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) are thankful to leadership of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte who has announced his support to the sector since the start of his term.
Engineer Andres Ngao-i, president of the Cordillera Council of Elders in an exclusive interview 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 that the President has spelled-out the importance of recognizing the important role of the IPs in the progress of the country as he sees to it that the IPs are not left behind.
He mentioned of 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.
Ngao-i said that the policy does not only recognize but necessitates the active involvement and participation of the 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.”
Since its formation, he said, the council of elders has organized themselves not only in the regional level, but the division level of the DepEd, allowing the full implementation of the country’s IP Education framework.
They 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.
The council members also served as panel and board of advisers during field testing of teachers indigenized lesson plans further strengthening the advocacy campaign for IPEd.
More important task of the council members is the validation of learning materials such as books and other materials, making sure that incorrect information are prevented.
Ngao-i explained, “IP education is ancestral domain and culture-base,” 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 worldviews. “That means that we have to contextualize or indigenize the curriculum making learning materials, books and references coincide with the IP culture.”
Cordillerans, he explained, are closely attached to the culture, and it attaches to the lives and the land of the locals.
He also said 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 passes on a definite, correct culture from their ancestors and not distorted by technology not the changing times.
Ngao-i also serves as chairman of the Kalinga Bodong council which implements a culture-base 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 President Duterte may form in the quest to shift the country’s system to Federalism. LIZA T. AGOOT / ABN
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