BY VIRTUE of Presidential Proclamation 1996 signed in 2009, October of every year is declared as National Indigenous Peoples' Month.
The theme for the month long celebration is "Vital Wisdoms: Learning with the indigenous Peoples," which focuses on the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) grouped into five domains by Unesco that include oral traditions and expressions; performing arts; social practices, rituals and festive events; knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe; and traditional craftsmanship.
According to the National Commission for Culture and Arts, this theme encourages the "social relational process" amidst the diversity of the different IP context and realities.
In recognition of the right of indigenous peoples to culturally rooted and responsive basic education, the Department of Education (DepEd) adopted the Indigenous Peoples Education Curriculum Framework (DepEd Order 32, s. 2015) which aims to provide guidance to schools and other education programs as they engage with indigenous communities in contextualizing the K to 12 Curriculum based on their respective educational and social contexts.
The said framework is a fruit of a series of consultations with community elders, leaders and implementers of community-based Indigenous Peoples Education (IPEd) initiatives. As a major milestone in the enhancement of the IPEd Program, it will benefit more than 1.19-million IP learners enrolled in public schools, as well learners enrolled in community and civil society organization-run schools. In line with this, DepEd has started a training program for teachers and school heads in schools serving indigenous communities.
The design of a culturally-appropriate and responsive curriculum is anchored on the defining features of indigenous communities: the ancestral domain, the community's worldview, and its indigenous cultural institutions. It includes and respects the community's expression of spirituality and strengthens indigenous cultural identity. DepEd values indigenous languages in the implementation of a Mother Tongue-based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE) among indigenous learners in order to regenerate and enrich the community's Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices (IKSPs) and Indigenous Learning Systems (ILS). The curriculum is designed to enable indigenous learners to be future culture-bearers, capable of exercising their right to self-determination as they interact with other cultures.
The curriculum is open to the community's teaching-learning processes complementing with that developed by DepEd. The commitment of culture bearers and IKSP holders to serve as knowledge managers in the teaching-learning process is recognized and their participation as appropriate is encouraged. DepEd recognizes that the ancestral domain where IKSPs are experienced, lived, and learned is the primary learning environment and learning space for indigenous learners. Community's guidance shall be sought in designing learning activities involving places in the ancestral domain to maintain the wellbeing and sacredness of the area.
The IPEd curriculum framework is guided by the principles of inclusion, participation, and empowerment as provided by DepEd's National IPEd Policy Framework (DepEd Order 62, s. 2011 or "DO62") and is consistent with the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (Ipra) of 1997 and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) which specify the right of IPs to "establish and control their educational systems and institutions".
The meaningful participation of indigenous communities in the indigenization of the national curriculum shall be institutionalized through community engagement processes, mechanisms and activities mutually entered into by DepEd and the communities.