20 public schools pilot Lumad curriculum in S. Mindanao

The curriculum, based on the Department of Education's basic elementary and high school curricula, is offered in areas where at least 70 percent of the student population are from Mindanao 's indigenous peoples.

IIPE coordinated with the DepEd in developing and implementing the indigenized curriculum to provide culturally relevant content and strategies, Gonos told MindaNews Wednesday.

"This will liberate the students in indigenous communities from cultural discrimination brought about by the largely Western educational system and help maximize their participation in society," she said

Gonos said the piloting is on its second phase this year covering Grades 2-4 and second year high school classes. The initial stage started in school year 2005-2006. They planned to finish piloting for the rest of the grade and year levels in school year 2007-2008.

Gonos said they went through stages in revising DepEd's Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) to come up with an IP curriculum, which shall be taught by either IP or non-IP teachers.

They held workshops with community and tribal leaders together with teachers. From the workshops they drew out core values as basis for the content of the curriculum. They also drew out mentors' training needs to teach using the curriculum.

They then held IP curriculum "writeshops" to identify general and specific lessons from both BEC's core competencies and that of the IP core values.

Teachers and indigenous peoples' representatives then developed a final curriculum that would be presented to the IP community for free and prior informed consent, then to DepEd for endorsement and implementation.

After the piloting stage, Gonos said, they are working with DepEd in the proposed implementation of the IP curricula in all communities where indigenous people are the majority.

"But this IP curricula could also be used in non-IP communities because it promotes understanding between the Lumads and the other members of the community," Gonos said.

"There is nothing here that non-IP students shouldn't know; these are the same with the regular curriculum only that it promises to mainstream the IP children into formal education while preserving their indigenous culture," she added.

Gonos said the curriculum just localized the general education curricula with the use of culturally sensitive teaching aids, illustrations, examples and context.

The predominant groups in the pilot schools are from the Mandaya, Ata Manobo, Matigsalog, Tagakaolo, Manguangan, Bagobo, Mansaka, Isama, and B'laan communities. The schools are from 13 towns or districts in Compostela Valley, Davao City, Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental, Davao del Sur, Digos City and the Island Garden City of Samal.

Gonos said they also launched three IP learning centers in the premises of the pilot schools in Atan-Owe Elementary School in Davao City highlighting Bagobo customs and traditions; Caraga National High School in Davao Oriental featuring the Mandaya tribe; and Tibi-Tibi Elementary School in Davao del Norte highlighting the Ata-Manobo.

Before they started the curriculum indigenization program, Gonos said they toured tribal learning centers around the country.

She cited some private schools being run by religious groups in the IP communities that use IP curricula, but they do not use DepEd's public education curriculum.

Gonos said they are holding the Kasamongan Festival on Aug. 17 to gather different IP tribes for a medley of arts and cuisine. There will be lumad rituals, craft exhibits, literary and cultural presentations. Students from the pilot areas of the IP curriculum will present indigenous poetry, short stories, dances, songs and chants during the festival.

Gonos said the primary goal of the festival is to showcase the IP's knowledge systems as it is passed in pilot schools. She said they scheduled it during Davao's Kadayawan Festival so merrymakers could also see the children's showcase of lumad culture.

IIPE is a project of a consortium of the DepEd in Southeastern Mindanao, Basic Education Assistance for Mindanao (BEAM), the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and other government and non-government organizations working on education in Mindanao.

Strengthening indigenous peoples' education is among the government's goals based on the Medium Term Philippine Development Plan from 2004-2010.

Aside from the IP curriculum, DepEd and the NCIP and other related institutions also planned to include IP materials and documents in public libraries to permit information sharing and exchange between cultures and to accommodate IP students in all programs for children and students such as health and nutrition, arts and school sports and their teachers in in-service training programs. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)