Thursday, November 8, 2007

National Book Month: Literacy Begins in the Family

As we anticipate the glittering, sparkling, shivering month of December; as we look forward to the nine (9) dawn masses in preparation for the main event - the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ - the Department of Education points to an extremely significant ingredient in literacy - reading books. This year, the theme goes back to the basic: the family as the first teacher of every child.

Filipinos very well know the model of this necessity - Dona Teodora Agoncillo, the mother of our national hero. A very famous story I used in my graduation address in a preparatory school, about the the mother and its baby moth. The story goes "the baby moth was attracted by the flame from the lamp used by Dona Teodora while teaching the little boy Jose to read. The mother moth told its baby not to fly very near the flame because it will get burned. The baby moth did not heed its mother so its wings got caught in the flame, fell and died.

It seems that Jose was not interested in the task, so the mother used the lesson about the moth to drive to her point - disobedient children will be punished. This was not just teaching how to read, but teaching good behavior.

The family,as the basic unit of society has the duty and responsibility to educate its offsprings starting from the womb. The foundation years (1-6 yars old) of every child is significant stage where the child is likened to a sponge in absorbing all knowledge it is subjected to. It is therefore obligatory on the part of the family; in fact the Constitution provides for this so that no child will grow illiterate.

It is sad that in public schools, especially in high school, so many young people are being abandoned by its family in this aspect. They treat the school as an orphanage: after enrolling their child, who cares? The students who consistently receive poor grades are products of such kind of family.

This is one major cause why quality education can never be achieved in public schools in the country. Parents always point to the government, teachers for the failure of their children. When education became free in secondary public schools, graduates became "half-educated". They cannot pass the national achievement test. Every year, the result of the national assessment test declines. With free public education, the number of graduates increase every year. How many get employed? How many can speak fluent English?

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