‘GMRC’ in the time of Duterte
To Filipinos of a certain generation, the subject is better known as “GMRC,” for Good Manners and Right Conduct.
I don’t know what happened in the decades since this was established as part of the public school curriculum, but it has since been dropped as more and more subjects were crammed into a school day.
Apparently, civility was deemed superfluous amid the many basic challenges that schoolchildren needed to know if they were to be “educated.”
But what do you know. Education Secretary Leonor Briones has been quoted as saying that she now wants to restore “GMRC” and “proper values” to the basic education curriculum as part of a review of the “K-to-12” program.
Lessons on proper behavior are apparently considered part of the “basic skills” that education officials wish to impart to students, particularly in the first three levels of education from kindergarten to Grades 1 and 2.
Speaking with reporters, Briones said some of the “basic skills” that young students need to know are “how to say good morning, how to deal with other children, along with basic numeracy and reading skills.”
These are what are known as “socio-emotional skills,” which a recent World Bank report on poverty in the country deemed as important a part of educational reform as reducing the dropout rate.
Briones explained that, in a rapidly changing world, “the values of our society and of the grown-ups are also changing.”
And in a world where children even of poor families are increasingly engrossed in the digital world through their devices, children will need to be led out of their “micro” worlds of pixels into the “real” world of family, friends and classmates.
They will need guides to communicating and relating, basic skills needed if they are to learn to socialize and even lead.
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Reading news of this “balik-GMRC” program, I couldn’t help but note the irony that this renewed drive to produce a generation of polite, well-spoken, obedient and social Filipinos has come at a time when our social discourse has been increasingly tainted by foul language, in-your-face confrontations, and references to individuals’ sex lives, sexual orientation and perversions.
Leading this descent into barbarism is no less than President Duterte, who, even during the campaign, “entertained” cheering crowds by dropping the “P” word (often), telling bawdy tales of clerical abuse and a desire to have been first in line in the gang rape (and murder, too?) of an Australian missionary.
What’s worse, the President’s public and official words and behavior have become a template for his subordinates. And let’s not forget the harassment employed by his army of trolls.
So good luck to the teachers of GMRC subjects.
You have your work cut out for you!
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