MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/13 July) – The Department of Education in Bukidnon is doubling the number of teachers trained to pursue the Mother Tongue-based Multi-Lingual Education for indigenous peoples with additional teachers to be trained this month.
According to Dr. Ingrid Racoma, schools division superintendent, said that in 2009, DepEd Bukidnon trained at least 43 teachers to pilot the MTBMLE in the towns of Talakag, Impasug-ong, and Damulog. She said the three towns have big population density of IPs.
She told the Bukidnon Press Club Tuesday they will bring the number of teachers to 100 at the end of month after a series of training sessions.
Racoma said they have has consulted tribal chieftains of their implementation of DepEd Order 74, which changed the languages of instruction in basic education from the bilingual to a trilingual one – using the mother tongue, Filipino and English.
“It is important to make it easier to facilitate learning especially in the primary school level,” she added.
She told MindaNews that the effort is the local initiative to respond to the needs of school children in indigenous communities who find it difficult to learn because of the language barrier.
DepEd Order 74 mandates that multilingual education “shall be institutionalized as a fundamental educational policy in the whole stretch of formal education including pre-school and in the Alternative Learning System.”
She said DepEd Bukidnon has translated the primary education curriculum into the dialects of the province’s seven tribes.
But she said some of the tribal chieftains expressed fear that they might lose their culture even with the translated lessons and the trained teachers.
She added that the DepEd curriculum in areas where MTBMLE is piloted includes the promotion of their culture. Racoma said the chieftains have helped them come up with authentic educational materials.
Among the interventions, she said, is the hiring of teachers from the indigenous peoples themselves and the training of more non-IP teachers already hired.
DepEd Bukidnon has 4,339 elementary school teachers, she said.
But she said they have a problem with the funding and welcomed DepEd Bukidnon’s inclusion as the pilot schools division in Northern Mindanao for DepEd’s Philippines’ Response to Indigenous Peoples and Muslim Education (PRIME), a project with the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).
She said the selection of the province does not come as good news from the surface.
Racoma said aside from the fact that Bukidnon is home to the largest IP population density in Region 10 and its poverty index, the selection also means the schools division of Bukidnon has “poor educational performance.”
She said it shows that the division, which excludes the cities of Malaybalay and Valencia, has poor performance in different indicators – low participation rate, high drop our rate, and low performance in the National Achievement Test, among others.
“But in the end, we are given an opportunity to improve. Our selection to the program is one more chance,” she added.
Of the at least 100 schools divisions in the country, Racoma said Bukidnon is in the bottom 40, using performance assessments made in 2007. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)