Philippine subjects now being taught at Catholic schools in Canada


A partnership between a group of educators and the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) has resulted in a curriculum that would teach Canadian students Philippine subjects, including geography, social science and dance at Catholic schools in Toronto, Ontario.

Professor Philip Kelly, a York University geography professor, led a study which found that children of Filipino immigrants often had lower levels of education compared to their peers in Canada, despite their parents having the highest level of education compared to other immigrant groups.

Faculty associates from the York Centre for Asian Research, together with professors from York University’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies and the School of the Arts, Media, Production & Design, partnered with teachers and staff from TCDSB to develop school curriculum material focused on the Filipino experience in Canada.

Subjects like geography, social science and dance are being updated to recognize the fast-growing Filipino community in the Greater Toronto Area. The GTA is home to over 285,000 Filipinos.

The new curriculum was launched in March and came as a pleasant surprise to Filipino students with little to no connection to the country of their parents’ birth.

The new curriculum is part of an initiative by the PASSOC Project, a partnership between TCDSB and York University.

PASSOC stands for Philippine Arts and Social Studies in the Ontario Curriculum, and is a play on the word “pasok” which means “to get into” in Pilipino.

The PASSOC Project received funding from the Canadian Heritage Canada 150 Fund, the Toronto Catholic District School Board and the York Centre for Asian Research.

Kelly’s study also attributed lower levels of education to Filipino youth not being able to relate to what is being taught in the curriculum. The PASSOC Project aims to change that, and to give Filipino youth and students from other cultural backgrounds role models whom they can identify with.

TCDSB representatives said that the project holds much promise for Newcomer students. Having access to culturally responsive material in the curriculum might inspire students, helping them engage at a deeper and more meaningful level with subject matter they can easily identify with.

The PASSOC Project also helps Filipino youth share their rich history and culture with Canadian students from other backgrounds, helping them find similarities that they can share and discuss with each other.

Click here to learn more about the PASSOC Project:

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