WE CELEBRATE World Teachers’ Day on October 5 and Tribal Filipino Sunday on the 13th. But a Lumad school, the Salugpungan Community Learning Center, is shut down by the Department of Education, closing 54 community schools that will displace more than a thousand students and dozens of teachers.
The basis of the closure order were the following: the National Security Adviser’s complaint that the school was training students to use firearms and “teaching ideologies advocating against government”. Students do not have learning reference numbers, teachers are not complying with the curriculum for the Indigenous People’s Education Framework (IPED) and some teachers are not licensed to teach.
Are these enough ground for the closure of the schools? Deped said they had done their fact-finding, with a nearly 300-page report that include minutes of peace and order council meetings, letters between the Salugpungan and Deped, interviews with military and some Salugpungan teachers.
But according to Save Our Schools Network, the fact finding team did not set foot on any one of the 54 Salugpungan Schools in Talaingod or in other parts of Davao Region.
“They only set foot on Nasilaban, Talaingod but did not proceed to the schools. Basically, there’s no investigation that took place,” Save Our Schools spokesperson Rius Valle said.
The administration of Salugpungan School, in a statement, further questioned why Deped raised those lapses only now when they had operated for 12 years.
“What of the 12 years that we have been working as partners of the DepEd in the execution of the IPED? What of the requirements, including the learning reference numbers, grades, curriculum, promotional reports that we have dutifully submitted to the Deped? What of the moving-up and graduation ceremonies, from kindergarten to high school that the Deped had approved in the past years?” asked Salugpungan school executive director Eugenia Nolasco.
Nolasco is astonished how these achievements become irrelevant for Deped. “(It) indicates that hearsay and red-tagging are more important than facts.”
There’s another fact that we can look at the online news Davao Today in their timeline of “birth and attack on Salugpungan schools”.
Sometime ago in 2014, Deped Davao del Norte even defended the Salugpungan schools, calling out the military to stop militarizing the schools.
Now, Deped is the one affirming and even justifying the military’s claims that the schools are not worthy to continue. What irony. As Nolasco said, “It is astonishing that Deped, an institution that should be upholding education, is colluding with the military to close our schools and further disenfranchise Lumad communities of their right to education and self-determination. And for what? So that the Lumad’s ancestral lands can be gutted to make way for selfish interests.”
The bigger irony here is that government is running things in reverse by destroying what is supposed to make us strong as a nation.