MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/02 Feb) — Education Secretary Armin Luistro on Friday apologized and asked Lumads (indigenous peoples) for forgiveness for the government’s failure to give “genuine attention to IP culture in the country.”
In his speech in last week’s 1st Regional IP Youth Summit on IP Education, Luistro said: “Maybe I have the approval of the President (Benigno Aquino III) … we are asking forgiveness for all of the government’s constraints in the past years. We have not given genuine attention to IP culture in the country. In the name of the government, we are asking for understanding and forgiveness from you, leaders of the tribes present,
because our system of education and our government has not given you our right attention,” Luistro said.
His statement came after leaders of the indigenous peoples urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to walk the talk on its pledge to incorporate IP education in its
system, after participants presented their vision of an education system that is “open and free; and is not limited within structured walls but sees the ancestral domain as a rich space for learning.”
Luistro also noted that the indigenous peoples’ heroes in the country are not in DepEd’s textbooks.
Youth representatives from the Manobo, Tigwahanen, Matigasalog, Bukidnon, Higaonon, Talaandig, and Subanen tribes attended the summit on January 29 to 31, where they drafted and presented a Vision of IP Youth on education.
The Summit’s theme was “Strengthening partnership with IP in the 21st Century: An Opportunity to Pursue Culture-Responsive Education.”
Luistro admitted that the present educational system caters to the mainstream of society, leaving the minority at the sidelines.
He also noted that the focus on the rule of majority is the problem of the educational system. He said there are groups whose voices are louder than the others, that’s why the smaller voices like those of the IPs, are seldom heard.
“We are here to listen to the small voices,” he said.
Luistro vowed to incorporate the IP youth’s vision into the system of education. He cited the importance of IP culture in changing society.
“It is the source of ‘stem cell’ to renew the society,” he added.
Datu Vic Migketay Saway of the Talaandig tribe in Songco, Lantapan, Bukidnon told MindaNews he accepted Luistro’s apologies and his appeal for forgiveness because “even before he apologized, he already did something to address the problem.”
He cited the passing of DepEd Order no. 62 (DO 62) which adopted in August 2011 the National Indigenous People’s Education Policy Framework.
In signing the DepEd order, Luistro said it recognizes the faults of the past and is “an invitation for us to change our perspective – the glasses that we normally use to see reality – and exchange that with a perspective that allows us to really be inclusive.”
“Furthermore, it is an invitation to learn with, not just to teach in, indigenous communities that have always been on the sidelines,” he said at the signing of the Dep.Ed order on August 8, 2011.
DepEd adopted D.O. 62 in line with the country’s commitment to achieve its targets of Education for All and the Millennium Development Goals to pursue the Basic Education Sector Reform Agenda.
It intends to promote shared accountability, continuous dialog, engagement, and partnership among IP communities, civil society, and other education stakeholders.
According to the DepEd, D.O. 62 is the result of a consultation conducted among IP representatives and communities, civil society, and other government agencies.
Saway commended Luistro for “his sincerity” and for coming over despite his busy schedule in Manila and despite a leg injury.
Datu Ampuan Jeodoro Sulda, IP mandatory representative in the municipality of Pangantucan, Bukidnon said Luistro did the right thing,
“This is a realization of our aspirations of old. We are happy that the IP youth are here to stand for their future,” he added.
The Summit participants envision, among others, a cultural community that “strongly cares for the ancestral domain, which the foundation of our indigenous knowledge, systems, and practices; a generation that recognizes and respects the elders as a testament of a culture that is alive.”
They also envision an empowered indigenous peoples that strongly hold and live our customs and traditions and look at history as a living guide for our dreams and aspirations.”
They said they want an educational system that “recognizes the indigenous learning system as a legitimate means to teach and learn; respects the elders as keepers of wisdom and skills; provides equal opportunity among indigenous youth to develop and
deepen our understanding and capacities, our dreams and aspirations; an education system that is open and free; and is not limited within structured walls but sees the ancestral domain as a rich space for learning.” (Walter I.Balane/MindaNews)