All one has to do is to visit another South East Asian country to see that their roads actually don’t crack. Because commissions eat away at funded projects the proper amount of materials are usually found wanting. To make up for the additional cost of doing business or constructing infrastructure in the Philippines contractors end up sacrificing the quality of their projects just so that our officials would have their unfair share.

Corrupt practices range from the exorbitant commissions that the bag men of government officials demand, to the tong paid to line agency employees just to get the licenses and the like on time. Smaller businesses also have to pay tong or protection money to keep their businesses safe. I actually suspect that bigger businesses do the same as well.

Romulo Neri said it himself when he declared that the government is actually run by the oligarchs of the land. He said that the problem of corruption is a “systemic dysfuntionality” and that even the president is a victim of this corrupt system. But reports have come in to show that the president’s family and her men are actually benefiting from corruption as well. One of the reasons kuno for the government’s insistence on the Moa in Mindanao is the money that they stand to make with mining ventures lined up within the proposed Bansang Moro Judicial entity. If ever there are victims to corruption in this land it would be the people including the business sector who have everything to gsin if corruption is minimized in the Philippines.

Fro the business angle, a lot of investors shy away from doing business within the country due to the amount of corruption that they would have to deal with. Potential investors have told of their sad experiences in trying to deal with government officials, from congresspersons all the way down to barangay officers, when they try to put up projects in the Philippines. Local businessmen know this as well. Even the proprietors of small and medium scale businesses have to give a little “good will” money every now and then just to keep the businesses running smoothly.

Corruption is not just a business problem. It lies at the very roots of our values system as a people. We have grown apathetic you see and we tend to see corruption as the norm rather than the abomination that it really is. Government propagandists and spin doctors have succeeded in convincing the people that everybody is corrupt and that there is no choice but to deal with this problem by giving in. But corruption is never okay, even if a lot of people are actually engaged in it.

Try to imagine how much stronger our economy will be if corruption is actually kept to the minimum. The money that would go to basic services would strengthen the local markets and make business a lot easier to conduct.

The only way that we can succeed in eliminating corruption in our societies is to go back the basics and to bring in values formation to the fore front of our educational efforts. But how can we come up with good formation when some schools, or at least some of their teachers, can’t even be honest during PAASCU and similar education?

Our educational system began to lose its focus on values and formation when government policies placed too much emphasis on technical learning. This happened during martial law years when the government began to place more importance to technical skills at the expense of the humanities, nationalism, and morality. The result is what we see today. A people alienated from their own identity and values that make them good citizens.

What we have today is too much apathy and cynicism. Even the bishops, some of them anyway, have been corrupted to some extent. How can we therefore deal with corruption and the immoralities within our midst when many of us have lost the interest to pursue a more honest and caring way of life?

It might be too late for the present generation to regain its touch on morality though. The best thing to do then would be to focus on the future leaders of the land. We have to put into place more effort to come up with a more balanced and holistic education within our system soon. We need to take another look at the role of the humanities in our educational system once more. Better yet, we must indigenize the humanities to make it our very own. In other words we have to look inot our “diwa” as a people and to regain our “kagandahan ng loob”. In this way our people might become more human again. As such we would veer away from apathy and work together to create systems that are more compassionate and more business friendly in the end.

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