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Education should be for all.
The Department of Education (DepEd) has shifted the implementation of its Indigenous Peoples Education (IPEd) program to high gear – a long overdue action from a government that operates within a Constitution that has in it a declared state policy of giving priority to education and explicit provisions on the protection and promotion of the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels and the taking of appropriate steps to make such education accessible to all.
The IPEd program of DepEd in the Duterte Administration is clearly designed to give flesh to the Constitutional mandates on education. With the strong political will of the current Administration, we can expect to see significant positive changes in the education of the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) in our country.
The Program targets to provide basic education access to 300 geographically isolated and disadvantaged sites in the country. This is a good illustration of a government that reaches out to the people to serve them and not what has become the norm where people reach out to the government to avail of services.
Building schools in places where the IPs live, even if these are isolated, is an indispensable component of a genuinely people-centered education program of the government.
The DepEd will also hire almost 600 teachers for this program. While having two teachers per school is less than ideal, we can expect the government to hire more teachers as the program implementation progresses.
Another laudable initiative of the government is the development of “indigenized” curriculum for the IP schools. For this year alone, the DepEd targets to develop at least 500 indigenized lesson plans. This initiative is laudable because in its essence is not only the recognition that education approach should be in the context of the learners’ culture but also the respect for the IPs cultures and the understanding of their realities and aspirations.
As a people, we have to admit that IPs have not received the services they deserve as Filipinos from our government for a long time. The IPEd program is valuable because it provides a service (education) that is key to the realization of a better quality of life for them and the preservation of their culture.
(Dr. Ramon Ricardo A. Roque, CESOI, Diplomate)