MANILA (UPDATE) — The Department of Education (DepEd) said Wednesday that Philippine history is still being taught under the basic education curriculum, contrary to recent "misleading claims."
"Contrary to recurring misleading and reckless claims, the current DepEd administration, led by Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones, did not remove Philippine history from the curriculum," the DepEd said in a statement.
The department was reacting to a commentary written by a supposed lawyer, who said Briones "removed a huge chunk" of Philippine history from the school curriculum, Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan said in a separate statement.
The DepEd said the current Araling Panlipunan (AP) curriculum "covers various Philippine history topics across grade levels."
Philippine history topics also serve as a "take-off point" in discussions related to world history, Asian studies, and Philippine politics and governance, among other subjects taught in high school, according to the DepEd.
"Generally, it is highly impossible to discuss the said subjects without even taking into consideration the Philippine historical context," it said.
"In addition, Philippine history competencies found in the curriculum are covered by textbooks and other learning resources distributed to learners."
The DepEd said it would not allow students "to be robbed of the opportunity to discover our rich heritage."
"The stories of inspiring Filipino people and monumental Philippine events will continue to be ingrained in our books and during our classroom and blended learning discussions for years to come," it added.
In a message to ABS-CBN News, the DepEd's Bureau of Curriculum Development said it did not stop teaching Philippine history as a separate subject.
The bureau explained that Philippine history has been taught separately to Grade 5 and 6 students since 2014, following the implementation of the K-12 program.
Prior to the K-12 program, the subject was taught to Grade 6 and 7 students, it said.
In a statement, Teachers' Dignity Coalition Chairman Benjo Basas called on the DepEd to bring back Philippine history as a separate subject in high school, which starts at Grade 7.
"Kaysa maging defensive, mas maganda po na agad nang itama ni [Secretary] Briones ang pagkakamali ni [dating secretary Armin] Luistro," Basas said, referring to the previous education secretary whose tenure saw the start of the K-12 program's implementation.
(Instead of being defensive, it's better for Secretary Briones to correct the error of former Secretary Luistro.)
"Kung seryoso ang DepEd na magturo ng patriotism, ito na ang tamang pagkakataon. Mahalaga po ito para na naman hindi na umasa sa TikTok, YouTube at fake news ang mga kabataan for Philippine history lessons," he added.
(If the DepEd is serious in instilling patriotism among students, now is the right time. This is important so students will no longer rely on TikTok, YouTube and fake news for Philippine history lessons.)