By Charissa Luci-Atienza
An opposition lawmaker is proposing to institutionalize human rights education in basic and higher education institutions.
Magdalo party list Rep. Gary Alejano, a staunch critic of President Duterte, said as an integral part of the Constitution, human rights is a concept that all Filipinos must learn if we are to survive as a modern democracy.
“Institutionalizing human rights education would ensure that our people will come to understand and fully appreciate human rights and instill in them a sense of responsibility to respect, defend, and promote such rights,” he said.
He filed House Bill 7664 requiring all educational institutions to teach human rights as a specialised subject taught separately and progressively throughout the basic and higher education programs.
“Considering the current political climate: the indiscriminate killing of alleged drug suspects without due process, the repression of free speech and expression, and the seemingly passive, if not dreadfully supportive citizens desensitized to such horrendous violations of basic human rights, it is timely that their proposed measure be enacted so as to correct the seemingly wayward track that our shared values are currently traversing,” Alejano said.
The proposed Human Rights Education Act tasks the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to identify international human rights education standards or best practices for basic and higher education, respectively.
In consultation with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR). the DepEd and CHED are mandated to formulate the respective curricula and course programmes for human rights studies for basic and higher education within one year from the effectivity of the proposed Act and implement it within two years.
The curricula shall consist of teaching modules or course syllabi that cover an introduction to basic human rights principles such as equality, non-discrimination, human dignity, inclusion, empowerment, environmental awareness and respect for the rights of women, children,indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities (PWDs), and other marginalized or vulnerable sectors. It shall also focus on personal values, attitudes, and behaviours that promote personal responsibility for respecting, upholding and protecting human rights; and provide practical information for protecting oneself from gender-baed violence, child abuse, and exploitation.