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Opinion

GMRC and its partners

ROSES AND THORNS - Pia Roces Morato - The Philippine Star

It’s been quite a while since our fellow countrymen have been active in calling out for the reinstatement of good manners and right conduct in the school curriculum, so much so that this “call” was rather loud in its entirety that none other than former president Rodrigo Duterte signed a law in 2020 institutionalizing GMRC and values education as core subjects in the K-12 curriculum, both in public and private schools.

Back then, Pasig Rep. Roman Romulo, chairman of the House committee on basic education and culture, authored and sponsored the measure in the House, where he said that such measure would promote the basic tenets of good manners and right conduct such as caring for oneself, giving concern for others, according proper respect to people, upholding discipline and order and cultivating sincerity, honesty, obedience and, above all, love for country.

Former Manila mayor Isko Moreno in the same year also met with officials of the Department of Education and Division of City Schools Manila to discuss the restoration of GMRC in the curriculum while noting the traditional Filipino values of respect such as saying “po” or “opo,”simultaneously calling out to parents to help them in their children’s educational development.

Fast forward to today, the very same department tasked with the restoration of this program has in fact become an integral component of what we now know as the MATATAG curriculum. According to an article published by the Philippine Information Agency on Nov. 7, 2023, the Vice President of the Philippines and Education Secretary Sara Duterte launched the MATATAG curriculum last August 2023 as a revised curriculum for kindergarten to Grade 10 which is to take effect in SY 2024-2025 and is primarily focused on addressing the challenges of the K-12 program such as the congested content, misplaced prerequisite learning competencies and cognitive demand imbalance.

The MATATAG curriculum stands for “Make the curriculum relevant to produce job-ready, Active and responsible citizens; TAke steps to accelerate the delivery of basic education services and provision facilities; TAke good care of learners by promoting learner well-being, inclusiveness learning and positive learning environment and Give support for teachers to teach better.”

Although the acronym MATATAG is much easier to digest as it is short, its complete definition is particularly useful and likewise relevant to both educators and parents that form part of the wholistic development of learners. Such development, I should say, begins most especially in early childhood education which explains why, and in the case of GMRC, it is critical to introduce as well as integrate the concept in the early years of development.

Early childhood education is focused on the essential development milestones, concepts and skills that children attain during their formative years and is the foundation for lifelong learning, not to mention the essential building blocks to a child’s future success, which is why it makes perfect sense for the MATATAG curriculum to elaborate on relevant concepts in order to prepare them for their future.

It must therefore be noted that such a task is also shared by the early childhood care and development system under the ECCD Council (Early Childhood Care and Development Council), which has under its wing, the task to nurture and develop the welfare of children between ages 0-4 as a cooperative and collaborative partner in promoting their full potential.

In order therefore to influence the proper conduct of children whose education is being developed in a manner by which we are able to understand the integral role of teachers and parents on every level of learning by our students, one must begin by first thinking about how concepts such as good manners is but a matter of both principle and support that stems from the most basic unit of society – the family.

When trying to understand what it means to take action on the many fluid aspects attributed to the Department of Education, one must first consider the many other factors that have contributed to the continuing challenges we face today in terms of education – one of which is underinvestment where, in my opinion, we have yet to take broader steps towards achieving our goals in terms of improving the success of our school system, which has been a  long-lasting issue for decades.

There are many factors which need addressing but, unfortunately for some new critics who have never been fully immersed in the area of education, it is easier to criticize a lead agency responsible for programs without having any prior knowledge of what it has been able to offer in order to address the necessary learning needs to ensure quality education.

On that note, GMRC is not only a component of a school curriculum but rather, is an essential element that includes not only the Department of Education but also its partners responsible for ensuring the success of basic education in the Philippines.

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RODRIGO DUTERTE

ROMAN ROMULO

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