PASIG CITY, December 7, 2017 – Eleven representatives of Indigenous Peoples (IP) communities from different regions in the Philippines expressed support for the IP Education Program (IPEd) and suggested to Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones ways to strengthen program implementation during the recently concluded 2017 Philippine Education Summit.
Representing their respective communities in Kalinga, Pampanga, Rizal, Tacloban City, Bukidnon, Agusan del Sur, Davao del Sur, and South Cotabato, they affirmed DepEd’s efforts to involve IP communities in local education initiatives that actively promote their culture and aspirations. They also shared with Secretary Briones identified concerns that need to be addressed for effective school-level implementation.
“I was struck by the theme, ‘Sustaining Gains, [Closing the Gaps],’ … we can also make sustaining partnership between DepEd and the council of elders,” a representative from Kalinga pointed out.
The remark was seconded by a representative from Bukidnon, who highlighted that the presence of elders in the teaching-learning process is essential in ensuring that IP learners are able to grasp the wisdom and richness of their culture, tradition, and morals, which include a deep respect for elders in words, thought and action, and dialogue when faced with challenges. They underlined the importance of strengthening community values especially among younger generations of IP learners.
Other concerns consulted with the Education chief were the hiring of teachers, improving the capacity of teachers for culture-based education, need for schools in far-flung communities, partnership with local government units (LGUs), and sustainability of the IPEd Program.
The representatives also agreed on the need to recognize, include, and develop indigenous sports so that their children may be able to hone and nurture their homegrown skills in bigger events like the Palarong Pambansa.
The lone student representative also shared his hope that the IPEd Program will be experienced not only by his generation of students but the coming generations as well.
The Education chief assured the group that the concerns and suggestions raised will be taken up with the members of DepEd’s Management Committee, and reiterated her commitment to uphold the rights of indigenous groups: “Ayokong mabura ang kultura, pag-uugali, pananalita ng mga orig na Pilipino. Walang masama na magkaiba tayo, walang masama na magkaiba ang pananalita natin pero may common history tayo as Filipinos. Isa lang ito sa ating pagkikita-kita. . . I’m very interested to learn from you and your customs.”