The Americans introduced free public education to all Filipino children. It was a radical contrast to the more than three hundred years of Spanish colonial rule in the Philippines, when education was generally only for the children of the privileged class, of the wealthy, and of those who had the means among the Indios. The Spanish colonialists decreed that most children of the Indios, a slur given to the inhabitants of the Philippine Islands, must remain uneducated. If the Indios became educated, it was feared that they would seek equal treatment, justice, civility, freedom, and inalienable rights. The Spaniards feared that education for the children of the inhabitants would later be used to overthrow their despotic rule.