EDITORIAL: Career-focus Education for IPs
DepEd marks 1st decade of Indigenous Peoples Education Program - at least there is a specific program of recognition of the constitutional rights of Filipino Indigenous peoples’ educational needs. It will also help push existing peace and development programs in the countryside.
The education department, in 2021 reported having served at least 2.5 million IP learners around the country. While this is commendable it does not yet remove the issue of marginalization of IPs in terms of academic programs and curriculum.
The state recognizes the rights of IPs to education, in fact it is also aware of the shortcomings and problems pertaining to schools, financing, and infrastructure problems - of teachers, and their lack of readiness to adapt traditional culture and practices into their teaching methods.
Studies show teachers’ lack of technical awareness that aboriginal students will have to learn differently. Hence this affects their effectiveness and quality of teaching. The education department tries to correct education marginalization with a alternative learning schemes thinking that it will correct the social and cultural divides. However, this is still missing, and inadvertently evading the issue of academic program deficiency.
We do not have a specific academic programs designed for meaningful integration into the social and economic system of the country for Filipino IPs. We need more than policies, we need more than culturally aware teachers, or alternative education schemes. We need IP-specific development curriculum, and career oriented courses that will produce sufficient number of IP entrepreneurs, doctors, engineers, technicians and IPs pursuing and practicing their professions in the global stage. We need Filipino IPs who are proud and honoured of their cultural heritage.
We don’t want IPs to know only about their rights in the constitution. We don’t want Filipino IPs to be just tourist attractions, or participants in cultural events, or, as hired and exploited participants in social and political activism.
This decade must be dedicated and programmed to be a period of meaningful change for the real and authentic Filipinos. But since our IPs does not have the money to finance their career-based education the government must shoulder the cost, or must pay private schools for the program to be realized and implemented.