Senator Leila M. de Lima is pushing anew for the passage of her measure requiring all educational institutions to include human rights as a specialized subject taught separately and progressively throughout the basic and higher education programs.
De Lima, former chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), reintroduced Senate Bill (SB) No. 1145 which seeks to institutionalize human rights as a separate and specialized subject in both basic and higher education.
“Even with the K-to-12 Program now in place, [Human Rights Education] is still merely incorporated in various existing subjects from Grades 1-12,” she said.
“In a time when human rights violations are rampant and pervasive, [i]t is but the State’s responsibility to protect every citizen against human rights abuse both by state and private actors,” she added.
The lady Senator from Bicol noted that subsequent legislations, such as the “Free Secondary Education Act” and the “Magna Carta of Women,” expressly mandate government agencies to teach human rights in schools and other training institutions.
De Lima, a known human rights advocate here and abroad, pointed out that various international human rights instruments, many of which are ratified by the Philippines, encourage State parties to provide for human rights education (HRE).
These include the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to name some.
Based on the 2012 study by the CHR and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), HRE was taught only at the appreciation level, prompting calls to deepen the conduct of HRE across the world.
“This measure adopts the recommendation of the CHR-UNDP study to deepen HRE by institutionalizing human rights as a separate and specialized subject in both basic and higher education,” she said.
The Senator explained that HRE must be taught from early childhood education onwards in order to build a strong, positive human rights culture where everyone’s rights are fully protected and realized.
“Institutionalizing HRE into the basic and higher education school curricula will also ensure that a comprehensive, effective, sustainable, and standardized human rights education will be replicated in all schools nationwide,” she said.
Under SB No. 1145, the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) are mandated to consult with the CHR and formulate the corresponding curricula and the course programmes for HRE in the country.
According to De Lima, teaching modules should cover an introduction to basic human rights principles, such as equality, non-discrimination, human dignity, inclusion, empowerment, and environmental awareness, among others.
These teaching modules should focus on personal values, attitudes and behaviors that promote one’s responsibility in upholding and protecting human rights and provide practical information for protecting oneself from gender-based abuses, she added.