BAGUIO CITY -- Members of the Indigenous Peoples (IP) Council of Elders aiding the Department of Education (DepEd) in the implementation of the national policy framework on IP Education (IPEd) have expressed their gratitude to President Rodrigo Duterte who has remained supportive of the sector since the start of his term.
Engineer Andres Ngao-i, president of the Cordillera Council of Elders, in an exclusive interview on Thursday said, “we are fortunate that the present DepEd Secretary, Leonor Briones supports IPEd unconditionally and we are much more lucky that President Rodrigo Duterte supports the program.”
He said the President recognizes the important contribution of the IPs to the progress of the country and sees to it that they are not left behind.
He cited the formation of the Council of Elders for IPEd which is an off-shoot of Department Order 62 revolutionizing the direction of the DepEd on the national policy framework of the Indigenous Peoples education.
The policy, he said, does not only recognize but necessitates the active involvement and participation of indigenous cultural communities and the IPs from the different Cordillera tribes in the implementation of the program in the region.
“The policy also implements the rights of the IPs for quality education as provided for in the Constitution, the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) and in several United Nations declarations,” he said.
Since its formation, the Council of Elders has organized itself not only in the regional level, but also the division level of the DepEd, allowing the full implementation of the country’s IP Education framework.
The council members also served as consultants and resource persons during enhancement of the program in the local level. As resource persons, the members have served in the contextualization and indigenization of the curriculum in the division level.
They also served as members of the board of advisers during field testing of teachers' indigenized lesson plans, further strengthening the advocacy campaign for IPEd.
The more important task of council members is the validation of learning materials such as books and other materials, making sure that incorrect information is prevented.
Ngao-i explained, “IP education is ancestral domain and culture-based,” which is not confined on learning the songs and dances, not just about the attire- g-string and the 'tapis' but encompasses IP knowledge, systems and practices, values and world views.
“That means that we have to contextualize or indigenize the curriculum making learning materials, books and references coincide with the IP culture,” he added.
Cordillerans, he explained, are closely attached to their culture, lives and land.
He added that culture is not static but dynamic and evolving. It is also not abstract. “Culture revolves around the land and all its resources,” thus the important role of the elders, who pass on a definite, correct culture from their ancestors and not distorted by technology.
Ngao-i also serves as chairman of the Kalinga Bodong Council which implements a culture-based settlement of disputes using the native practice, traditions and systems aside from being one of the Cordillera region’s nominees to the Constitutional Commission, which Duterte may form in in case of a shift to Federalism. (PNA)