THE Department of Education (DepEd) further strengthened the Indigenous Peoples Education (IPEd) program through continuous consultations with IP elders, leaders and community representatives during the 2017 National Indigenous Peoples Education Gathering on January 10 in Davao City.
The gathering commemorated 10 years of meaningful dialogue between the DepEd and IP communities all over the country that led to the birth of various policy issuances that provide appropriate directions for IPEd Program implementing regions and divisions, so that initiatives are responsive to the aspirations and educational needs of IP learners.
A prayer-blessing opened the second decade of dialogue, with community elders and leaders expressing their hopes for a deepening relationship between IP communities and the Education department and praying for the guidance and well-being of all those involved in implementing the IPEd Program.
In her keynote message, Education Secretary Leonor Briones highlighted specific education concerns that have direct bearing on IP learners and communities and the implementation of an education that is geared toward a more quality, accessible, relevant and liberating basic education for all.
She cited the importance of environmental protection in the curriculum as one way to contribute in keeping IP learners and communities safe, as their identity, culture and livelihood are shaped by the natural environment surrounding their communities.
Briones called on DepEd to be a champion of the environment as this is a concern of all, not only of IP communities.
The Education chief noted the significance of utilizing technology in ensuring that the cultures of various IP communities in the country are nurtured and protected.
She advised not just IP learners but all Filipino learners, “You have to be brave, you should be courageous, you should not be afraid even as you know that the world is changing and by the time that you graduate, it will change even more.”
As of 2016, the IPEd program has reached 16 regions, 31 cities and 80 provinces; established mechanisms for engagement and partnership with 170 Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICCs) in 290 communities nationwide; developed more than 500 contextualized lesson plans in collaboration with 60 ICCs located in over 200 communities nationwide; and conducted basic training on IPEd and the use of contextualized lesson plans to 2,718 schools serving IP learners.
The IPEd program is also working on the development of the basic requirements—orthography, dictionary, grammar book and reading materials—to implement the Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education with 65 ICCs.
With the opening of the second decade of dialogue, future directions include institutionalizing the mechanisms of dialogue toward effective curriculum contextualization and program implementation, strengthening and expanding school level implementation of the IPEd Program and systematizing the delivery of DepEd services—both formal and altenative—in far-flung IP communities, among others.