In 2019, the University of Santo Tomas (UST) in Manila, Philippines, was selected as one of the 14 local antennas across 13 countries for an undertaking sponsored by the Fondazione Pontificia Gravissimum Educationis on “Democracy: An educational urgency in pluricultural and plurireligious contexts.” This led the Philippine local team headed by Prof. Allan de Guzman, with members Prof. Belinda de Castro and Assoc. Prof. Joel Adamos of the UST Research Center for Social Sciences and Education, to embark on a three-year project, which culminated in a presentation at the international congress entitled “Educating for Democracy in a Fragmented World” organized by the Fondazione in Rome’s Libera Università Maria Santissima Assunta (LUMSA) from 17-19 March 2022.
Representing the local team in the congress, Prof. De Guzman presented a report that resulted from three years of research study that involved a total of 33,648 public school teachers representing 16 regions in the country, a series of international colloquy, the offering of an evidence-based certificate program on “Teaching Controversial Public Issues and Digital Literacy for Democratic Citizenship”, and the launching of the Advocatus website. Aiming to communicate discourses of scholars on democracy and how it permeates across disciplines, the website has, to date, published a total of eight theoretical essays.
Prof. De Guzman underscored in his report the power of education and the role of teachers not just as gatekeepers of pedagogy but as active agents in promoting and strengthening democratic principles, practices, and values. The three-year implementation of the democracy project has opened a number of promising opportunities: institutionalization of democracy and education as a research agenda with interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary orientations; system-wide adoption and implementation of the certificate program with prospects for extension to the neighboring countries in Southeast Asia; and maintenance and innovation of Advocatus as a dynamic space for meaningful exchanges relative to democracy and education. These trajectories accentuate UST’s commitment in supporting the call for a true education that is aimed “at the formation of the human person in the pursuit of his ultimate end and of the good of the societies of which, as man, he is a member, and in whose obligations, as an adult, he will share.” (GE, 1965)
See related story at vaticannews.va (Accessed 27 April 2022)