How our educational system damages marriage and the family

There is such a thing as staying too long in school. And it’s not because of intelligence (although a recent World Population Review data indicates that the national IQ average is somewhat “below average,” at 81.64, ranking 111 out of 199 countries). Blame instead should be directed at the educational system and the attitude regarding education.

Ever been to a local Catholic Mass where, whenever there’s something important (i.e., pandemic, a typhoon), the faithful are made to pray an “oratio imperata”? For some reason the brilliant idea seems to be is that the more excruciatingly long the prayer is then the more God will give in to our pleas, simply surrendering out of sheer exhaustion under all that verbiage. That’s exactly how educators here think: Is something wrong with our youth’s learning? Solution: increase subjects, increase units, increase classroom hours, and increase year levels. In short, double down on whatever the heck is not working.

That, along with the unwise incentivizing for everyone to go to college (e.g., free tuition, lowered admission standards), has resulted in youths with today’s K-12 curriculum graduating from school at age 22-23 years old.

Not only is this massive loading of information, without respite or time to contemplate, incredibly counterproductive to learning and learning how to think, it also forces many of our youths to occupations they are either utterly unfit or unprepared for. There is also this specific problem, particularly for women, that seek to enter the professions of law and (specially more so) medicine.

For women, by the time they take their lawyer’s oaths, they would be at least 27-28 years old. For those taking medicine, with residency and then the Board exams, you’re talking of women being 28-29 years old by the time they get their medical license.

Unfortunately, this does not allow a comfortable amount of time for women lawyers and doctors (and other related professions) to marry, have children, and raise a family. Despite all the so-called science, despite alleged (as well as quite profitable for the medical industry) options of egg freezing, the fact still remains that women’s fertility declines after age 30 and the decline accelerates after mid-30s.

Thus, for the first time in history, we now have an inordinate number of women lamenting the fact that they are now unable to bear children and raise a family. The 2020 American Bar Association report found 50% of women lawyers unable to get married.

Apparently, in the Philippines, anecdotal evidence indicates that many women have chosen to address this situation by simply getting themselves impregnated, out of wedlock, by any willing guy they come across. This is, of course, incredibly selfish and unfair to the child. Recent Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data show that 57% of Philippine newborns are without a father to raise them. Which leads us to this famous statement: “We know the statistics — that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and 20 times more likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to have behavioral problems, or run away from home or become teenage parents themselves. And the foundations of our community are weaker because of it.”

An alternative is that women, finding later in life that they want to be married and raise kids, simply opt out of their professional career (by as much as 30%, as one study showed). But doing so by their mid-30s, as such women found out, is a tad too late.

Make no mistake: having more women professionals is to be lauded. Yet, still, for women (and men), marrying, having kids, raising a family with their spouse, nonetheless remains the most enriching and rewarding experience that benefits not only children and society but definitely even the spouses themselves.

Incidentally, it is not true that most or many marriages end up in divorce, annulment, or separation. One oft-repeated figure, for the United States, that 50% of marriages end up broken is a myth. Recent studies revealed that 85% of first marriages remain intact (in the Philippines, it is apparently 80%). And the survivability of marriages increases particularly if the couple share values and are religious.

And there is simply no reason why a career or having a family are mutually exclusive options: US Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett is just one of many examples of a career woman having a fulfilling family life. The Philippines itself ranks among the world’s best for a woman to live in. In 2022 it ranked fourth in the world with most women managers (including in the media), had two women presidents, a former Chief Justice (with associate justices), and numerous members of Congress. The 2023 World, Business, and the Law report saw the Philippines having perfect scores for women in relation to “workplace,” “pay,” and “entrepreneurship.” The key is proper personal ordering and prioritization. But a non-dysfunctional educational system would also certainly help.

We need to re-examine our educational system. Quality, rather than increased hours and years, is something to be emphasized. Homeschooling and, ironically, the online classes during the COVID-19 lockdown, have shown how quality education can be had with much fewer course units and hours.

Finally, we must rid ourselves of the ridiculous idea that everyone deserves a college education, much less a postgraduate degree. If we can focus in admitting only those students that would truly benefit from a college education, then resources and time can be focused on them rather than humongously bloating the education system to try pulling up students that shouldn’t be in college in the first place.

This is not being elitist but simply commonsense. Not everyone has the same talents and those that aren’t fit for college can have every opportunity for richly rewarding lives if they can be directed towards occupations or vocations that better match their specific abilities and preferences.

However, to go back to the original point, education is supposed to assist people towards the “good life,” a life of meaning. It was never meant to be commercialized, a tool that can miraculously equalize everyone’s wages. The point of a true education is to show that beyond academic credentials, income, professional prestige, they all still fail in comparison to appreciating truth and meaning, of attaining “human flourishing,” which inherently includes having a spouse to share one’s life with and children to raise.

Radical feminism, wokeism, a materialist mindset, and a misguided educational system have unfortunately robbed many women of that. That needs to be changed.


Jemy Gatdula is a senior fellow of the Philippine Council for Foreign Relations and a Philippine Judicial Academy law lecturer for constitutional philosophy and jurisprudence

Twitter  @jemygatdula