Bishop welcomes mandatory values education for Filipinos

Legislation would require students to study good manners for an hour per day
Bishop welcomes mandatory values education for Filipinos

Students attend a flag-raising ceremony at a government school in Manila, Philippines. (Photo: Jay Directo/AFP)

A Catholic bishop in the Philippines has welcomed the passage of a bill in Congress that will require elementary and high school students to undergo mandatory values education.

Bishop Andrew Alarcon, chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Youth of the bishops' conference, said "good manners and right conduct" are at the core of education.

"The best schools in the world begin with the education of the young in manners, values and virtues," said the church leader.

The bishop said that institutionalizing the teaching of values will reinforce the message that progress can only be achieved by forming the human person first and foremost.

"At a time of digital transformation and [artificial intelligence], we realize all the more the need to focus on being more human," he said.

Bishop Alarcon said that "at the heart of legislation and its implementation is the link between laws and values."

"If citizens and the community do not see the values behind laws, laws become useless," he added.

The Senate approved the bill seeking to institutionalize values education, including the teaching of good manners and right conduct (GMRC), in schools.

Under the proposed Comprehensive Values Education Act, elementary and high school students in public and private schools would be required to take a mandatory GMRC subject for an hour each day.

For kindergarten students, values education would be integrated into their daily learning activities.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, who sponsored the proposed law, said the amount of time allotted to values education in the past was inadequate and did not provide enough time for teachers to engage students in meaningful discussions.

The proposed law mandates that values education classes would include community immersion activities and teacher-parent collaborative learning activities, among others.

"This will allow students to gain real-life experiences in applying their values to difficult situations," said Gatchalian.

The bill also called for a mother tongue-based multilingual education approach to be adopted in teaching values education to make the subject more accessible and user-friendly to students. 

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