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“The Problem within the Educational System of the Philippines: Paulo Freire’s Philosophy

on Education”

Abstract

This paper offers a critical analysis of Paulo Freire’s philosophy on contemporary education
which implies his ideas on reforming education through applying a radical change in the aims
of education, the relationship structure, methodology, the materials and assessment strategies.
Paulo Freire’s ideas are widespread worldwide and have been used as guidelines for reforming
educational programmes for many disciplines. This paper provides a critical reflection and show
the significance Paulo Freire philosophy of education significant and therefore it is worth
considering for reforming higher education here in the Philippines.

Keywords: Paulo Freire, educational system, Liberating Education, Banking Education,


Dialogical Problem-Posing, Philippine education, reformation

Introduction

Paulo Freire (1921‐1997) is a Brazilian educator, activist and philosopher during the second half
of the 20th century. His ideas on empowering and democratizing education were very far
reaching. Freire addressed the education system through proposing a methodology “Dialogical
Problem-Posing”; contrasted with the traditional authoritarian approach “Banking Education”.
He observes that generally speaking education is suffering from narration sickness. It is
characterized by a culture of silence or mutism. It is largely based on what Freire calls a banking
education which is fundamentally monological. Dialogical Problem-Posing on the other hand,
where the teacher does not deposit fixed knowledge to the students but reality is posed as a
problem for the students to think about, question, critique and transform.

Liberating Education

Freire, sees education as non-neutral. For him education can either be an instrument of
domination or liberation. Educative processes control people where a dominant culture of
silence. In this culture people are taught to accept what is been given to them by the ruling elite
without questioning. Their understanding of the society is limited to what they are taught and
told to accept and believe. Controlling education denies people to think for themselves and
become builders of their own destinies. It will not provide them with critical perception of their
social which would enable them to know what needs changing and actually take action to
change. While education that liberates, shatter the silence make the people aware the condition
and their rights to participate in social change and transformation.

Freire ideas on the non-neutrality of education can be illustrated by comparing “functional


literacy” and “Freire’s literacy”. Functional literacy means possession or acquisition of literary
skills that is required of a person to become efficient and productive citizen and worker
according to the government requirements. This is more on the economic side. This focuses on
the skills and knowledge to the learners to make them more efficient and productive. It is created
to engage in economic activity or vocation. The method that are being used here are one-sided or
only suitable for the learners which are selected. In short, functional literacy leads to further
oppression of the people. It creates the culture of silence in which the masses have no voice and
therefore are denied the chance to participate in changing their social reality. On the other hand,
Freier literacy circumvents the weaknesses of functional literacy. Freire's literacy involves the
masses or peasants in the mastery of literacy skills and not just a few selected groups of learners.
The learners are taught to read and write in a meaningful and critical way in order to increase
their ability to take charge of their own development. Freire's literacy enables the learners to
intervene in their social reality. Therefore, Freire’s literacy provides the people a sense of self
and their own worth. It is a process of education that enhances a sense of personal and cultural
identity.

Freire’s ideas on education discussed above contribute on the understanding of the process of
education and social change and therefore they have still worth and relevance modern society.
Liberating education gives freedom and capacity of people to decide their own destinies. It is a
critical and active process through which the culture of silence is overcome and shattered. This
kind of education is more relevant in the Philippines today. The systems of education that we
have are designed by the elites that capture their minds. That would not enable the person to
decide by their own. Freire tried to establish a just society on his ideas on education by
conscientization and dialogue of both parties. The development of both individuals and the
society should involve the creation of just social structures through the process of liberating
education.
Banking Education

According to Freire (1974) banking education implies manipulating learners through forcing
them to conform to the objectives of the dominant elite who do not wish to lose their power. By
accepting their passive role in the learning process, learners encourage more manipulation to be
practiced upon them. Lankshear (1993) described banking education as a means for maintaining
an oppressive social order because the more students allow teachers to deposit information in
their minds; the less they can attain the critical consciousness. Students who are taught through
banking education are likely to internalize the same rigid patterns of relationship structure of
paternal authority. This explains the prevalence of this model of education in many parts of the
world.

