Jul 18, 2019

Lumad schools are under attack, according to the The Save Our Schools (SOS) network. On Jul. 17, the children’s rights advocacy network staged a protest at the Department of Education (DepEd) office in Pasig City after 55 lumad schools’ permits were suspended. The schools, operated by Salugpongan Ta’ Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center Inc., were “accused by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. of deviating from DepEd guidelines and spreading supposed antigovernment propaganda.”

“By our count, before Duterte came into power, there were 215 lumad schools operating in Mindanao. Immediately after he declared martial law and threatened to bomb the schools, the violations have spiked,” said SOS lead convener Eule Bonganay. Because of the suspension of permits and military violations, more than 80 lumad schools have had to close. The military’s “encroachment of indigenous communities” included “destroying, burning and vandalizing facilities,” the SOS network alleged.

At the protest, the network called on the United Nations to take on this case and investigate the school shut downs in Mindanao as a violation of indigenous peoples’ rights. “Indigenous peoples’ rights are human rights. Education is a human right,” said Bonganay, adding that the shut down amounted to disenfranchisement. DepEd ordered to transfer the lumad school students to nearby public schools, even though the lumad schools were set up in the first place because public schools were typically set up too far away from lumad communities.

“It would take hours for a lumad child, walking under the scorching sun, and crossing rivers and mountains, to [reach school],” said Bonganay.

 

Featured photo courtesy of Inquirer.net

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