I came across this article and it was beautifully written by Jon E. Royeca.
Education: Rizal’s Supreme Aspiration
Jose Rizal valued learning so much that the education of Filipinos emerged from being one of the dreams of his youth to become his supreme aspiration during his adulthood.
In 1876, when he was a 15-year-old student at the Ateneo Municipal of Manila, he wrote the poem Por la educación recibe lustre la Patria (Education Gives Luster to the Motherland), which affirmed that education was an instrument that “inspires an enchanting virtue and puts the country in the lofty seat of endless glory” and that whoever procured it may rise until the height of honor � (Rizal’s Poems, Centennial Edition, Manila: Jose Rizal National Centennial Commission, 1962, pp. 12, 13). Since he was only a teen-ager, his keen desires for his motherland’s education had always been in his mind.
His first novel, the Noli Me Tangere (Berlin, 1887) sought radical changes in the country’s educational system, such as new curricula that would suit the people’s needs; more schools, books, and instructional equipment; better teaching methods; and good teachers and good benefits to them. It sought the teaching of both local and Spanish languages in order that pupils would understand what were being taught to them. It also asked the removal of the lash as the severe punishment to students who could not memorize and recite a whole catechism book in Spanish (without even understanding a single word of it).
On March 31, 1890, while in Brussels, he told in a letter to his Austrian friend Ferdinand Blumentritt:� “Yes, I believe that the time is approaching when I can return to the Philippines. Then, when I am already there, you will come with your whole family and you will live with me. I have a large library. I shall order a little house built on a hill. Then I shall devote myself to the sciences, I shall read and write history, I shall establish a school, and if you can stand the climate, you will be its director. Then we shall rest and devote our strength to the education of the people, which is my supreme aspiration � (The Rizal-Blumentritt Correspondence, Centennial Edition, Part 1, Manila: Jose Rizal National Centennial Commission, 1961, pp. 343-344).
By that time, Rizal was already a matured 28-year-old young professional. His views on education had ripened too. It was now his supreme aspiration.
He knew where he would begin the education of the people. It would be in his hometown of Calamba, which had hills, plains, streams, and forests, and which was facing Laguna Lake. Its calm environment was very conducive to learning. The large library was their family library, which had more than 1,000 volumes of books, aside from scholarly journals and periodicals.
His writings revealed that his aspiration would:
1. Awaken and prepare the mind of the child for every good and desirable ideas -� love for honor, sincere and firm character, clear mind, clean conduct, noble action, love for one’s fellowman, and respect for God (Jose Rizal, Political and Historical Writings, Centennial Edition, Manila: National Heroes Commission, 1964, p. 60).
2. Teach love of country because “of all loves, it is the greatest, the most heroic, and the most disinterested � (Rizal’s Prose, Centennial Edition, Manila: Jose Rizal National Centennial Commission, 1962, p. 18).
3. Study history because “to foretell the destiny of a nation, it is necessary to open the book that tells of her past� (Political and Historical Writings, p. 130)
4. Stir studies similar to the nosce te ipsum (know thyself) that gives the true concepts of one’s self and drives nations to do great things � (The Rizal-Blumentritt Correspondence, Part 1, pp. 71-72).
5. And seek virtues that distinguish and adorn free peoples (ibid., p. 298).
While staying in Hong Kong in December 1891, he wanted to start a portion of his aspiration by building a school.
In a paper titled Colegio Moderno (Modern College), Rizal described how his school would look like. That school was an institution that would form and educate young men of good family and means in accordance with the demands of modern times and circumstances � (Miscellaneous Writings of Dr. Jose Rizal, National Heroes Commission Edition, Manila: National Heroes Commission, 1964, pp. 141-144).
It would be composed of competent officials, efficient teachers, and carefully screened pupils. The curriculum was rigid; discipline was to be strictly imposed; and every month, the parents or guardians would be informed about their children’s studies, attitude, progress, and health (ibid., p. 144).
The subjects to be taught were morals, religion, hygiene, natural and civil laws, mathematics, physics, chemistry, geography, natural history, political economy, world and Philippine history, logic, Spanish rhetoric and poetics, and Spanish, English, French, German, Chinese, and Tagalog languages. There would be sports like gymnastics, fencing, equitation, and swimming. Music, drawing, and dancing would also be taught (ibid., p. 141).
That boarding school was for primary and secondary students like his alma mater, the Ateneo (Rizal’s Correspondence with Fellow Reformists, Centennial Edition, Manila: National Heroes Commission, 1963, p. 521).
In it, Rizal would not run a prejudiced education because he would not allow his school to have Spanish priests as teachers who bellowed at their Filipino students, lectured them with blasphemies against the Filipino race, and used inadequate techniques of instruction. He would make it a melting pot of knowledge and expertise.
However, things were not to turn in his favor. In early 1891, the Spanish Dominican priests in Calamba expelled from their lands and homes the Rizal family and other residents of that town, subjecting many of them to poverty and starvation (Letters Between Rizal and Family Members, Centennial Edition, Manila: National Heroes Commission, 1964, pp. 323-324).
Rizal returned to the country on June 26, 1892. But the Spanish authorities arrested him about two weeks later and deported him to Zamboanga del Norte. He failed to implement his supreme aspiration, but through his writings, he hoped that his countrymen would fulfill it.
That aspiration was a system that would build the self-esteem of the Filipino, uplift him from miserable conditions, give him decency, help him become worthy of freedom and civility, and prepare him to earn a living as a patriotic, enlightened, and productive citizen. It would assure him to triumph sweetly and rise until the height of honor.�
Rizal’s supreme aspiration was an educational system that would propel the Filipino people to attain their deserved liberties, material development, and greatness in the “lofty seat of endless glory.�”