Lawmakers seek inclusion of indigenous culture in the school curriculum

LAWMAKERS are pushing for the inclusion of indigenous culture in the curriculum of private and public schools in the country.

Reps. Nancy Catamco (2nd District, North Cotabato) and Teddy Brawner-Baguilat (Lone District, Ifugao) filed House Bill 6744 to instill in the minds of school children a deeper understanding of the Filipinos’ roots and origins.

“We have over one hundred ethnic groups all over Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao and collectively, our indigenous peoples have their own distinct cultures, beliefs and traditions which set them apart from mainstream Filipinos and are the source of our nation’s cultural heritage,” Catamco said.

“But as time goes, our knowledge and appreciation of our ancestor’s ethnic, culture and traditions is dissipating. In this age of information and communication technology (ICT), our Filipino youth are knowing less and less of their roots and origins,” Catamco added.

Citing an article of Manila Standard Today entitled, “A Celebration of Filipino Indigenous Culture”, Brawner-Baguilat said the lack of knowledge and appreciation of their indigenous brothers’ cultures and traditions lead to discrimination and marginalization of Filipinos in general.

“The paradox, it is said, is that the more universal we become, the more concerned we are about our cultural identity,” Brawner-Baguilat explained.

The lawmaker said the passage of his bill along with the adoption of the National Indigenous Peoples Education Policy framework or DepEd Order 62 Series of 2011 proper education would eventually eradicate prejudice and discrimination among members of our indigenous cultural communities.

Brawner-Baguilat said the declared policy of the State is to provide appropriate education to its citizens, especially the youth, on Indigenous cultures, traditions, socio-economic and political systems, in line with the commitment to achieve its Education for All (EFA) targets and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and in pursuit of the Basic Education Sector Reform Agenda (BESRA) and National Indigenous Peoples Education Policy Framework of the DepEd.

“The State recognizes the role of the indigenous cultural communities in achieving genuine peace, equality, social justice and democracy in our country,” Brawner-Baguilat said.

The measure mandates the DepEd and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to formulate courses and subjects on indigenous education which shall be included in the school curricula in all levels.

The DepEd and CHED shall coordinate with the National commission on Indigenous Peoples, National Commission for Culture and the Arts, local government units, and other government agencies, and in consultation with various non-governmental organizations, educational institutions, advocacy groups, and organizations of indigenous communities.

“As a means of enriching the learning resources available to IP communities and the educational system at large, documentation and research activities by IPs on their own history, knowledge, practices, and other aspect of cultural heritage shall be encouraged and supported by the DepEd and CHED,” Brawner-Baguilat said.

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