Indigenous elders play a key role in the education of learners in their communities in Central Luzon amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
Since online teaching is not an option in the remote areas where most of the indigenous peoples (IPs) are living due to lack of signal and internet connections, their elders serve as the partner of the Department of Education (DepEd) in addressing the distance learning barrier.
Michelle Lacson, regional information officer of the DepEd-Central Luzon said on October 23, 2020, IP elders underwent online training on Indigenous Peoples Education (IPED) learning materials development based on IP alphabet primers to equip them with the necessary knowledge on how to guide and mentor their children on their studies.
“Malayo man sa kabihasnan ang mga katutubo sa Central Luzon, hindi ito hadlang upang ang kanilang pagaaral ngayon panahon ng pandemic ay maipagpatuloy. Limitado man ang kanilang physical interaction sa kanilang mga guro, bilang ibayong pag-iingat laban sa Covid-19, ang nagsisilbing gabay at tagapagturo ay ang kanilang mga IP elders (Even though the indigenous people of Central Luzon are far from civilization, this does not prevent them from continuing their education during the pandemic. Although their physical interaction with their teachers is limited, as a defense against Covid-19, the IP elders serve as their guide and mentor),” Lacson said in DepEd regional updates in its official social media account.
Arnold Montemayor, the regional focal person for IPED, said a consultative advisory body was also formed with the participation of the IP leaders for the curriculum contextualization required by IPED.
“Sila (referring to IP leaders) ang katuwang natin lalo na sa usapin ng contextualization. Meron na rin orthographies, alphabet primers, storybooks, and indigenous IP lesson plan na siyang magagamit sa pagtuturo ng IPEd sa region (They (referring to IP leaders) are our partners especially in the matter of contextualization. There are also orthographies, alphabet primers, storybooks, and indigenous IP lesson plans that can be used to teach IPED in the region),” Montemayor said.
He also said Central Luzon is one of the first regions in the country that developed nine IP languages.
DepEd-Central Luzon, in consultation with the indigenous cultural communities, has prioritized the development of orthographies and alphabet primers in nine IP languages. These include Ayta Magbukun, Ayta Ambala, Ayta Mag-indi, Ayta Mag-antsi, Ayta Abellen, Sambal Botolan, Agta Casiguran, Dumagét Bulos, and Dumagét Kabulloan.
“Ito ay malaking tulong, lalo na sa kasalakuyan nating situation. Magiging batayan, lalo na Mother-Tongue Based Multi-Lingual Education (MTB-MLE). Yung alphabet primer, ito ang magagamit mismong ng mga teachers or elders na magtuturo sa mga IP communities, lalo na sa pagbabasa sa kanilang mismong language (This is a big help, especially in our current situation. It will be the basis, especially the Mother-Tongue-Based Multi-Lingual Education (MTB-MLE). The alphabet primer, this is what that teachers or elders can use to teach IP communities, especially in reading on their own language), Montemayor added.
As of the school year 2020-2021, the total enrollment of IPED learners in the region is 10,745 wherein there are 5,373 males and 5,372 females in 89 IPED implementing schools in the region. (Zorayda Tecson, PNA)