DepEd streamlining of Grade 10 Social Studies ignores democracy, governance lessons–EFD

July 5, 2017

by IBON Foundation

Transformative education advocates belonging to the Educators Forum for Development (EFD) expressed concern about the Department of Education’s (DepEd) latest Contemporary Issues curriculum revision. The measure effectively removes topics pertinent to students’ grasp of and attitude towards issues that have been afflicting Philippine society until now, the group said.

The DepEd released an April 21, 2017 revised curriculum draft in Araling Panlipunan Grade 10, in which the lessons were rearranged from the previous May 2016 curriculum guide. Deleted were the following topics: political dynasties, graft and corruption and territorial conflicts (i.e. South China Sea/West Philippine Sea issue).

The teachers’ network said that the Contemporary Issues subject is expected to build on basic education principles in which Filipino students are molded into socially-aware and responsible young citizens and members of their families and communities.

But the latest revision, said EFD, ignores how Philippine economics and politics are affected today by non-democratic and unjust practices that only a democratically active citizenry can address. The group remembered how the Marcos dictatorship in which political dynasties and graft and corruption thrived was toppled by a conscientized people’s concerted action.

The deleted topics could otherwise be building blocks in the consciousness of the young for them to not allow a repeat of Filipinos’ collective suffering under the Marcos regime. Discussing the prevailing dominance of a few clans in running the affairs of the country down to the barangays, for instance, especially with a localized K-to-12, is crucial in inculcating the value of good governance and genuine people’s representation. So is familiarity with patronage politics and government officials’ practice of stealing from the nation’s coffers or keeping the pork barrel, which has suffered public services especially education, health and housing, and narrowed resources that the people should directly benefit from.

Meanwhile, Philippine experience with regard to territorial dispute specifically concerning China has brought the nation to contemplate on matters of resource grabbing, international protocols, geopolitics and ultimately self-determination.

The EFD stressed that it is within the role of education to raise the youth’s awareness of issues like these rather than make them oblivious to such as could be a result of the curriculum revision. Education should be able to create a nation’s active champions of democracy and sovereignty, not of ignorance, passivity and submission. Only the few perpetrators and beneficiaries of political dynasties, graft and corruption and territorial conflicts stand to benefit from the curriculum change, said the group.

The EFD has long criticized the K-to-12 curriculum as aggressively shaping Philippine education to fit the demands of globalization. The group said that by not exposing social realities and exploring related alternatives, the Philippine educational system distances teachers and learners from helping in social transformation and becoming harbingers of genuine economic development and good governance.

The network urged fellow educators to remain vigilant in addressing the impact of curriculum changes, and step up efforts to highlight nationalist and pro-people content in teaching Social Studies and other subjects.