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Human Rights Education in Asian Schools Volume VII

Integrating Human Rights Concepts into the School Curriculum: The Philippine Experience


In 2002 the Philippine Department of Education (DepEd) adopted a new curriculum for public schools--the Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) for Elementary and Secondary Schools. In 2003 DepEd revised its human rights teaching exemplars to fit the new curriculum.

General Features of the Basic Education Curriculum

BEC is the product of 16 years of study conducted under the various DepEd secretaries.
   Starting in 1995 intensive consultations were held with schools, parents, students, business, trade and industry, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and the people in DepEd who administer the education system at the ground level.
   The consultations, continued in 2001, included experts, public and private school teachers, 16 regional directors, 145 superintendents, 20,000 principals, and representatives of subject areas in different grade and year levels.
   The Philippine Commission on Educational Reforms (PCER), created on 7 December 1998, recommended implementation of the restructured BEC starting in 2002.
   BEC focuses on the basics of reading, writing, arithmetic, science, and patriotism. Values are integral to all subject areas. Students can then be ready for lifelong learning. BEC seeks to remedy the inability of students to read with comprehension at grade 3 and, worse, grade 6.
   Integrative and interactive teaching-learning is stressed through group learning and sharing of knowledge and experiences between teachers, between teachers and students, and among students. For instance, under the old curriculum, English teachers prepared lesson plans for English, and values teachers prepared lesson plans for values education. Under BEC, the teachers work together.

Elementary level

   For grades 1 and 2, focus is on English, Filipino, mathematics, and Makabayan (Nationalistic). Science and health are integrated into English. Science is also discussed in Filipino and Makabayan. To say that science will receive no attention at this stage is baseless.
   For grades 3 to 4, focus is on English, Filipino, science and health, mathematics, and Makabayan. Time allotted to science is increased in grades 5 to 6.
   Components of Makabayan at the elementary level are the following:
  • Grades 1 to 3. Social studies, consisting of civics and culture. Music, arts, and physical education are integrated into civics and culture.
  • Grades 4 to 6
    • Social studies, consisting of geography, history, and civics
    • Home economics and livelihood
    • Music, arts, and physical education
   Good manners and right conduct are integrated into all learning areas.

High school

   The learning areas are English, Filipino, science, math, and Makabayan.
   One of the major changes is in mathematics, which shifted from the spiral system, introducing all mathematics subjects at every level, to the linear, sequential approach, where only elementary algebra is taught in first year, intermediate algebra in second year, and geometry in third year.
   Algebra gives the basic discipline for creative computer programming. Without this framework, information technology teaching may only produce mere encoders--the "hewers of wood and drawers of water" in the knowledge society.
   The components of Makabayan are the following:
  • Social studies
    • Philippine history and government (first year)
    • Asian studies (second year)
    • World history (third year)
    • Economics (fourth year)
  • Technology and home economics and livelihood
  • Music, arts, and physical and health education
  • Values education
   Tandem or team teaching is encouraged whenever possible, to reinforce learning.
   Information technology is used and computer literacy emphasized in schools where equipment is available.
   BEC seeks to develop competencies in the macro skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing, using varied materials and strategies. It is also aimed at developing critical thinking and empowering students for lifelong learning.
   The BEC approach is integrative.
   For instance, when the class takes up Francisco Balagtas's Tagalog 18th-century epic poem, Florante at Laura (Florante and Laura), or Jose Rizal's 19th-century Spanish novels, Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not) and El Filibusterismo (The Subversive), the literature teacher can teach them as literature, and the history teacher as history or as inputs in discussions on the roots of nationalism, or even tackle Rizal's motivations for writing his novels.
   Following the interactive learning approach, the curriculum has been restructured to encourage and promote reciprocal interaction
  • between teachers and students,
  • between and among the students (collaborative learning),
  • between students and self-instructional materials, and
  • between students and multimedia-assisted instruction.
   Makabayan will be a "laboratory of life" or a practice environment for holistic learning to develop a healthy personal and national selfidentity. This requires an adequate understanding of Philippine history and the politico-economic system, local cultures, crafts, literature, arts, music, and games.
   Makabayan uses integrated units of learning to enable the learner to process, assimilate, and systematically practice a wide range of values and life skills, including work skills and a work ethic.
   The five learning areas address the individual and social needs of the learners. Makabayan, however, lays the most stress on development of social awareness and responsibility, empathy, and a firm commitment to the common good.
   Schools are allowed to design and adapt Makabayan. Its overall objective, however, is to develop self-reliant and patriotic citizens, conscious not only of their rights but also of their duties and responsibilities to the community and to the nation.

