By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
Amid developments on the proposed shift to a federal form of government, the Department of Education (DepEd) is pushing for the retention of the current education arrangement to retain a “sense of oneness and nationhood.”
“We are for retaining the present arrangement,” Education Secretary Leonor Briones said when asked about DepEd’s stand on the proposed shift and how it may affect the country’s education system as a whole. She also noted that while the proposed shift to federalism is being debated upon, DepEd has been asked about its position on the proposal.
“Right now, it’s BBL [Bangamoro Basic Law] and then federalism,” Briones said. “The present arrangement is that with ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao), we have a common curriculum for the entire country – including those for Muslim children, IP [Indigenous People] children, and everyone from the various regions,” she explained. The reason for this, she noted, is “primarily because we are a one nation.”
Briones also cited the practicality of having one curriculum for the entire country should the shift to federalism will push through. “For instance, the child from the North or perhaps the South goes to Manila enroll to another school, the child would not have to go through so much like undergoing a bridging program because the curriculum remains the same,” she said.
Universities and colleges, Briones noted, have their own standards. “They will look for particular subjects and if the curriculum is common, this [bridging program] will be minimized” she added.
Briones noted that DepEd is pushing to retain the current education system because “it will also inspire a sense of oneness and nationhood.” She noted that if the BBL is passed, then it “can add aspects of their culture and then they can add subjects they wish to add in the education curriculum.”
Meanwhile, Briones said the “main curriculum will have to be same for the entire country to retain a sense of national identity and also for practicality purposes for those who want to pursue higher education in other places or schools.”
While there might be opposing views on changing the form of the government, Briones noted that the stand of DepEd remains the same: to retain the present arrangement. “We have our own positions as citizens and even us, we have our personal views about federalism,” she said. “Just the same, our position is a common curriculum for the national level,” she added.
Should the shift to federalism will push through, Briones noted that the states, regions, or the BBL “can add or they can take out courses” in the education system. “But the curriculum has to be common because we are not exactly the largest country in the world and we are very anxious to retain the sense of nationhood and identity,” she said. “If federalism will be introduced and the citizens of the federal states will agree, they will have to contribute some more so there will be state schools like in other countries,” she added.
If federalism will be introduced, Briones maintained that the position of DepEd will remain the same. “Even in the form of government, you still have national government and if you have the national government, then you still have the DepEd,” Briones added. “We proposed that it [education arrangement] should not be changed at all whatever changes that might happen at the lower levels of the government…that is our position bur we don’t know how it will turn out,” she ended.