As a basic right, education is supposedly an equalizer that provides opportunities for change in persons, as well as structures, thereby transforming a passive individual into an agent of societal change and subsequent development of a nation.
Such assumptions on what education should be present a bright picture of the kind of world we ought to live in. Considering the century-long progress in respective educational systems, we expect to see results, such as wrldwide literacy and subsequent development in all aspects of life.
Sadly, the present realities prove otherwise. In many instances, education continues to be a sieve which tends to separate the chaff from the grain. The expected transformation does not take place. Exploitative structures leave educated persons either perpetrators or powerless victims of systems. Katarina Tomaševski, first UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, made a compilation global report before her death.
This first global report on laws and practice in 170 countries exposes the discrepancy. What has been proclaimed as free and compulsory education is deliberately betrayed. The problem is not necessarily due to the proverbial “insufficient public resources,” but the politics involved—either the lack of political will to effect the change or the interplay of complex factors and processes dominating the world system.
The next question is why? What is the root cause of the gap between what education should be and what it is now? Activists are quick to explain the culprit: a colonial, commercialized educational system being perpetuated globally. Others dismiss this as mere sloganeering, expected from radicals.
I had the privilege to do some research on this issue when pursuing a masters degree in the premier state university in the Philippines a decade ago. Although it focuses on the Philippine educational system, recent updates show commonalities in other countries. Details in the next post.