Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis-Briones stressed the importance of teaching the Philippine Constitution early to instill nationalism and discipline among Filipino schoolchildren.
“The children (must have) more exposure to the provisions of the Constitution, so that they will be conscious of their obligations, of what they should do, of what they should not do,” said Briones during the Philippine Constitution Association’s (Philconsa) observance of Constitution Day last Tuesday.
Briones said the Department of Education (DepEd) already embedded Constitution lessons in the K to 12 curriculum as early as Grade 6.
She added that by Grade 10, learners have an allotted eight weeks to discuss topics on good governance, active citizenship, and participative governance, with the importance of the Constitution highlighted.
Grade 12 that chose Humanities strand, meanwhile, has a specific subject that focuses on the politics and governance in the Philippines.
“Nandoon sa Constitution itself that all educational institutions should include the study of the Constitution as part of the curriculum,” Briones explained.
With this approach, Briones hopes that people will be more aware and appreciative to one of the symbols of Philippine democracy.
“Perhaps the time will come, we will celebrate the Constitution day as it is in other countries, the same level of joy, the same level of gratitude for our very Constitution which we, the Filipino people, have created,” Briones said.
Philippines’ Constitution Day is observed during February 2 of every year by virtue of Proclamation No. 211, series of 1988 to “instill in the hearts and minds of the Filipino people the democratic principles and the noble and lofty ideals enshrined in the Constitution.”
Briones also highlighted DepEd’s efforts in upholding and implementing two important provisions on education in the 1987 Constitution -- protecting and promoting the right of all citizens to quality and accessible education (Article XIV, Section 1); and establishing a non-formal system of education (Article XIV, Section II(4)).
“Our continuous efforts to uphold our Constitutional mandate on making education accessible resulted in some degrees of success,” Briones said.
Around 47,025 public schools nationwide are now providing free basic education to Filipino schoolchildren while the Last Mile Schools program is addressing the gaps in resources and facilities of schools that are in geographically isolated and disadvantaged and conflict-affected areas.
Briones also mentioned the current initiative of the department to raise the quality of education through “Sulong EduKalidad” that focuses on four aggressive reforms -- K to 12 curriculum review; improving the learning environment; teachers’ upskilling and reskilling; and engagement of stakeholders for support and collaboration.
Under the non-formal system of education, a yearly average of 130,019 students have obtained elementary and secondary diplomas through the Alternative Learning System (ALS). Passing rates also improved from an average of 45% between 2005 to 2015, to 66% in 2016 to 2018.
“The challenge for all of us is to shift our focus to implementing the Constitution and ensuring that the provisions stipulated in it are being upheld,” Briones said.