Briones tells parents to offer choices to their children ‘early enough’

Published February 11, 2021, 5:11 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

For Education Secretary Leonor Briones, the biases and preferences of parents is perhaps one of the reasons why the playing field in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) remains uneven for men and women. 

Education Secretary Leonor Briones (DepEd / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

“I cannot believe that girls will be strong in one field and weak in another because that is not how nature has made both girls and boys so such choices have to be made early enough so that the children can think for themselves,” Briones said during an online event organized by the Department of Education (DepEd) on Thursday, Feb. 11 in line with the 2021 International Day of Women and Girls in Science. 

In her message, Briones shared a story of a girl who just finished Junior High School who was somehow forced to pursue a career based on her family’s preference. “All her life, she has always been primed to go into the arts primarily because the father is an artist and grandmother is very attached to arts, to literature, to music, to poetry and in so far, there had never been any question at all that she would go into the arts herself,” she said. 

But it was later on discovered that the girl has a leaning and “penchant” for Biology.  “However, it was already a bit late in the day, she had already planned her life and when her parents asked to make a choice, she made a choice for the Arts,” 

While the girl’s choice was not a “bad choice at all,” Briones believed that if she was given choices “right from the beginning and early enough, her choices would have been wider.” 

Same is the case for a boy who – right from the beginning was interested in Marine Biology – but was left with no choice but to him to take up law due to his father. While he gave in to his parents’ preference, he took up Marine Biology after. 

“Next thing, I knew this boy was already into marine biology and he went to a university which was very well known for its strength for its research and it’s accomplishments particularly in Marine Biology,” Briones said. 

Briones cited these examples of choices “which young people can make if such choices are present to them early enough and not when they’re already ready to go into the next step of going to a particular up studying in a particular field.”  

While the parents, despite their biases, want the best for their children Briones noted that they also have to reconsider since “times have changed, life has moved on, education has moved on and there are more opportunities for women and girls.” 

The International Day of Women and Girls in Science aims to commemorate the achievement of women in science and showcase the development of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education for female youth.