PASIG CITY, October 31, 2018 – Adamant in recognizing cooperative efforts to ensure quality, accessible, relevant, and liberating basic education for indigenous peoples (IP) learners, the Department of Education (DepEd) and the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) during the 21st anniversary celebration of IP Rights Act (IPRA) on October 25 held at the Century Park Hotel.

DepEd acknowledged the need to strengthen its collaboration with NCIP to provide indigenous cultural communities (ICC)/IP learners with access to quality basic education that is consistent with their cultural integrity, social justice, and human rights, leading to the fulfillment of self-governance and empowerment.

DepEd has also committed to participate in convergence efforts with other agencies to boost the impact of its programs for ICCs/IPs.

Under the MOU, DepEd and NCIP agreed to provide necessary inputs to ensure the swift development of IP Education (IPEd) interventions, in consultation and cooperation with IPs concerned, to ensure that the special needs, histories, identities, languages, knowledge, and other aspects of ICCs/IPs’ culture, as well as their social, economic, and cultural priorities and aspirations, are addressed and incorporated accordingly, as stated in DepEd Order No. 62, s. 2011.

A technical working group (TWG), composed of representatives from each agency, shall be created to review concerns of mutual interest related to IPEd and its implementation.

IP Day and IP Month celebrations
In observance of the National IP Day on August 9 and the National IP Month in October, DepEd reaffirmed its commitment to promote culture-based education for IP learners and sustained initiatives that engage IP communities.

The theme, “Ugnayan ng DepEd at Pamayanan Pagtibayin sa Pangalawang Dekada ng Pagsulong ng Katutubong Edukasyon,” underscores the importance of partnership between DepEd and IP communities, which is moving into its second decade this year, and highlights the meaningful participation of indigenous communities in the inclusion of Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices (IKSPs) and Indigenous Learning Systems (ILS) in the basic education curriculum.

During the IP Luzon Cluster Convergence Summit in July, DepEd Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones expressed the Department’s commitment in continuing the implementation of the IPEd Program, which is anchored on the recognition of the right of IPs to basic education that is responsive to their context, respects their identities, and promotes their indigenous knowledge, competencies, and other aspects of their cultural heritage through the interface of the national basic education system and ILS.

“DepEd is committed to advocating and institutionalizing policies and practices that shall actualize sensitivity and responsiveness of the Department as a whole through its various programs to IP culture, traditions and institutions with full respect to their human rights and freedoms without distinction or discrimination, to achieve full development, cultural integrity, equality, and equity in the enforcement of rights and opportunities granted by the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act and other existing laws and regulations,” Briones said in a written message for the summit.

Finally, Briones emphasized the importance of synergy between DepEd and IP communities: “It is our goal that the IPEd Program shall be managed through a long-term partnership with IP communities at all governance levels to ensure that the program’s vision, strategic directions, and objectives are anchored on an interface of customary and national governance processes.”

Currently, DepEd is working with at least 150 ICCs in the country, 30 of which are in Mindanao. Based on the Basic Education Information System (BEIS) data generated in May, there are a total of 2,607,490 IP learners in the public school system nationwide.

For the integrated commemoration of the National IP Month, DepEd enjoined its offices and schools to focus on advocacy activities that highlight the significance of partnership, and efforts to widen the involvement of communities in education governance and curriculum contextualization.