In ancient Philippines, children were given the rudiments of education. Such education was both academic and vocation. The father trained his sons to be warriors, hunters, fishermen, miners, lumbermen and ship builders. The mother on her part trained her daughters in cooking, gardening, serving and other household arts.
It is said that in ancient Panay, there was a barangay school called Bothoan under the charge of the teacher usually an old man. The subjects taught to the children in this barangay school were reading, writing, arithmetic, use of weapons and lubus (acquiring kinaadman or amulets).
Hence, education during that time was geared toward their needs. Because of colonization by several foreign countries and several historical events, our education underwent several changes although we also retained some of the ancient teachings which are practical even during our time.
With the country’s celebration of independence in 1946, scarcely seven decades ago, have come every aspect of educational system in line with the new status of a new nation seeking to achieve and maintain political and economic independence and to fashion a nation truly united out of social and cultural diversities.
Introduction of the Western or European System of Education
With the coming of Spain, the European system of education was introduced to the archipelago. Primary schools, colleges and universities were established in our country by the missionaries.
The principal aim of Spain in the Philippines during their regime was to make the native Filipinos obedient and God-fearing Christians. For this reason, religion was a compulsory subject at all levels – from the primary schools to the universities.
The first schools were the parochial schools opened by the missionaries in their parishes. In addition to religion, the native children in these schools were taught reading, writing, arithmetic and some vocational and practical arts subjects.
Later on, colleges for boys and girls were opened by the missionaries. These colleges were the equivalent of our high schools today. The subjects taught to the students included history, Latin, geography, mathematics and philosophy.
[blockquote type=”center”]What the Philippines needs is a realistic educational system adaptable to local conditions.[/blockquote]
There was no co-education during the Spanish times. Boys and girls studied in separate schools.
University education was started in the Philippines during the early part of the 17th century. Originally, the colleges and universities were open only to the Spaniards and those with Spanish blood (mestizos). It was only during the 19th century that these universities began accepting native Filipinos.
It is interesting to note that for nearly 300 years, education in the Philippines was the primary responsibility of the Catholic Church. The missionaries established the schools, provided the teachers and facilities and decided what should be taught. It was only in the last half of the 19th century that the government took an active part in promoting education in the colony. In 1863, a royal decree called for the establishment of a public school system in the colony.
Education under the Americans
The United States had a different approach dictated by what the Americans considered to be their principal goal in coming to the Philippines – “to educate and to train in the science of self-government.”
Consequently, it was not surprising that the United States considered educating the Filipinos as one of its top priorities in the Philippines. Even while US troops were consolidating their foothold in Manila in 1898, schools were already opened in the city. But unlike the Spaniards who neglected to propagate their language, the Americans made it a point to teach English to the Filipinos. The American soldiers were the first teachers of the Filipinos.
In January 1901, free primary education was provided and a school for Filipino teachers was established. It called for the recruitment of trained teachers in America. It abolished compulsory religious instruction.
The Americans gave bright young Filipino students opportunity to take up higher education in American colleges and universities. These Filipinos came to be known as “pensionados” for their education in the United States was financed by the government in the Philippines. Hundreds of Filipino pensionados were able to study in the US until 1928. From the ranks of these pensionadoscame the future civic, business and political leaders of our country.