MANILA — The Department of Education said Monday it would strengthen teaching health literacy in the coming school year following an order from President Rodrigo Duterte, who saw the need to reinforce the subject during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones said health literacy is still integrated in the basic education curriculum even as it underwent a revision.
"Talagang built-in sa curriculum din 'yan. Binago natin, lalong na-strengthen ang curriculum natin ngayon sa health," Briones said in a virtual press briefing.
(That's really built-in in the curriculum. We changed it, we now have a strengthened curriculum when it comes to health.)
"Naka-embed iyan sa iba't ibang subjects ng mga bata," she said.
(That's already embedded in the different subjects of the children.)
Briones noted that health literacy has been taught in schools even before the pandemic since there are other illnesses that threaten the public, such as the flu and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
Education Undersecretary Diosdado San Antonio also clarified that all subjects will be retained this coming school year despite the revised curriculum.
"Wala tayong binawas na subject," San Antonio said.
(We did not remove any subject.)
But there are adjustments that need to be made in subjects that required students to demonstrate certain skills and tasks, such as Technology and Livelihood Education, said San Antonio, adding that the matter was still up for discussion in the agency.
In revising the curriculum, the DepEd reduced the number of learning competencies by 60 percent, retaining only those considered as "most essential."
In his budget message last week, President Rodrigo Duterte said he instructed Briones to capacitate educators with health literacy skills to "better respond to a pandemic or disaster, in particular the prevention of infection."
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers also earlier urged DepEd to include in the revised curriculum lessons that would empower students in responding to the coronavirus pandemic.
Teachers, learners get psycho-social support
Briones said the department was also providing psycho-social support activities to help its personnel and learners cope with the changes prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Hindi kakasya iyong guidance counselor to help us through this. It's not only the learners, it's everybody," she said.
Government has expressed concerns over the public's mental health during the pandemic, even seeking help from the Catholic Church to provide spiritual guidance to people suffering from depression.