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Students of Salugpungan Ta’ Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center recite the Panatang Makabayan in front of the Philippine flag. File photo courtesy of Save Our Schools Network

Rights groups condemn closure of tribal schools

HUMAN rights advocates slammed the decision of the Department of Education-Davao Region to shut down 55 Lumad school upon the recommendation of Education Secretary Leonor Briones and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr based on unfounded allegations that these were seedbeds of insurgency.

In an emailed statement yesterday, the Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (Spark) said the education system in the country is already faulty and suffering in perpetual backlog in order to justify the continued intrusion of the private sector in education.

“Despite its already many criticisms and its maldevelopment, the Deped has reached an all-time low for allowing itself to be a tool for the fascist machinations of the Duterte administration and is consequently denying Lumad children their innate right and access to basic education,” Spark’s statement reads in part.

The group pointed out that instead of treating Salugpungan Ta’ Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Centers as partners in the noble deed of educating the marginalized youth in far-flung communities, Deped has instead been easing them out when they neither have the personnel nor the facilities in the hinterland communities.

“(They are) miserably failing in their mandate despite the increase of allocation from the national budget,” the group pointed out.

For her part, Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general, said the Duterte administration has been consistent in showing its propensity for condemning people and communities on the basis of “lists” and unverified reports.

“Karapatan strongly condemns the DepEd’s shutdown of indigenous people’s schools in Mindanao, based on unfounded claims by Esperon. His accusations are recycled lies by militarist hawks who have derided schools that genuinely catered to members of indigenous communities by being pioneers in developing a curriculum that is truly appropriate and responsive to the needs of the community. We encourage everyone to look at the curriculum and the practice of these schools, that they may see an advanced and apt curriculum design that puts the needs of the community at the core of the indigenous children’s education,” Palabay said.

Palabay maintained that the 55 Lumad schools have adhered to the requirements set by the education department.

“It is unacceptable that they ordered the closure of the education institutions based on unverified claims by Esperon,” said Palabay. (cbc)

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