DepEd reaffirms commitment to protect the rights of IPs to education

Published October 28, 2019, 9:36 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Merlina Hernando-Malipot

As it joins the celebration of the National Indigenous Peoples’ Month this October, the Department of Education (DepEd) assured that it continues to uphold the right to basic education of Indigenous People (IP) learners nationwide.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones (DepEd / MANILA BULLETIN)
Education Secretary Leonor Briones

Education Secretary Leonor Briones assured IP communities and about 2.6 million IP learners in the public school system that DepEd continues to uphold their right to basic education. The national data as of SY 2018-2019 showed a total of 2,593,555 IP learners enrolled in 39,994 public schools; 253,113 IP learners in 10,980 private schools nationwide.

“We care about the 2.6 million IP learners all over the country spread in 31,000 schools,” Briones said. “We care about them and we care about what are taught, who their teachers are, what their activities are and what they do after, before or after the schooling,” she added.

DepEd has been under fire recently for ordering the closure of Salugpongan schools in Davao region for their failure to comply with the requirements set by the department. Various groups raised concerns on the continuity of learning among affected students.

But Briones assured that the case of the former students of Salugpongan schools – 1,000 of them – are “already enrolled in nearby DepEd schools.” Parents of affected IP learners who have yet to enroll in DepEd schools, she added, are “encouraged to bring their children to school.”

“The issue is about protecting the children’s right to quality education as mandated by the Constitution – DepEd is doing exactly that,” Briones said. “Children are in schools; they go to regular classes; they are with their parents,” she added.

Likewise, Briones also pointed out that DepEd is “continuously working for the welfare of the marginalized group” through the National Indigenous Peoples Education (IPEd) Program. Initiated in 2013, the IPEd Program has strengthened the enabling conditions for culture-based education while promoting the value of indigenous identity, knowledge, competencies, and other aspects of their cultural heritage.

The program’s initiatives include the establishment of dialogue mechanisms with IP communities, personnel hiring and capacity development, and responding to access concerns. Curriculum contextualization and Mother Tongue-based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE) implementation have been prioritized in support of the development of culturally appropriate learning resources and the environment.

Currently, DepEd said there are more than 90,000 IP learners directly being served through contextualized lesson plans and 112 IP languages are used in developing MTB-MLE prerequisites.

Meanwhile, DepEd also noted that 16 Regional Offices – including the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) – and 117 divisions have been provided IPEd Program Support Fund (PSF) and technical assistance.