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The Better System?

We had guests today from an Indonesian university with which the school recently established a formal academic linkage. The guests were all university top brass, excepting the two student leaders they took along with them.

As they say, it’s really a small world. One of the university administrators, a Father Ros, lived in the Philippines for seven years and actually spent a whole month in this city while attempting to finish the thesis for his Master’s program.

He couldn’t concentrate on his writing, he said, unless he left Metro Manila. There was always somebody knocking on the door asking for a religious rite or something.

He spoke Tagalog, of course.

He did not even get any formal lessons. All he did was work with children and learn from them. “Kontî lang…” was his modest description of his Tagalog. In fact, for somebody who claimed that he was out of practice and had forgotten many of the words, he was very comfortable when he tried.

Needless to say, when you get education professionals from different countries in one table, talk invariably got around to comparing school systems. There were 16 years of basic education, we were told, in Indonesia.

That’s six more than in the Philippines.

“Your shorter system is so much better,” Fr. Ros began to say. “Say that again Father!” I interjected.

That’s just not what we are told by the so-called local experts. These experts, if anything, lament the fact that, in the region, this country has the least number of years allotted to basic education.

“The problem with our system,” Fr. Ros continued, “is that by the time the students get to university, they are so sick and tired of school and are just going through the motions.”

Amen to that! I worked in Discipline for seven years, so I know from experience that many of the least motivated seniors I had under me were actually those who were sent to school earlier than they should have been. It felt good to have this knowledge corroborated by a foreign colleague, of all people.

And just to prove the point, don’t we have outstanding professionals scattered all over the world – and often outperforming their hosts? All products, if I may add, of the mere ten-year basic education system.

Of course, there’s the little matter of college freshmen and sophomores still being malikot in their classrooms. College na, malikot pa… But leave the worrying to us. Kayâ ngâ may Discipline Office…

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