April 21, 2024


The latest gaffe involving learning materials used under the modular learning setup for the current school year must serve as an ultimate call not only for the Department of Education but also to all concerned government agencies and sectors of the community to put its acts together in ensuring the younger generation of Filipinos acquire knowledge through quality instruction.
Erroneous information that keep finding its way to the pages of educational materials and references fed to students – this time discriminating and wrongfully depicting the Igorots in learning modules circulated in another region – have pushed the country’s quality of education several levels back, instead of moving a step forward to the level of excellence in education the national government aims for its citizens to become a great nation.
It is unfortunate. After acing countless trials and winning hard battles to come out from the caves of ignorance to reach the current digital era, stains of discrimination and lack of respect and culture sensitivity remain deeply rooted in our society as shown by the offensive and racially-charged information against the Igorots of the Cordillera in the printed module prepared by Dr. Felicidad Remo and Avelina Espelita and published by St. Matthews Publishing Corp.
Imagine citing to students the hypothe-tical scenarios, “Nakita mong tinutukso ng kaklase mo ang isang batang Igorot dahil sa kanyang anyo,” and “Hindi ako makikipaglaro sa aking kaklasi na Igorot dahil iba ang kanyang pananamit,” which these two authors actually wrote in their disputed module.
Did they really think they should be excused since they wrote it in good faith and meant no harm to the Igorots? As experts, shouldn’t they know better and be the most reliable in framing situations for better understanding? How could they have arrived at such perception if they did their research?
Hypothetical or not, it is plain derogatory, even to non-Igorots and to all indigenous peoples.
We should not forget these are self-learning modules. With limited guidance, most often the young learners would try to understand and form their own impressions of the things they read in the module, and if their guardians are not prompt enough, our children would be standing on a flawed foundation. We should not be surprised if we are having a generation of bullies now.
In their true form, Igorots, notably those who excelled in various fields and brought pride for the country started the #IAmProudtobeIgorotChallenge movement as a silent and dignified protest to the incident instead of fighting back with bashing – far from how they were also depicted in previous textbooks. We also expect them to accept the apology and explanations by the DepEd with grace. But it should not end there. It must work hard to eliminate prejudice, and level up the competence of personnel responsible in educating our children.
We support the call of the Cordillera lawmakers demanding for a thorough review of the learning materials and immediate correction of its inaccurate and derogatory contents about Igorots to stop the discrimination and erroneous depiction not only of IPs of the Cordillera but of all indigenous groups in the country. The Benguet provincial board also pointed out that DepEd should be culture sensitive in the preparation of learning modules.
This latest case of discrimination in terms of color and other physical traits and ethnic classification proves it still exists in many aspects of human dealings; more alarming is the fact those whom we expect to guide the future generation are among those who lack awareness.
We need to ensure we plant the right seeds of wisdom in the minds of the young ones through sustained active involvement of parents and communities and putting in charge competent educators, not only in the issue of discrimination but in all aspects of raising an upright citizen. Otherwise, the culture of narrow-mindedness, misconceptions, and insensitivity will continue.
We challenge the DepEd to walk the talk when it said, “Discrimination should not have a place in our society. Our journey to ensure that our education promotes equality and respect for each other still has a long way to go and the department is committed to do its part to eliminate discriminatory practices in schools and offices.”