DepEd offers special curriculum for indigenous peoples

A July 11, 2011 press release by the Department of Education

Serious in its mandate to make Education For All (EFA) a reality and inclusive of all learners, the Department of Education offers an alternative learning system curriculum to members of indigenous cultural communities to address their learning needs.

“When we say Education For All, we mean to reach even those in the margins of society who need to be provided with a specially-designed curriculum owing to their unique circumstances,” said Education Secretary Armin Luistro.

Supported by DepEd order No. 101 s. 2010, the Alternative Learning System (ALS) Curriculum for Indigenous Peoples (IPs) Education was developed in coordination with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and validated by IP leaders in IP communities.

“The curriculum was specifically-written to be culture-sensitive with the end-view of helping them   become functionally literate and be net contributors to our society,” Luistro added. The learning competencies of the IP curriculum were drawn from the existing ALS curriculum for the basic literacy, elementary and secondary levels. The curriculum content, however, was based on Indigenous Peoples Act (IPRA) or Republic Act 8371.

The IP curriculum reflects the core areas of the IPs’ day to day concerns, foremost of which is family life. This area touches on the life of an IP as a member of the family and his various roles in relation to the bigger community.  There is also health, nutrition and sanitation which feature indigenous practices, knowledge and local beliefs on hygiene, health and food. It also discusses common ailments and health issues confronting IPs brought about by their geographical locations.

Another area of learning is civic consciousness which is loaded with their aspirations and sentiments as a people including their right to ancestral domain. There is also economics and income which discusses the idea of supply and demand based on their own situation. It also touches on the IPs’ ways of earning a living and caring for their communal source of life and livelihood. The learning area on environment deals with the IPs communion with nature which also stresses their strong tie to the environment.

These learning areas will also help develop the IPs communication skills, problem- solving and critical thinking abilities, development of self and sense of community, practice of ecological and sustainable economics as well as expanding world view.

Luistro said that the curriculum and lesson delivery are written and discussed in the mother tongue of the learners for optimum education outcome. “Many studies have proven that using the language spoken at home in early schooling   results to better comprehension and student performance.”

Related to this, DepEd, with assistance from the Australian government, will make quality education more accessible to indigenous people through the Philippines’ Response to Indigenous Peoples and Muslim Education (PRIME) program, a DepEd initiative to help address the learning needs of school children belonging to the minority groups.

Bankrolled by the Australian Assistance for International Development (AusAid) DepEd is set to  develop learning materials, train teachers and adapt the curriculum to make teaching and learning culturally sensitive and relevant to indigenous and Muslim school children.