Historian pushes for a textbook review on martial law revisionism

Philippine Historical Association Secretary Jonathan Balsamo said on Monday night, September 24, that in order to address the impending historical revisionism among younger generation, the existing learning materials about the martial law period must undergo a thorough review.  

In his interview with “The Chiefs” on Cignal TV’s One News, the historian explained that there were instances wherein the textbooks would describe the martial law period under the regime of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos in a positive light.

Balsamo cited reports that textbooks allegedly explain only a one-sided view of the Marcos administration. The learning materials were reportedly focused on the supposed achievements rather than its negative implication on the country and its citizens.

This proved to be alarming as it limits the perspective of the students who knew nothing about what transpired during the said dark times in the Philippine history. Their knowledge of history most likely stems from the information fed to them and at the same time the articles they read made available in alternative resources.

“Maybe it is necessary to review what kind of material sources are accessible to the public because of technology,” the historian added as reported by The Philippine Star.

Despite the abundance of non-conventional learning tools like the Internet, what is taught inside the four corners of the classroom still holds much value.

“What are the accessible materials? There are a lot that are accessible online and are engaging,” Balsamo said.

He also said that the sudden rise of the new technology may constitute a narrow picture of the events that transpired during the iron-clad rule.

In response, the Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Briones said that the K-12 curriculum is keen on training Filipino students to critically assess the information about martial law period and the dictatorship.

“You have to take a look at the overall framework of education right now, specifically K-12,” Briones said.

She said that the public education system changed throughout the years. The education secretary noted that instructors now provide students with a balanced perspective of the dictatorship in order to develop in them the skill to critically analyze the issues.

“Part of the new way that we are trying to teach our learners is to be able to analyze, but in the first place, you have to know how to analyze yourself. You have to teach them to read both sides,” Briones added.

Briones opted to mold the education system into teaching the students to learn not just the negative side of martial law, but also the supposed positive sides of it as claimed by some groups.

“You have to hear both sides, whether it is the good side or the bad side,” she said. “If you say that martial law is bad but you do not see claims that martial law is good, then how do you draw your conclusions?” she asked.

The DepEd chief said that the inaccurate textbooks were not produced by the department and claimed that such are already outdated. She assured the public that they are also working on the nationwide review of textbooks in private schools. 

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