CMO 20: A neoliberal scheme in education
Academics and professionals were dismayed with the decision issued by the Supreme Court on June 11 which upholds the constitutionality of the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) order which seeks to remove Filipino, Panitikan (Filipino Literature) and Constitution from the college curriculum. The said provisions are contained in the CHEd Memorandum Order Number 20 (CMO 20) which was issued earlier in 2015 by the US-Aquino regime. CMO 20 is part of the series of neoliberal offensives in the education sector.
Prior to this, the K-12 program was implemented. The said program added two years of high school for technical-vocational education and encourages students to enter the workforce instead of proceeding to college. This reform in primary and secondary education aims to train the Filipino youth based on the need of local and foreign companies for cheap, docile, and low- to semi-skilled labor.
In particular, the college curriculum was deliberately narrowed down, made less multifaceted and centered on technical, scientific, professional and cultural-ideological training to serve the needs of the world capitalist system. Complying with this neoliberal framework, the state dismisses the relevance of studying Filipino, Panitikan and Constitution in college. In the past, these subjects serve as an avenue for patriotic academics to teach progressive and nationalist views.
According to Tanggol Wika, the Filipino language is a “significant cornerstone of national identity… which serves as a medium communication between ethnolinguistical groups and classes” especially in an archipelagic country. This paves the way for unity and people empowerment.
Meanwhile, professors from the University of the Philippines said that the Filipino language and Panitikan are vital in “deepening the critical, creative, free and liberative skills of students and the people.” They added that the subjects are not merely a repetition as these have a higher level of theory, practice and use, especially in helping shape Filipino consciousness.
CMO 20 is a manifestation of the reactionary state’s disinterest in developing a patriotic and national culture and Filipino identity. The development of a nationalistic culture has no place or value in the direction set by this order. It allows foreign interests and influence to dominate and condition the minds of Filipinos, especially the youth, into patronizing foreign products, including cultural products, and bury their objective aspiration for national sovereignty.
The Filipino people need to expose not only CMO 20 but also all other neoliberal educational reforms and fight for a genuinely patriotic, scientific and mass-oriented educational system.