Learning for Leadership (Part Two)

A Boholano’s View by Jose “Pepe” Abueva

The Bohol Chronicle

July 7, 2013

Interpreting the revised UP Charter of 2008, in my Centennial Lecture at U.P. Diliman on September 28, 2008 I offered a vision of UP as the National University as “Learning for Truth, Leadership, and Social Transformation.”* Last Sunday I wrote on “Learning for Truth” in U.P. as applicable to educational institutions in general. Today I focus on “Learning for Leadership.” 

For one, every faculty member in UP is expected to be a leader—or to be the best one can be in his or her chosen discipline or professional field. This means active and productive work in research and publication, or creative writing and the performing arts, as the case may be. It requires active involvement in one’s scientific or professional association nationally and internationally. Exemplary work in community extension, volunteerism, public education, continuing education, or public service is also expected of the UP faculty as leaders.

To contribute to the nation’s learning for leadership, UP must do what it has not done consciously as a whole as an institution. Individually and as a community of scholars, the faculty in every College should train and develop our students not only to achieve “personal success” or advancement for their own good, but also “social success” or to serve the common good, the interest and welfare of the nation and posterity, and the good of all humankind.

Our students and graduates must be true to this moral and ethical ideal as they work in business, government, civil society, or in an international organization.

Hindi lamang para sa sarili at pamilya, kundi para din sa kapwa at sa  kapakanan ng bayan at ng sangkatauhan. Ito ang tunay na  nasyonalismo, humanismo, at globalismo.

Dili lang alang sa kaugalingon ug sa pamilya, apan lakip ang isig ka tao ug ang tibuok katawhan sa kalibutan. Kini ang tinuod nga nasyonalismo, humanismo, ug globalismo.

Above all, UP should be the university of the people and for the people. Her faculty and researchers should provide knowledge and information to, and stimulate the awareness and enhance the leadership capacities of, cause-oriented organizations and other grassroots movements seeking social change.

UP faculty and students can help explain and demystify the workings of science and technology, and of government, corporations, universities and other social institutions, as part of the process of empowering the people. UP should devise learning strategies for the masses who form the vast majority in our society. Professors Francisco Nemenzo and Randy David are doing precisely this kind of service.

Understandably, our oligarchic society, political culture and media focus attention on the political and business elite or powerful persons and popular personalities in our social pyramid.

By force of circumstance and habit, in order to survive many citizens have learned to depend on the personal and political patronage of rich and powerful leaders. Likewise, our populist politicians and administrators in our electoral democracy, acting as patrons and “transactional leaders” in an exclusive democracy exploit our people’s urgent personal needs and dependency as clients—thus perpetuating the traditional patron-client relationship in our oligarchic society. 

Traditional “transactional leaders” who benefit from their superiority in the political and social hierarchy do not want to foster ideas and visions of the “Good Society” and “Good Governance,” nor do they want to develop modern political parties and institutions. They do not care to become “transforming leaders” who inspire and challenge our citizens to transcend their personal ends and help evolve and pursue a common vision of the Filipino “Good Society,” a strong nation, and an effective state that will uphold “the rule of law” and promote “social justice” in an inclusive democracy. (I borrow the concepts of “transactional” and “transforming leadership from James MacGregor Burns, Transforming Leadership, 1993.) 

Emphases of UP  education.  According to UP students in a survey of 14 colleges in UP Diliman that I initiated and Dr. Maria Luisa C. Doronila designed and carried out in 1991-1992, in collaboration with several social scientists, the qualities that their respective colleges wanted to develop in them were, in order of emphasis: first, leadership ability (32%), which includes independence, articulateness, assertiveness and self-confidence; second, the work ethic (27%), notably patience, discipline, diligence, resourcefulness and efficiency;  and third, intellectual capacities (24%), which include critical/analytical thinking, academic excellence and creativity.

Below all these, a far fourth is social orientation (11%), showing relatively weak compassion, a weak sense of service and a weak pro-people inclination; while ethical/moral uprightness, exemplified by honesty and integrity, was at the bottom of the list (2.9%). These perceptions of UP students of the kind of education they are getting are disturbing and sobering. (Maria Luisa C. Doronila, Ledivina V. Cariño, et al. The Meaning of UP Education. 1993. Also known as the KAVS  Study, for Knowledge, Attitudes, Values Study.  UP Education Research Program. UCIDS.)

You will probably agree that while it is true that leadership ability, intellectual skills, and the work ethic are important qualities that you should acquire in college, it is social orientation, morality and ethics that shall invest leadership and rationality with a vision beyond self and family and give it moral purpose and humanity.

Without the latter qualities, I am afraid that a UP graduate remains ethically poor and illiterate. It is not enough to be an excellent professional, a smart person; it is equally or even more important to be a good man or woman, to be a good citizen of our country and a good member of the human race, a worthy child of God.

Next week, we shall focus on “Learning for Social Transformation” or social change, reform of our socio-economic and political institutions, and development.

(*Jose V. Abueva. Reinventing U.P. as the National University: Learning for Truth, Leadership, and Social Transformation. A U.P. Centennial Publication of the Center for Leadership, Ciizenship, and Democracy, National College of Public Administration and Governance, U.P. Diliman. 2008. Pp. 1-26.)

Comments are welcome at pepevabueva@gmail.com  Also see my blog: https://joseabueva.wordpress.com

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