251 new schools for the Lumads to be built in Mindanao soon

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 18 Aug) – Education Secretary Leonor Briones announced Thursday that 251 new public schools with a total of 605 classrooms will be simultaneously built in different indigenous people (IP) communities in Mindanao, which is the first time for the Philippine government to build such number of Lumad schools “in a single go.”

In her message on the second day of the Social Development Initiatives Summit at the SMX Convention Center Davao, Briones said the agency will partner with Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo for the construction of the new school buildings while the DepEd will provide 583 teachers.

She said that P200 million will be allocated by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to construct the schools within the year to enhance the “devotion and loyalty to the culture.”

The DepEd chief said the Caraga Region gets the most number of schools with 75 and 198 teachers, followed by the Davao Region with 69 schools and 147 teachers, Soccsksargen with 50 schools and 135 teachers, Northern Mindanao with 39 schools and 82 teachers, and Zamboanga Peninsula with 18 schools and 21 teachers.

Briones said that structural designs of the IP (indigenous people) schools will not be based on the standard design of many basic education schools.

“The structure, the designs of the school buildings will be identified by the cultural preference in the different communities. It will not be subjected to the standard designs of the elementary schools because we admire and, as I said yesterday (Wednesday), you are the keepers of our culture, living expressions of our tradition and culture in the country,” she said.

Briones said that she would revive the IP Education office that receives concerns regarding the IP schools, “which was submerged with a very strong attention to the IP education so those who are involved can deal directly with the office of IP Education right in the DepEd.”

“That’s how close the IPs and different tribes – the original Filipinos – to the heart of the President and to the Department of Education,” she said.

She also divulged plans of appointing an assistant secretary for the alternative learning education while at the same time strengthen the Madrasah education.

“The Madrasah was in a way merged with other offices because of the rationalization program in the past administration,” she said.

Butch Rufino, assistant secretary for IP Education, said this is the “biggest effort of the government to build new schools for the Lumads in one go.” (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)