Struggles on Education Policies in Southeast Asia: Movements in Vietnam, Malay Peninsula, and Philippines


  • Janet C. Atutubo University of Santo Tomas


Ethnosymbolism, Colonization, Self-determination


This study presents the story of ordinary people narrating and sharing their experience of colonization. The concept of ethnosymbolism states the reason why a group of people live together for a length of time, which may result to the establishment of a strong social identity and unity, why they stood and fought for their identified homeland. The study shall employ a historical comparative approach to point out the similarities, parallels, and trends on historical and social developments in Vietnam, the Malay Peninsula, and the Philippines during the Western colonial period.
Starting from mythologies, the group of people claimed of great origins stories and further developed their culture through a continuous exchange of influences with their neighbors like the Chinese with the Vietnamese, the Arab or Islamic with the Malays, and the combination of these two with the Filipinos. Everyone in the village was educated. The Vietnamese education was based on the Chinese mandarin system, the Malays based theirs on the Arab/Islamic system and the Filipinos developed their own system of education. All of this changed with the influx of colonization that imposed a European style of education. Indigenous education was deeply influenced by western concepts resulting to the decline of its traditional form. The ordinary people, mostly peasants, were the major participants in the historical developments of their countries, but their stories are not mentioned at all. The leaders cooperated, others sided with the colonizers, some showed their rejection by continuous and various forms of uprisings throughout the colonization until these groups of people acquired independence from their colonizers. A class of educated indigenous people was formed and it was this group who stated the experiences of colonization in an acceptable manner. Ethnosymbolism justifies the innate desire of a group of people to the management of their homeland, the use of their resources, and its benefits for its native population. Colonization instigated the people to pursue self-determination and the management of themselves according to their cultures and traditions. This was the instinctive motivation of the native population to engage in various activities in relation to the colonizers. Therefore, there is the need that the historical narratives of a people are told from them, whatever their action is, these are perceived as something for the good of the Vietnamese, Malays, and Filipinos. The narratives of this study are from a Southeast Asian perspective.

Author Biography

Janet C. Atutubo, University of Santo Tomas

Janet C. Atutubo is currently a faculty member of the University of Santo Tomas, Faculty of Arts and Letters. Her baccalaureate degree was obtained from the same institution with a major in AB Asian Studies. Master’s Degree was acquired from De La Salle University, major in History. She defended her dissertation at the Centro Escolar University towards a degree in Ph.D major in Southeast Asian Studies. She is a lifetime member to the Philippine Historical Association and Philippine National Historical Society. She is also an active member of the World Council for Curriculum and Instruction.




How to Cite

Atutubo, J. . “Struggles on Education Policies in Southeast Asia: Movements in Vietnam, Malay Peninsula, and Philippines”. TALA: An Online Journal of History, vol. 2, no. 1, June 2019,