On the eve of Rizal Day, a Twitter account under the name of Nadine Lustre claimed that “six years of repeated history was a waste of time.” The post quickly went viral and has generated passionate responses from history educators as well as her fans. The back-and-forth provides us with an opportunity to examine the state of history education in the Philippines.

In reality, under the K plus 12 curricula, the only time Philippine history is offered in basic education is during Grade 5 and 6. After that, students will have to wait for six years or until they get to college before they can have their next Philippine history class.

Therefore, it is mind-boggling for anyone to claim that it is being taught repetitively for six years. That wasn’t even the case prior to the introduction of K plus 12, where the subject is offered during Grade 5 and then during first year high school.

Admittedly, many history teachers focus on making students memorize names, dates and places without adequately discussing the context and implication of these.

However, it would be wrong to place all the blame on teachers. They may have been tempted to take that short cut because they do not have a solid background in history education themselves.

Elementary teachers, after all, are expected to be generalists. For instance, it is common to see teachers who handle Araling Panlipunan along with Edukasyon sa Pagpapakatao.

If anything, there must be consistent efforts from the Department of Education to strengthen teachers’ competence in teaching history. And yes, it is still imperative to teach Philippine history in high school again.

Mark Pere Madrona teaches for the Department of Education-Quezon City and University of the Philippines-Diliman. He owns the blog The Filipino Scribe.