Estrada revives call for classes on constitution in high school curriculum

(PHILSTAR) MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Jinggoy Estrada on Sunday called for the inclusion of education on the constitution in the curriculum for junior and senior high school students, a proposal in a bill he filed in November and that has been referred to the basic education committee.

Senate Bill No. 1443 seeks the development of a Constitutional Educatioon course for students in secondary school to teach them about democratic values and people’s participation in government “and equip them with the knowledge of the Constitution that they can use in their analysis and involvement in public issues.”

In a statement on Sunday on constitutional education, Estrada said that “a nationalist mindset must be instilled in Filipino learners who will contribute to a strong Philippine economy, grounded in their commitment to the nation.”

If passed into law, the bill will direct the Department of Education to work with government agencies and with experts on the constitution from the academe to develop a Constitutional Education Course that will be taught in public and private high schools in the Philippines.

The Araling Panlipunan (social studies) curriculum in basic education, from kindergarten to Grade 10, includes lessons on the 1987 Constitution as well as on the rights and responsibilities of citizens as well as on government authority and on democracy.

“Understanding the concepts of authority and leadership and the different levels and aspects of government, including the heavy responsibility of being a leader are discussed in the AP curriculum,” the DepEd guide on Araling Panlipunan reads in Filipino.

“The experiences of other countries in Asia and different parts of the world are sources of many examples and lessons for this theme,” it also says.

The Senior High School curriculum does not have a subject specifically on the 1987 Constitution.

“The development of technical-based skills in learners with the prioritization on the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) must be strengthened alongside the fundamentals of nationalism and patriotism which will be engrained in the inclusion of constitution in the curriculum for secondary levels,” Estrada said Sunday.

There have been repeated attempts to revise or replace the 1987 Constitution, including discussion during the Duterte administration for a shift to a federal form of government. The shift to federalism, a campaign promise and talking point of former President Rodrigo Duterte, was set aside by 2017.

Sen. Robinhood Padilla filed a resolution in July seeking a study on potential changes to the constitution and a possible shift to federalism. “It is unfortunate that after 35 years from [the Constitution’s] effectivity, we have yet to attain a ‘just and humane society,'” Padilla wrote in the resolution.