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Education for Intelligence, Intelligence for Education

Schools are supposed to be havens of hope. When we think of a school, we think of that laterally lengthy structure with a pole on the middle, with a waving flag. (The building has to be long to accommodate a row of classrooms and corridors and hallways.)There would be manicured gardens around. It would be nice if there were a playground somewhere. One would probably remember childhood friends with frequent cheer. The teacher and the principal were epitome of conduct and correctness. The school evokes concepts of cooperation in a community. Yes, perhaps at some point in time, we have heard of accounts of abuse, controversies of corruption or issues of inefficiency. But our psyche would be quick to brush them off. Such stains do not have a place in the serenity of a school.

Apparently, the school system did not want itself to be left out of the trend of debates on overpriced and/or substandard personal protective equipment for health workers, which plagued the dusk of the Duterte administration. Late though it was in the bandwagon, DepEd had to play its part with overpriced and substandard laptops for teachers. (Remember when laptops, tablets and smart phones were as scarce as white sugar and white onions are now because education and employment suddenly went online?) It was thought to be a bright idea to give free laptops to DepEd teachers. Sen Allan Peter Cayetano pointed the undeniable irregularity and merits of the funds to have been given directly to the teachers. After all, are not chalk allowance and clothing allowance given in the form of cash directly to teachers?

If a student had been recently suspected of cheating, would it not be logical for the examination proctor to be paying more attention to him/her before, while and after he/she takes the test? After all, this kid is alleged to have done something wrong. Let’s keep a closer eye on him/her just to make sure he/she’s not really doing any hanky-panky. But surprisingly and illogically, even while the prefect of discipline is still conducting the investigation, the proctor lets the student take the test home out of “courtesy”. Would it not have been proper to consider all issues to account to make sure that nothing like the laptop issue happens again? But it seems that our congressmen are too courteous to perform standard operating procedures.

Although, we commonly understand “intelligence” as the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills, it could also be understood as the collection of information of military or political value. Wait, let me wrap my head on this one. Why do educators need funds for the collection of information that is militarily and politically valuable? Will teachers engage in military operations or political exercises? I think if educators need to collect information for the advancement of their operations, that is called “research”, and not intelligence. I think teachers should be developing the “intelligence” of learners, and not engage in “intelligence” gathering operations. Furthermore, intelligence (in the second definition) is gathered in the context of military or political opposition. What is education’s oppositions? Dropouts and failing grades? Supposedly, the fund was for security and surveillance. Security against what? Child kidnappers in white vans? Surveillance of what? Competition of private schools?

This penchant towards “intelligence”, “security” and surveillance” seems to be in alignment with the push for the restoration of ROTC. I guess, when someone has militaristic agenda, the whole theme would inevitably be militaristic, as if we’re on guard for any enemy attack while delivering lessons. I tried to look for documented reports on the Vice President’s rationale on this thrust towards reviving the reserved officers training corps, but I could not get a sure statement. Some supporters say that it intends to promote patriotism and discipline. Was ROTC not abolished due to abuse and corruption?

While there’s a push for confidential funds and ROTC, funds for SPED were slashed. In case you’re not familiar, SPED is the education program for children with disability, for children with visual impairment, hearing impairment, autism, intellectual disability and other special needs. I don’t have enough space in this column to explain how and why children with special needs necessitate more funds than learners in regular classes. So, what’s the direction of education now? More support for the confidential and none for the children who are special? Shall we take those crutches so we could carve them to rifles for reservists? A person’s attitude towards the less privileged is an indication of his/her character. In the same way, a nation’s policy towards the less privileged is indication of its character.

“But I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you.” Job 12:3


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