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[Y-SPACE] The Plight of the Lumad Children in Inclusion and Education

Updated: Aug 18, 2021

by Jenna Marie Lopez

Our Lumad brothers and sisters have been fighting a life-long battle for their rights. Education, which is considered a basic right, is something that the Lumad children are deprived and repressed of.

It is not new for the Lumad community to be victims of continuous oppression and attacks. The capitalist state has used the military to harass and drive the Lumads out of their ancestral lands to exploit and gain profit from multinational corporations and foreign investors. As a result, Lumads lose their homes and source of income which strips out the Lumad children from their education.

The education of the indigenous people is no different than ours. It teaches them basic knowledge of various subjects. However, their education answers their needs. It focuses on Agriculture which teaches them how to survive and maintain their Ancestral domains and root of life. When we deny the Lumads out of their education, we also deny them of their future.

In 2019, the Department of Education, as per the instructions of the Philippine government, shut down more than 50 lumad schools in Davao. From the perspective of President Duterte, he claimed that Lumad schools do not teach the education needed by the children, but rather teach them how to rebel against the government. Series of red-tagging and harassment had been committed by the Duterte administration, an evident attempt of the government to red tag and force Lumads to flee from their land.

As victims of displacement from their own homes, the Lumad community is forced to adapt and live in a different environment. To continue their education, bakwit are established for the children. The bakwit, which can be found on the campuses of the University of the Philippines, became a temporary shelter and foundation of education for them. Usually, these are led by NGOs and other alliances.

Despite the establishment of bakwit, the never-ending militarization and attacks on Lumads cannot be ignored. The unending harassment of the Duterte administration on the indigenous people of the Philippines shall be ceased. This issue is not simply about their ancestral lands but a harbor of life for the Lumad community.

Under Section 30 of the Republic Act No. 8371, “The State shall provide equal access to various cultural opportunities to the ICCs/IPs through the educational system, public or private cultural entities, scholarships, grants and other incentives without prejudice to their right to establish and control their educational system…” This highlights that every child from the indigenous community has the right to access any form of education and it’s the State’s responsibility to provide for that. However, this right of the Indigenous People, and the whole law itself seems to be neglected by the current government.

The continuous violence and rise of populism under the Duterte Administration caused harm to our culture and the indigenous people. Their never-ending protest to protect their land, education and their fight for representation should never be at the expense of their lives. By contrast, the state should protect the Lumads from capitalist interests and the government should be the one leading in protecting the indigenous community and our culture.

One might ask, why should we protect and defend the Lumad schools? Why not? Apart from them representing the vast history and culture of our country, it is their right to be protected by the state. The struggle of Lumads is a struggle of the nation. When it is the government that leads to crushing the rights of the IPs, it is the masses who will fight back and represent them.

JM Lopez is a 3rd year Political Science student in Colegio de San Juan de Letran. She is currently the Minister for Socio-Political Affairs of The Letran Politicvs, an organization for Political Science students in Letran.

YSPACE is a platform open for young writers to contribute their worth-sharing thoughts and stories to the world. It is a space for young people and by the young people which aims to promote a strong sense of empowerment and inspiration to young Filipinos.

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