October 08, 2021 – The Department of Education is serving 2.529 million IP learners in 42,176 public schools around the Philippines in the first decade of the Indigenous Peoples Education (IPEd) Program, according to the agency’s Indigenous Peoples Education Office (IPsEO).

Through DepEd Order 62, s. 2011 or the National Indigenous Peoples Education Policy Framework which was formulated after several consultation sessions with IP leaders and elders the Department officially commenced the institutionalization of the IP Education Program in 2011.  The policy adopts a rights-based approach and directs the implementation of an education that is anchored on the social and cultural context of IP learners.

“IPEd program is DepEd’s response to the right of indigenous communities and indigenous learners to an education that is responsive to their context. It respects their identities, and it values and promotes their knowledge systems, and their competencies, and the values that are important to them, and of course, the other parts of their heritage,” Senior Technical Assistant and IPsEO Head Maria Lourie Victor shared during a DepEd Teaches episode on Thursday.

“This was a product of the dialogue of DepEd and IP communities trying to find common ground so that the advocacy, for what is now called Indigenous Peoples Education, could move forward,” Ms. Victor said.

Despite the extreme impact of the pandemic to IP communities, the enrollment of IP learners in public schools for School Year 2020-2021 reached 98.49% of previous SY in January 2021,  from the 83% initial figure in September 2020.

Some of the continuing initiatives for IP learners to experience culture-responsive education are the contextualization of lesson plans, use of the local language for teaching, having elders as teachers and mentors, using the ancestral domain as classroom, establishing IPEd Senior High School, hiring more teachers who know the knowledge and the culture, and delivering more facilities.

To sustain IPEd in schools in School Year 2021-2022, the Department aims to have additional Program Support Funds (PSF) to ensure learning continuity though continued contextualization of learning resources and COVID-related materials, orientation of new teachers and school heads assigned to schools in IP communities, and enhancement learning delivery modalities.

Furthermore, DepEd plans to support long-term community development through education initiatives that can promote responsive and pandemic-relevant indigenous community knowledges, like indigenous farming and health systems, through the rural farm schools, senior high school offerings, and similar initiatives.  The IPEd Program also seeks to align with the call of UNESCO that all curricula are to have education for sustainable development as its core by 2025.

“And so moving forward, we continue with our journey of solidarity with indigenous communities so that together we are able to care for our IP learners as they grow into the future,” Victor noted.