Description of the Main Subjects in the Curriculum

The major subjects under BEC are the following:
   Filipino. This develops listening, speaking, reading writing, and thinking in the Philippine national language. In grades 1-6, these skills will be mastered using varied materials. Children are introduced to rhymes, poems, songs, and stories suited to their level. Some content from social studies is used to develop language skills. In the first to fourth years of the secondary level, this subject becomes Filipino sa Iskolarling Pakikipagtalastasan (Filipino in scholarly exchange or discourse). It integrates interdisciplinary vocabulary and topics in the development of academic language proficiency through journalistic, literary, politico-economic, referential, and procedural texts in Filipino.

   English. This develops the learner's confidence and ability in using language effectively and thinking critically. This subject develops listening, speaking, reading, writing, and thinking in English. Listening skills include auditory discrimination and comprehension. Speaking skills cover pronunciation and use of expressions and grammatical structures. Reading skills include vocabulary development, word recognition, comprehension, and study skills. Writing skills cover handwriting (grades 1-6) and composition.

   Science. This aims to help the learner gain a functional understanding of scientific concepts and principles linked with real-life situations, and acquire scientific skills, attitudes, and values to analyze and solve day-to-day problems.

   Mathematics. In contrast to the previous curriculum, time for mathematics is increased to ensure that lessons are finished and activities increased for practical investigation and problem solving. Students learn more in hands-on activities than through books, and when they explore, discover, generalize, and apply learning to their lives.

   Makabayan. This serves as a practice environment for holistic learning to develop a healthy personal and national self-identity. Makabayan adopts modes of integrative teaching that enable the learner to process and synthesize a wide range of skills and values (cultural, aesthetic, athletic, vocational, politico-economic, and ethical). Schools are allowed to design and contextualize the implementation of Makabayan. Competencies and topics can be substantially integrated, but inevitably neither will be perfect or total, especially from grade 4 to fourth year.
   In the light of the diverse disciplines within Makabayan, each discipline is initially allotted time weekly from grade 4 to fourth year to ensure that all core competencies will be covered and mastered, especially those that, in the initial years of implementation, cannot be taken up in integrated units.
   The disciplines within Makabayan are represented by SIKAP: sibika (civics), sining (arts), information (and communication technology), kultura (culture), araling panglipunan (social studies), pangkalusugan (health), pangtahanan (home) at pangkabuhayan (economics). As a concept and value, Makabayan serves as a thematic thread for these disciplines.
   The following are primary-level subjects:
  • Civics and culture. This is a component of Makabayan for grades 1-3. Children engage in character-building activities, develop good behavior, and are taught values such as love of country, good citizenship, respect for one's cultural heritage, and being pro-Filipino. The children are also introduced to basic health knowledge, healthy practices, and simple scientific skills such as observing, and describing interaction with, their environment. Civics and culture also nurture creative expression through music, arts, physical exercise, and games.
  • Geography, history, and civics. This is a component of Makabayan for grades 4- 6. In grade 4, it focuses on the geographical features of the Philippines as part of Southeast Asia and the world, use of natural resources, and the relationship of physical geography to local culture. In grade 5, the subject focuses on the prehistoric Philippines to the present. Learners examine how people, practices, ideas, and events helped shape the present and how people manage to attain their desired future. In grade 6, the subject focuses on the democratic system, and the rights, duties, and responsibilities of citizens.
  • Music, arts, physical education, health. This component enables children to express their feelings, imagination, and ideas through music, art, and physical education. The children learn basic body movements, games, musical skills, and art concepts. As the children proceed to higher grades, physical fitness, competencies in lead-up games, musicality, and creativity in design and craft construction are further developed.
   The following are secondary-level subjects:
  • Social studies. This subject covers Philippine history and government (first year), Asian studies (second year), world history (third year), and economics (fourth year).
  • Music and arts. These aim to develop learners' personal, social, and aesthetic skills and values. The subject covers the study of elements and styles of music learned through listening, singing, playing, reading, and creating. Philippine and foreign music and visual art materials are used to deepen understanding of musical and artistic ideas and values. The visual arts involve drawing, painting, and making two- and three-dimensional art.
  • Physical education. This aims to physically and athletically develop learners through physical exercise, games, sports, and dance.
  • Health. This develops the learners' ability to attain and maintain holistic health (physical, mental, and interpersonal), and includes education on population, drugs, and safety.
  • Technology and home economics and livelihood. This component includes home economics, agriculture and fisheries, industrial arts, and entrepreneurship.
  • Values education. This subject aims to form self-identity and develop the knowledge and skills necessary to discern, analyze, discuss, compare, and select values in real-life situations. The subject is taught through experiential learning and integrative teaching. The teacher guides students to discover, analyze, select, and adopt values and discuss them in an atmosphere of dialogue, freedom, and openness.
Summary of the curriculum based on distribution of subject per year
CurriculumPrimary levelSecondary levelTotal
ScienceWithin English   40
and Makabayan
SK, HKS, AP606060404040240 minutes per week or
60 minutes for 4 days

