Civics training

What is Civics? Why should it concern us, Filipinos?

Civics is the study of the rights and obligations of those who live in society. The word is taken from the Latin “civicus,” which means that which relates to citizens or simply citizen. Specifically, it focuses on the study, understanding and the shaping of the behavior of people in society, as that behavior affects others and the community itself.

From this definition alone, it would seem there should be no debate about Civics being an important thing to learn, and therefore must be taught without objection to everyone in society. Unfortunately, this is not the case. I am told that in the past, it was taught to our elementary and high school students as Sibika at Kultura (Civics & Culture), but that since the ’80s, or even before that, it had stopped being part of the school curriculum, being replaced by Araling Panlipunan (Social Studies).

I am aligned with those who believe it must it be brought back. But why?

The short and simple answer is because Civics, with its emphasis on the acquisition and practice of social values, engagement in organized causes, cooperation with others, understanding on how our government works, and the use of critical thinking to bear on the issues of the day, teaches students to become responsible citizens able to meaningfully participate in community endeavors and thereby contribute to the overall good of society.

Civics is important, particularly to the youth, because young people are the hope of every nation in the world. They will be leaders and drivers of the future. As such, they hold special significance to society.

Civics is critical to our overall education because it makes us aware that, as individuals and as parts of a collective, it is our responsibility and duty to act in accordance with the needs of our community and country.

Civics posits that these rights and duties must be exercised timely and responsibly. Examples are voting well in elections, paying your share of taxes for the support of government and the myriad of services emanating from its different agencies, obeying the law, seeking the assistance of the law when your rights are violated and making known your mind through legitimate protests when you disagree with a government policy or practice.

Civics entails the teaching of valuable skills that are useful in a proper time to others and to your own respective communities. They include training on search and rescue operations in disasters, first aid and medics training in medical emergencies, clean-up activities of the environment, such as when oil from an oil-bearing ship capsizes and its contents are washed ashore, or as reserve force in traffic management, and skills acquisition in reforestation.

Civics is very valuable to those who did not finish school because it helps them acquire employable skills. Security agencies, employers in the maritime trade and homeowners’ associations in condominiums and subdivisions prefer hiring personnel who, while they lack sufficient formal schooling, are nonetheless trained in practical communal skills, especially in disaster preparedness and damage control.

The reintroduction of Civics in schools and its teaching may perhaps be simply integrated into the Civic Welfare Training component of the already ongoing National Service Training Program of the government.

It must, however, be refocused so that it acquires a new thrust or emphasis, that of the purposeful education of young Filipinos into the civic virtues that will later enable them as adults to be active citizens of the Philippines, able to meaningfully participate in the public process and contribute to the betterment of Filipino society.

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