THE integration of product standards as among the topics on consumer education for high school students can greatly help the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in its drive to produce more vigilant and responsible consumers.

Marie Camille B. Castillo of the Bureau of Trade Regulation and Consumer Protection (BTRCP), an office under the DTI, said that by integrating consumer education into the curriculum of secondary schools in the country, consumers will be more aware of their rights and responsibilities as well.

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Consumer Education will be integrated in the existing secondary subjects, which include English, Filipino, Mathematics, Science, Araling Panlipunan, Music, Arts, Physical Education and Health (Mapeh), Technology and Livelihood Education (TLE), and Values Education.

Eighteen Fair Trade Laws and the One Town One Product (Otop) program shall be the ones integrated in the said subjects.

During the BTRCP's monitoring activities in Davao City and Davao del Norte for the initial integration of product standards in the Alternative Learning System (ALS), the non-formal education being offered by the Department of Education (DepEd), last January 19 to 21, Castillo explained to the students the relevance of product quality and safety.

"Halimbawa na lamang ay ang monoblock chair. Nire-regulate naming 'yan para safe na gamitin. In testing monoblock chairs, hinahagis-hagis namin 'yan at pinapatungan ng mga 250 pounds of weight para masiguro namin ang durability ng produkto. This is just one of the many products that we test for compliance to product standards," Castillo said.

Castillo added that in partnering with the DepEd, DTI is assured of the program's success.

"Nakipag-partner kami sa DepEd para mas mapalawak pa ang kaalaman ukol sa product standards at iba pang paksa sa Consumer Education. Naniniwala kami sa DTI na ang DepEd ay tiyak na makakatulong sa amin para ipaalam sa lahat kung ano ang ating mga karapatan bilang mamimili. And in knowing about our rights, we must also learn about our roles and responsibilities as consumers," Castillo said.

Erlinda G. Angeles of the DepEd-Bureau of Alternative Learning System (Bals), who is also one of the authors of the product standards modules for the ALS, said that before getting involved with this initiative, her awareness on consumer rights and concerns "was not that high."

"On a scale of one to 10, masasabi kong nasa five lang ang awareness ko dyan. But with my involvement, that awareness was raised, I think, to 10. One of the salient information I got was the 3Rs wherein a consumer is given three options: refund, repair, replace, once he is not satisfied with the product he has purchased," Angeles said.

For the ALS, 10 modules are being developed and tailored-fit for this specific group, based on the important features of the law on product standards.

Gerly Mae O. Dabalos, an ALS-Davao City teacher, introduced to her students the relevance of Philippine Standards (PS) and Import Commodity Clearance (ICC) marks during a class demonstration.

She cited that these marks are proof of quality and serve as assurance to consumers that the products with these marks have passed the standards set forth by the government.

PS is the quality mark posted on locally-made products, while ICC is for the imported ones.