404040240 minutes per week or
60 minutes for 4 days
MSEP/PEHMWithin civics and culture204040240 minutes per week or
60 minutes for 4 days
EP, GMRC, VEWithin every learning area

Within every learning area plus
60 minutes per week

(co-curricular activities)

Note: AP = social studies; TEPP = technology, home economics and livelihood; EPP = home economics and livelihood; THE = technology and home economics; MSEP = music, arts, physical education, and health; PEHM = physical education, health, and music; EP /VE = values education; GMRC = good manners and right conduct; PEEP = parents and educators empowerment program; SK = civics and culture for grades 1-3; HKS = geography, history and civics for grades 4-6.

Integration of human rights education in the school curriculum

   Human rights concepts have been naturally integrated into BEC's five learning areas without disrupting their scope and sequence and without creating additional or separate subject for human rights education. There is also a yearround assurance that in any subject, at anytime, human rights concept(s) can be integrated through a suitable "point of entry."
   The planners, however, should see that integration is effective considering and employing various strategies. Several steps were undertaken in consultation with all sectors such as Commission on Human Rights, Department of Justice, Philippine National Police Commission, Department of Social Services and Development, local government units, NGOs, academe, and civic organizations, among others.
   The steps involved are the following:
  • Analysis of competencies for all learning areas, year levels, and quarters. The set of competencies guides the formulation of dayto- day objectives in the classroom. These objectives are expected to be achieved for the whole school year (200 days). This process determines the points of entry or "the where and the when" that naturally integrate the identified human rights concepts.
  • Identification of suitable human rights concepts from a research-based list by the Philippine Commission on Human Rights (PCHR) of the most common human rights violations.
  • Preparation of lesson exemplars as part of a module. PCHR provided the issues, information, and statistics on human rights while selected master teachers shared their expertise in developing lesson exemplars or teachers' guides. Teaching strategies, techniques, and approaches were considered. These exemplars were distributed even in the remotest areas of the country and serve as a ready reference when human rights concepts are to be integrated into school subjects.
  • Orientation and training in the use of the module. School division superintendents, supervisors, and principals were oriented in, while teachers were trained to use, the modules and exemplars. Regional and division trainers were especially trained to train classroom teachers in the field for a multiplier effect.
  • Updating and review of modules. The central office continues to review the modules to keep abreast of the latest information, issues, and concerns on human rights. Statistics, inputs from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and its counterpart in the country should be shared with all teachers.
  • In the development of the module, the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a top consideration along with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and human rights principles on the protection and welfare of the disabled and of indigenous peoples.
  • Development of instructional materials and devices on human rights. Posters, flyers, handouts, reading materials, case studies, pamphlets, and fact sheets were developed for distribution in secondary schools in places not reached by television and radio. These materials thus serve to update the teachers.
  • Monitoring and evaluation of the program. To sustain the teachers' spirit, the central office, in coordination with the regions and division offices, monitors and evaluates the program through regular reports on issues, concerns, and problems encountered. Solutions offered and best practices experienced are always in the last part of the reports.
Integrating human rights education into the primary-school curriculum

