DepEd Adopts IP Education Agenda

Article excerpt

PAGADIAN CITY, Zamboanga del Sur, Philippines - A national policy framework (NPF) has been adopted by the Department of Education (DepEd) recently to answer the basic education needs of Indigenous Peoples (IPs) who live in mountain villages and sitios of Mindanao, and other areas of the country. Education Secretary Armin A. Luistro said the NPF for IPs is in line with the country's commitment to achieve its Education for All (EFA) targets, and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which are in pursuant to the DepEd Basic Education Sector Reform Agenda (BESRA). Luistro explained through DepEd Order No. 62, Series of 2011, which was received here lately by DepEd Region 9 Director Walter O. Albos, that the NPF was preceded by a consultative and participatory process held in designated venues of Southern Philippines. Albos said the consultations were followed by a national validation workshop where participants affirmed the principles of the draft framework and later recommended the formulation and implementation of an IP basic education program. The events were attended by qualified representatives from various IP communities in the country, together with concerned government agencies, and civil service society partners to ensure that IP groups can claim ownership of this framework, Albos quoted Luistro's directive. The DepEd chief, Albos said, described the NPF as "an instrument for promoting shared accountability and partnership among education stakeholders, even as it subscribes to the rights-based approach that gives primary importance to the principles of participation, inclusion, and empowerment." Albos also quoted Luistro as explaining that the National Indigenous Peoples Education Policy Framework (NIPEPF), subscribes, among other things, to the following: That, IPs remain to be among the most vulnerable and marginalized members of the citizenry who continue to lack access to decent basic social services, have limited opportunities to engage the mainstream economy, and suffer social, economic and political exclusion. That, among the current disadvantages that IPs face, access to culture-responsive basic education stands out as one of the most critical to address it being an essential means for the IPs to claim their rights, exercise self-determination, and expand the choices available to them. That, elementary and secondary schools accessible to IPs have limited or no capacity to provide culturally appropriate education that is responsive to their context, respects their identities and promotes the value of their traditional knowledge, skills, and other aspects of their cultural heritage. …