The Philippine society today is different in many respects from what is was fifty years ago. The Philippines is now politically independent – in fact a full-fledged Republic. We now have direct relations with most foreign countries including Red China and Russia on the basis of equality, reciprocity and dignity. Because of our beliefs and commitments to the democratic way of life we are now ranged against the other half of this divided world in a conflict which is ideological, economic, educational, political, moral, cultural and religious. Our population has grown steadily from a few millions in 1900 to over 60 million as projected by the National Census and Statistics by 1989. But the production of our food supplies has not kept pace with the unabated increase of population. This imbalance has given birth to many intricate social problems the solution of which demand utmost resourcefulness in leadership and unflagging support in fellowship.
The increase in population, unaccompanied by widespread enlightenment and a corresponding improvement in the economic position of the individual and the greater part of the society, generated pressures and created more problems never before encountered by our people. We now have a growing a middle class – one not quite sizeable but certainly growing in number, in quality and in influence. An increasing number of Filipino physicians, nurses, educators, technicians, researchers and government career men are now going abroad and receiving advanced training in foreign countries. Different means of communication, transportation and travel in our country have increased in number and have become faster and cheaper. Today, we have more newspapers, magazines, books and radio receiving sets. We also have televisions. There are more movie houses today both in the cities and in the provinces where foreign and locally produced pictures are regularly scheduled.
We now have thousands of both public and private schools, colleges and universities. Illiteracy has been reduced considerably. Various industries, some locally capitalized, and others foreign-owned, have grown in our countryside. Medical science has brought to our people the blessings and risks in the use of new wonder drugs. Curriculum developers must have in mind that the problems of society are the problems of education. Education can not be divorced from the economic, political and social realities of a country. Any society in order to progress economically, must progress educationally. Industry needs to indicate the direction and dimensions of educational progress for manpower development. The question is, does such hold true in the Philippines or does it follow a reverse pattern, that is, that educational progress runs ahead of economic development? Is our curriculum relevant to the present society? Are our curricular offerings so prepared that their goals are made relevant to the economic demands of the society, not only for the present but also for the years to come?
Education must enrich society, improve the living conditions of its people, and make possible its optimum development. Herein lies the importance of the orientation, organization, enrichment, adaptation and development of the local curriculum. The curricular offerings must be made relevant to the economic demands off society if we are to achieve the goal of producing people who are to provide direction and guidance in the operation of commerce and industry. Technical skills, researchers for the discovery of new products, constant improvement of technological procedures and needed managerial pool must be taken into consideration by curriculum developers in the Philippines. Stress on studies and activities, related to history, values, social and economic life from the viewpoint of the Filipinos are factors for consideration. The curriculum must provide abundant materials to promote the unity of the people such that it should embody the latest gains in Science since it must give an education for effective participation in the modern society.
Most of our degree courses are patterned abroad without adequate local study as basis. The curriculum must keep up with the changing political, economic, and social conditions of the country. In the New Society, attempts have been made to reorient the curriculum in both content and emphasis on liberal education providing balance between academic learnings and work experiences for the development of leaders and creators of job opportunities. The new program is being redirected to ensure a greater recognition of the value of hard and honest work, unlike in the past when the emphasis was on languages and academic excellence. Economic development plan must be taken into consideration in order to draw guidelines for curriculum development. The Filipino’s increasing dislike for colonial mentality is an indication that the curriculum must be redirected to Philippine culture. Different groups have arisen to voice ambitious development goals.
Our national history and character, socio-economic structure and broad social welfare measures have been emphasized. Much of the burden of bringing such goals to reality has fallen upon the schools. Evidently, if the schools are to carry out these changes, they must effect widespread curriculum change. Regarding this matter, we must recognize that the Philippines’ chief characteristic is her cultural diversity, that her strength does not lie in being a tasteless, odorless melting pot. In the task of redirection to Philippine culture, the initial thrust would probably be to prepare textbooks and teaching materials oriented to Philippine setting, based on native business, economics, political and social conditions. Because the Philippines is basically agricultural and there is urgent need for an expansion of agricultural production and mechanized farming, curriculum developers must take this into consideration. The curriculum must prepare the Filipinos to meet the growing agricultural needs.