   Although it is not treated as a learning area, human rights education finds space in the elementary-school curriculum. The pilot implementation of BEC marks recognition of human rights concepts. These are evident in Makabayan, giving the learner the opportunity to apply practical knowledge and life skills and appreciate Filipino culture and heritage. Makabayan also makes values development integral to all learning areas and includes civics and culture for grades 1-3; geography, history, and civics for grades 4-6; music, arts, physical education, home economics, and livelihood education for grades 4-6; and values education, which permeates all learning areas.
   Various core values have been indicated to focus on values formation in different learning areas. Out of 36 core values, 16 pertain to human rights, are mostly in civics and culture for grades 1-3, and geography, history, and civics for grades 4-6. Below is the matrix of different core values in human rights education and the concepts to be taught in each grade level in different learning areas.

All learning areas
Core valuesHuman rights concepts
Self-disciplineGrade 5-Self-control
Grade 6-Giving in/Self-deprivation
Cooperation for the
good of the majority
Grade 3-Cooperation within the group
Grade 5-Rule of the majority

Civics and culture (grades 1-3)
Geography, history, and civics (grades 4-6)
Core valuesHuman rights concepts
Will to discover the
truth and good
Grade 1-Love of knowledge
Grade 5-Wise and rightful use of knowledge
Grade 6-Knowledge for progress
Appreciation of
one's strengths
and weaknesses
Grade 1-Self-awareness
Grade 2-One's strengths and weaknesses
Grade 3-Developing one's potential and abilities
Self-disciplineGrades 1 and 2-School rules
Ways of acknow-
ledging belief in
Grade 1-Faith in God
Grade 2-Respect for place of worship
Grade 3-Respect for one's religion and beliefs
Grade 4--Abundant blessings from God
Grade 5-Living in accordance with one's beliefs
Grade 6-Appreciation of godly deeds
Respect for each otherGrade 1-Respect for parents, elders, and other members of the family
Grade 2-Respect for other children, and school officials
Grade 3-Respect for officials and authorities as members of the Community
Grade 4-Respect for people's right to ownership
Grade 5-Respect for human rights
Grade 6-Respect for law, authority, and freedom
Concern for othersGrade 2-Concern for others, school, and community
Grade 6-Concern for people in need

Civics and culture (grades 1-3)
Geography, history, and civics (grades 4-6)
Core valuesHuman rights concepts
Different ways to
maintain peace
Grade 2-Happy and peaceful community
Grade 3-Concern for others for a peaceful environment
Grade 4-Respect for culture and peaceful living
Grade 5-Cooperation toward peace
Grade 6-Solving crisis toward peace
Helping one another
for the good of the
Grade 1-Family solidarity
Grade 2-Cooperation in the community
Grade 3-Cooperation in groups
Grade 4-One country, one mind
Grade 5-Rule of the majority
Grade 6-Love, cooperation, and helpfulness
Awareness on the
culture of other
Grade 1-Equality among all human being
Grade 2-Respect for all people
Grade 3-Respect for one's beliefs, opinions, customs, and traditions
Grade 4-Respect for other countries' contribution to Philippine culture
Grade 5-Awareness of our cultural contributions to other countries
Grade 6-Spreading peace and cooperation

Music, arts, and physical education
Core valuesHuman rights concepts
Respect for one's cultureGrade 6-Cultural heritage

Home economics and livelihood education (grades 4-6)
Core valuesHuman rights concepts
Positive self-
Grade 4-Self-confidence
Grade 5-Membership in different organizations
Concern for others
for the good of
Grade 4-Concern for the sick, disabled, and old
Grade 5-Concern for fellows in times of need
Attitude toward
Grade 4-Commitment to labor
Grade 5-Honor and the dignity of labor