Freire (1973) criticized the content of the traditional curriculum of banking education
because it could never lead to developing students’ critical consciousness. This is because
it is not connected with students’ lives, but focusing on teaching isolated words and
lacking in concrete activity. He also criticized the external imposition of this curriculum
on schools, proposing mutual participation between teachers and students as an alternative
approach. To Freire, evaluation is an important part of the learning process. However, the
assessment procedures of banking education which aim at silencing constructive diversity,
constructive criticism, are manipulation tools used by teachers. Freire’s rejection of these
procedures was based on their subjective nature and thus, the possibility of biased
judgements. He suggested modifying these procedures to enable the critical teachers to assess
students with a sense of serving freedom not of domestication (Freire, 1998: 104-125). As
top-down teaching, a representative of ‘banking education’, which indicates the absence
of democratization still exists in many schools e.g. Philippines, serious and sincere effort
with well-planned programmes are urgently needed to democratize these schools. Freire
(1992) suggested steering schools towards democratization through introducing innovations
into curriculum organization. These innovations should imply more human and democratic
relationships between all parts involved in the learning process (teachers, students,
administrators, parents, curriculum designers, policy-makers. As vertical patterns of
relationship structures do not foster democratic educations, conditions for decision-making
of a dialogic approach need to be established before introducing these innovations. One
significant condition needed is changing the administrative structures of centralized power
which currently exist. Freire’s approach to change argues for the possibility of integrating
both paternalistic cultural traditions and the new conditions of the transitions, as both are
favourable to the development of democratic mentality. If Filipino teachers are truly
interested in making their classes more democratic, more participatory, they need to
respond to Freire’s (1972) invitation to reject the banking concept of education and to replace it
with ‘dialogic problem-posing ’approach. Policy-makers and curriculum designers are also
invited to adapt Freire’s ideas on curriculum (horizontal relationships, freedom, authority,
culture, relevance, identity, motivation, self-esteem, self-confidence, responsibility,
subjectivity, autonomy, prior knowledge, critical thinking, and communication) in making
their decisions. A participatory problem-posing dialogue including teachers, students,
parents, administrators and educational authorities can be useful for making decisions about
these issues. The possibility of applying Freire’s ideas on empowering education is worth
investigating in the Philippine context.

Dialogic Problem-Posing Approach

Freire’s methodology of teaching and learning describes the class is a meeting place where
knowledge is sought, not transmitted. Freire (1974) argued for an educational approach which
enables people to discuss and intervene courageously the problems of their context. It
should enhance students’ confidence and strength to address their own problems, instead of
accepting solutions or decisions offered by others. The main principle of his approach is to
present knowledge problematically in a problem-posing dialogue which offers more
opportunities for students to participate actively and to reflect critically.

The best way to maintain reflective and meaningful communication inside classrooms is
problematizing knowledge. Problematization is a dialectic process characterized by true
and equal engagement of all participants. However, mutual respect and understanding,
confidence, willingness to take risks, cooperation are essential conditions for the
communication act to be successful (Freire , 1972).
Philippine Educational System

It can be presumed that Freire’s thoughts would find an application in a country like the
Philippines that has a long history of oppression and domination. Since in the past, our
country is under the colonization particularly on the American occupation. The American has a
great influenced on us Filipino; they contribute a lot of development in terms of economic and
most specifically in education. But behind of all the goodness that we have gained from the
Americans, the Filipino people are become blind on the ideology that is lurking on their interest.
Their influenced leads Filipinos more dependent to them, which results us trapped or cannot
mobilized on our own thinking. That is the reason why Filipinos are weak and vulnerable when
comes to planning and decision-making, because of our dependency we cannot stand on our
own. Until today, we are still adopted American system of education. The way of education
which is monological, (e.g. spoon-feeding, vertical relationship) wherein the students are just
simply treated as object (you are only listening without cooperating) the way the American did in
the past.

Conclusion

Education should not be constraining but liberate the mind of the person to think more critical.