Education is generally described as “the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction.” It is a basic human right because it is considered one of the fundamental guarantees that enable an individual to live his full potential as a human being. Various international agreements entered into by the Philippines, including the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, state that the state has a responsibility to guarantee the people’s right to education. Our 1987 Constitution itself explicitly provides for government to “protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels” and “take appropriate steps to make such education accessible to all.” The constitution also states that “the highest budgetary priority” shall be assigned to education. Education is given a high value in the country because it is perceived by the masses as a stepping stone out of poverty, it is imagined by the middle classes as a way to climb to a higher social status, and is used by the ruling classes to reinforce their influence over the populace. Education, more importantly, is of great importance for nation-building because it can mold the consciousness of the youth and the people and direct them towards particular purposes. Education, in this sense, can be either reactionary or liberatory. It is reactionary if it functions to defend an exploitative and oppressive social order by “prevent[ing] the people from gaining critical awareness, from ‘reading’ critically their reality.” Education can be liberating if it seeks the opposite and works for social transformation.
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