Lidasan: Inclusive history curriculum

LEARNING about the past can be a good way to address historical injustice and grievances of a group of people or nation. This was one of the objectives of the activity that we in Al Qalam Institute for Islamic Identities and Dialogue in Southeast Asia held with forumZFD last August 8 and 9, 2018.

The activity was entitled, “Conversation on Mindanaoan History and its integration in the Philippine Education System.” The said event “brought together representatives of academe, civil society, and government institutions who have taken up the challenge to implement Government Republic Act No. 10908 mandating the integration of Filipino-Muslim and Indigenous Peoples history, culture and identity in Philippine History teachings in basic and higher education”.

The different research works conducted by Al Qalam in understanding the drivers of youth radicalization -- drivers that could lead to violent extremism --shows that there is a gap of having an inclusive historic discourse that recognizes the diversity of histories, identities and memories of the people in Mindanao.

This gap leads to a conflict of peoples’ view of the past, which then affects the sense of belonging and cohesion of the Bangsamoro vis-a-vis the Filipino nation.

Discussing Philippine history in schools and universities have always been focused on the narratives of the people from Luzon and Visayas. These narratives tell the stories of the Katipuneros struggle against the Spaniards and how Christianity was brought to our lands. It does not include the history of Islam and Muslims in Mindanao.

Bro. Karl Gaspar, one of the lead discussants in the event, said, “The richness of our cultures before the conquest period is not documented in depth. And it is this richness where the lived experience of indigenous people in Mindanao is at the center, and links to the need of recognizing our current impact on the environment.”

Providing an inclusive history of the peoples in our country can be an effective tool for conflict prevention. When our own local histories are not taught to our children, they end up losing touch with their own roots. This also excludes them from the national narrative, leading them to feel “left out” of their own land. This sense of isolation is a breeding ground for violent extremism.

Our work also showed that the key to preventing radicalization and violent extremism is understanding the root causes and the issues which drive young people towards negative, radical, extremist behavior.

We have also identified weak spots within Mindanao, namely: societal fragmentation within ethnic groups, a lack of opportunities for young people in terms of employment and sustainable economic activities, religious discrimination (inter and intra-relations), and their view that they are victims of injustice.

This is why it is vital to the development of Mindanao to include our own histories in the national curriculum. This way, the youth will not be ignorant of their own rich heritage and culture. We end up gaining a sense of pride and responsibility in our past, which then helps guide us towards our present realities. It allows us to foster dialogue and partnerships with others, which contributes to nation-building.


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