   The teaching of human rights concepts is encouraged through different approaches, strategies, and techniques. Various means can be explored to make teaching interesting, relevant, and meaningful. The Bureau of Elementary Education also prepared interactive instructional materials on preventing child abuse, to be published by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). The bureau also prepared guidelines on indigenization and localization of curriculum to respect cultural diversity. This encourages the use and improvement of local resources. Localizing the curriculum is a way to preserve and develop the cultural heritage of the different regions.
   All endeavors in teaching human rights concepts will not succeed if the milieu is not conducive to learning. Human rights education should be child friendly. This affirms DepEd's drive to establish child-friendly schools with support from local government units, UNICEF, and other partner agencies and organizations.
   A child-friendly school is more than just a place for formal learning--such a school recognizes and respects children's rights other than for education, including the right to be healthy, to be safe from harm and abuse, and to participate in activities according to their evolving capacities. A child-friendly school also teaches children to respect the rights of others, practice tolerance, and respect diversity.

Integrating human rights education into the secondary-school curriculum

   Secondary-school students range from 12 to 16 years old. They are heterogeneously grouped in class and, therefore, the level of discussion, particularly on sensitive issues, is high. Usually case studies are given where students can analyze and synthesize what they learn about human rights, and decide and commit that they will be respected.
   Below is the matrix showing the integration of human rights concepts across the five learning areas.

Human rights concepts by learning area

   First year. Identification of rights. How are rights respected and protected? Discussion should be relevant to 12-year-old students.
   Second year. Discussion including responsibilities to other people and prevention and control of human rights violations.
   Third year. Effectiveness of communication and expression of opinion to avoid conflicts. Discussed cases start from the level of the family, to the classroom, to the community. Respect for the opinion of others, and freedom to air oral and written grievances are emphasized.
   Reconciling contradictions. Students recommend ways to agree after disagreeing. After discussing issues and concerns, students should be able to respect the decision of the majority. CORA is used to emphasize this:
    C - concern for others
    O - openness of communication to avoid conflicts
    R - respect for other people's ideas and opinions
    A - acceptance of the decision of the majority without any intention to separate or form another group.
   Fourth year. Several topics are discussed as needed. The topics are self-explanatory. After the English course, family members, classmates, and friends are expected to have internalized, and to practice respect for, individual rights.

   Concepts are integrated in first and second year. The learning area is the improvement of skills in communication. Content-based instruction or topics taken from social studies are used to teach these skills. Thus, among the recommended topics are human rights concepts as listed in the matrix (Annex A).
   Discussions emphasize that "no person is above the law," that freedom in a democracy should not be "abused," and that the rights of every citizen are guaranteed in a democracy.
   Topics such as the following are discussed:
  • The plight of overseas Filipino workers: Are they modern-day heroes?
  • Freedom of religion. The teacher affirms that religious worship is everyone's right and must be respected and safeguarded.
  • In second year, nationalism and independence, and the means to safeguard our freedom.
  • Care for the environment and conservation of the ecology, without delaying progress.
  • Nationalism in Asia: how big and rich countries exploit poor countries via commerce and trade, loans, and other means.
   First year. How land and water resources must be protected to serve the next generation.
   Second year. Maintaining ecological balance and solving environmental problems.
   Third year. Chemistry, including effects of chemicals on living things, factors affecting rates of reactions in food, dumping of toxic waste, etc.

