PILING up my newspapers, I saw a statement in one of our Davao daily papers which caught my attention. It says, "Sec. Luistro of DepEd to the Lumads: Sorry, please forgive me." This is taken from a fellow writer, Mr. Walter Balane. I read the article intently and my obsession for any educational issues led me to write this critique for my column today.

The secretary of education asking for forgiveness from the lumads is something which I could not understand. This happened during the Summit Conference of IP educators in the Philippines. IP is indigenous peoples. The summit included the youth from the IP groups. The Summit's theme was

"Strengthening Partnership with IP in the 21st Century: An Opportunity to Pursue Culture - Responsive Education”. Sec. Luistro was wrong in saying that the IPs have been neglected. He said that the present educational system caters only to the mainstream of society, leaving the minority at the sidelines. He even does not know that minority is no longer used to refer to tribal peoples. IP is the term used now to emphasize that they are not the lesser group in the Philippine society. We are all Filipinos in one nation. The secretary even said that the focus on the rule of the majority is the problem of the educational system. They have louder voices compared to the other small voices like the IPs. Mr. Secretary, I cannot believe this is coming from you.

I thank you for this. Now, I can fully explain what is wrong with our educational system. I have been an educator since 1947. I have been very observant of the different leadership of the department under the different secretaries. I wrote pamphlets lamenting on the bad effects of change of leadership under the different regimes. There is a saying in Tagalog: "bagonghari; bagongugali". For every change in leadership, there is a change in policy which the teachers have to follow. Believe me when I tell you that no educational policy was brought to fruition or was proven for its effectiveness because new leadership will insist in introducing their own plans. The lowly teachers had to follow, undergo training and discard all their now useless paraphernalia.

This is actually what happened to Sec. Luistro. He is so obsessed with the K- 12 system to the neglect of IPs concern. What puzzles me is this. It seems that the K-12 system is a half- baked program. I observed that not all teachers have been trained to use the new system. There is a lack of printed textbooks and workbooks to be used by the students. There is a lack of study aids to cater to the needs of the new system. There are the yearly unsolved problems of classrooms and qualified teachers. The added years of schooling is adding to the expenses of parents. When I study the curriculum it is geared towards the students' developing for work-oriented goals. I wish they will not forget emphases on values education and character formation and not merely skills training and getting them ready for earning a living. There is even the mandatory demand of the implementation of RH bill. Mr. Secretary these are all your problems.

In connection with the IP existing programs for their effective education I have this in record. I have in my book on Sustainable Development - Every Filipino's Concern a 28 page unit all about the ethnic tribes we call IPs in all aspects of their lives, particularly education. We have about 39 tribes in Mindanao. There had been successful programs in progress now as approved by EOs from former regimes which the present regime does not know. In brief, I will state them here: construction of school buildings for children, adult literacy classes, training in skills as carpentry, sewing, iron works, establishing day care centers, setting up scholarships for bright students, rural health centers, protecting nature and natural domain. These people are Filipinos like us but let us respect them when they want to save their communities, their mode-of- living, their customs and traditions, their costumes, their rituals and their oneness with nature in peace.

Our latest news was the plight of the Lumads from the unrest in Talaingod to seek refuge in Davao City. I know Talaingod. I visited it with my family. We drove up a winding zigzag road to its town hall. Here there were two kids selling us a baby tarsier. I kindly requested the kids to return the baby tarsier to its home in the woods because it will not survive in the city inside a cage. From the gardens I saw a breathtaking scenic panoramic view of the blue ocean and the Davao gulf with the whole Davao city metropolis. In the main road is a concrete bridge leading to Bukidnon.

In Davao City, the Mayor was able to negotiate a peaceful return of the lumads to their home town in Talaingod, Davao Del Norte. For comments text cp no.09202112534.