Probing Indigenous Peoples’ Rights to Education
LEAH E. ABAYAO
The Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act’s (IPRA) strong policy formulation for Indigenous Peoples’ Rights to Education had mandated the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to undertake projects like Indigenous Peoples Education (IPE), Assistance to Community Schools, and the Educational Assistance Program (EAP). The NCIP, in turn, had collaborated with the Department of Education (Dep-Ed) toward the formulation of an Indigenous Peoples’ Core Curriculum. While the curriculum was envisioned to help IPs achieve their individual and collective rights, a review of its contents shows curricular hitches and complications, since the curriculum was developed under the rubric of the Philippine educational system where learning strands and competencies are structured to deliver a goal of national functional literacy. The curriculum is an indigenized version of the Basic Education Curriculum. However, its design is not founded on an indigenous learning system or structure, delivering mixed messages under a structured development goal. As it is, it also employs a problematic construction of indigenous knowledge systems where it envisions the indigenous as ‘historical present’ and not in terms of its contemporaneity and relevance. While the conceptual framework is strong, the indigenized content of the curriculum is weak in the delivery of this goal. If the desired outcomes will be for a change to address the needs of indigenous peoples, a new curricular infrastructure must be designed that supports effective indigenous learning environments.
Keywords: indigenous peoples education, basic education curriculum, indigenous rights, Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act, Philippine educational system.
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