The Department of Education has expanded its basic education access to more than 100,000 Indigenous Peoples and Muslim learners from nine regions in the country through the Philippines’ Response to Indigenous Peoples’ and Muslim Education (PRIME) program.
According to Education Secretary Br. Armin Luistro FSC said that the department is committed in its thrust to make education universal and inclusive for all learners.
“This is part of our commitment to achieve the Education for All (EFA) 2015 targets and the Millennium Development Goals set by the United Nations. In pursuing this, it is DepEd’s duty to ensure that the most disadvantaged and marginalized are given particular attention,” Luistro said.
Funded by the Australian government, PRIME is a 6.7M AUD grant facility that focused on the specific needs of Muslim and Indigenous communities and helped in the development of learning materials, a culturally sensitive curriculum and training of teachers.
“Australia is our biggest partner in education. Through PRIME, we were able to provide inclusive and culture-based education for our indigenous and Muslim learners. We were able to reach far-flung areas and engage different communities by addressing education needs through an inclusive approach,” Luistro added.
PRIME was implemented in 725 public elementary schools in nine (9) regions in the country. Since its launch in 2011, PRIME has provided access to education to more than 75,000 IP learners, and more than 31,000 Muslim learners.
Culture-based and inclusive education
“Throughout PRIME, we made sure that our stakeholders’ participation was taken into account and are actively involved in the decision making process, so they would be able to make it more conducive for their different cultures,” Dina Ocampo, Undersecretary for Programs and Projects, said.
More than 140 schools and 11 community proponents developed indigenized learning materials. Working closely with schools and communities, DepEd was able to develop orthographies in Luzon and Mindanao—five (5) in Luzon, namely Bago, Ibaloi, Kankanaey, Iwak, and Tagbanua; and 14 in Mindanao, namely Sangir, Bagobo-Tagabawa, Bagobo-Klata, Ata-Manobo, Obo-Manobo, Tagakaolo, Mansaka, Mandaya, Mangguangan, Dibabawon, Matigsalog, Sama, Blaan, and T’bloi.
“Schools and communities came to fore in the use of mother languages in the PRIME communities that adapted the working orthographies,” said Ocampo. She added that the program was able to address issues on dropouts, absenteeism, and poor participation among indigenous and Muslim learners.
The grant projects under PRIME served more than 90% of students in the areas it covered. In Cabigaan Elementary School in Puerto Princesa, a zero drop-out rate has been recorded among the 372 pupils enrolled in SY 2013-2014. There was also increased class participation through recitation during classroom discussions and participation of Tagbanua parents during school meetings.
Meanwhile, a zero drop-out rate was also recorded in Sagpangan Elementary School in Puerto Princesa where 294 students remained enrolled until the end of the year. The students in Sagpangan also improved their proficiency in reading and increased their participation both in academic and co-curricular activities.
“Mayroon nang nakakaunawa at nakakaintindi ng halaga ng katutubong edukasyon. Salamat sa pagkakataon na ibinigay ng programang PRIME,” Antonio Orosa Jr., head of Paaralang Mangyan para sa Kulturang Aalagaan (PAMANA Ka), said. He said that the program aided in bridging the gaps in indigenous peoples education.