   Component subjects include social studies, values education, technology and home economics, music, arts, physical education, and health. It is in social studies, however, that most of the concepts are integrated. In values education students internalize human rights education. Human rights concepts are easily integrated into other components (music, arts, physical education, and health).
   First year (social studies). The subject includes the historical background, legal basis of the creation, and functions and responsibilities, of the PCHR; rights of children; analysis of forms of violation (who, how, and when); and ways to prevent violations (such as letting the children commit to respect the rights of others). Discussions also focus on the rights of women, special children, and indigenous people.
   Second year. Case studies of human rights violations are mostly from Asia, their effect on national progress and relationships among countries. Preventing human rights violations forms the last part of the discussion. Among the violations noted are the following:
  • dumping of toxic waste, especially in developing countries;
  • deprivation of safe and nutritious food;
  • extreme poverty, leading to the exclusion of the poor from mainstream society;
  • terrorism in all forms;
  • arbitrary deprivation of nationality;
  • hostage-taking;
  • torture and other cruel punishments;
  • discrimination in all forms; and
  • trafficking of women and children (for prostitution, forced labor, sexual slavery and abuse).
   Students are asked to offer solutions and recommendations to reduce violations.
   Third year. The focus is global. International conflicts, war, disputes, terrorism, racial discrimination, hunger are discussed. Students are motivated to search the Internet for cases.
   Fourth year. Focus is on consumers' rights. The laws that safeguard the rights of the buying public are discussed. As students are 16 to 18 years old, the level of discussion is higher. Observation, interviews, and case studies are employed.
   At the end of fourth year, students are expected to internalize and practice everything they have learned about human rights. Human rights concepts are integrated even into mathematics.


   No cause is more worthy than the cause of human rights. Human rights are more than legal concepts; they are the essence of man. They are what make man human. That is why they are called human rights: deny them and you deny man's humanity.
         --Jose W. Diokno
           Defender of human rights

by Jose W. Diokno

   There is one dream that all Filipinos share; that our children may have a better life than we have had. So there is one vision that is distinctly Filipino: the vision to make this country, our country, a nation for our children.
   A NOBLE nation, where homage is paid not to who a man is or what he owns, but to what he is and what he does.
   A PROUD nation, where poverty claims no man to the plow. Forces no woman to prostitute herself and condemns no child to scrounge among garbage.
   A FREE nation, where men and women and children from all regions and with all kinds of talents may find truth and play and sing and laugh and dance and love without fear.
   A JUST nation where whatever inequality exists is caused not by the way people act towards each other but by difference in natural talents; where poverty, ignorance, and hunger are attacked and every farmer has land that no one can grab from him; every breadwinner, a job that is satisfying and pays him enough to provide a decent standard of living; every family, every home from which it cannot be evicted; and everyone, a steadily improving quality of life.
     An INDEPENDENT nation which rejects foreign dictation, depends on itself, thinks for itself, and decides for itself what the common good is, how it is to be attained, how its costs and benefits are to be distributed.
     An HONORABLE nation where public powers are used for the public good and not for the private gain of some Filipinos and some foreigners whose leaders speak not only well but fruitfully and honestly; a nation that is itself and seeks to live in PEACE and BROTHERHOOD with all other nations of the world.


Human Rights Concepts Across Learning Areas

Year levelEnglishFilipinoScienceMakabayanMathematics
First yearDo I step on the rights of others?- Government of laws
- Citizens and the laws
- Democracy and freedom
- Human rights--a challenge to the democratic process
- Religion as a right
Conservation of soil, forest, and wild life for the next generationFocus: Human rights
- history
- causes
- forms of violation
- prevention of violations
- case studies
Cooperative and interactive learning is employed to deliver the content. Members of the team or groups are encouraged to freely express their ideas, opinions, and views.
Respect for expression is protected.
Second yearConcerns about people's rights- Nationalism and independence
- Environment and progress
- Neocolonialism in Asia
- Nationalism in Asia
Prevention of ecological problemsIssues and concerns in Asia
Focus: Same as above
Human rights can be integrated into this and other learning areas.
Third year- Breaking down walls
- Reconciling contradictions

- Importance of controlling rates of reaction in technology
- Application of factors affecting rates of reaction in food preservation, fire control, pollution, corrosion, material production, etc.
Global human rights concerns
- conflicts
- war
- terrorism
- racial discrimination
- hunger
- case studies

Fourth yearMaking my voice heard
Learning to think freely
Education for justice
- defending basic human rights
- speaking out in defense of others
- in defense of life
- the culture of nonviolence
- justice delayed is justice denied
- tempering justice with mercy
- accepting cultural differences
- going global

Consumers rights
- laws
- program and projects

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