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American government gave importance to Education in the Philippines

Education became very important for the Filipinos. This was something that the Americans gave importance to, The spread of democracy and formation of good citizens including the rights and responsibilities of the people were the focus of American education in the country. Education allowed the Americans to spread or share their culture, particularly the English language, to the Filipinos.

The American government wanted to give everyone the chance to study so they built public schools for the Filipinos. Volunteer Filipino soldiers became the first teachers of the Filipinos. Part of their mission was to build classrooms in every place where they were assigned. The Filipino soldiers stopped teaching only when a group of teachers from the U.S. came to the Philippines in June 1901. They came aboard the ship "Sheridan." In August 1901, 600 teachers called "Thomasites" arrived. Their name came from the ship they traveled on, the S.S. Thomas. This group became successful in their mission.


Every child from age 7 was required to register in schools located in their own town or province. The students were given free school materials. There were three levels of education during the American period. The "elementary" level consisted of four primary years and 3 intermediate years. The "secondary" or high school level consisted of four years; and the third was the "college" or tertiary level.

Many elementary and secondary schools were opened in cities and provinces. Normal, vocational, agricultural, and business schools were also opened. There were also colleges during the American period. Some of these colleges are: Philippine Normal School in 1901 (now a university); National University (1901);,University of Manila (1914); Philippine Women University (1919); and Far Eastern University (1933). Examples of vocational schools are: the Philippine Nautical School, Philippine School of Arts and Trades and the Central Luzon Agriculture School. The University of the Philippines was also founded in 1908.


Religion was not included in the curriculum of the schools. The Americans also gave recognition to those students who excelled academically. They were sent to the U.S. to continue their studies and to become expert in their desired fields or professions. They were called "scholars" because the government covered all their expenses. In return, they were to teach or work in government offices after they finished their studies. There were successful Filipino scholars like Judge Jose Abad Santos, Francisco Benitez, Dr. Honoria Sison and Francisco Delgado.

The government was not only concerned with the welfare of the youth. Formal education was also provided to those who were of age. Schools were also built in non-Catholic areas like Sulu, Mindanao, and the Mountain Provinces. Attention was given to vocational and health practice. The knowledge of the Filipinos in reading and writing were very high during the American period.


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