DAVAO DEL NORTE (PIA)-Students affected by the temporary closure of 55 schools serving indigenous peoples (IP) don't need to travel far to reach the public schools that will accommodate them because they are within walking distance from the students' houses.
Schools Division Superintendent Josehine Fadul said the schools run by the Department of Education (DepEd) "were created right at the sitios (sub-villages) where they are living and where a STTICLC is situated."
By STTICLC, Fadul was referring to the Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center which failed to obtain permit to operate the schools suspected of teaching subversive ideas to their students.
In her messages sent to the Philippine Information Agency-Davao del Norte, Fadul said DepEd schools in Talaingod town are just within reach of Ata Manobo children and that "DepEd schools are not situated hours away from their villages."
Despite some issues that have been hounding salugpungan schools, the Department of Education has left to parents the decision to which school they prefer to send their children.
"DepEd never ordered for the transfer of salugpungan kids to DepEd schools as this has been a voluntary act of the parents and their kids," Fadul said.
Though far from the town centers, DepEd schools created in sitios of Talaingod have remained committed with government principle and policies on general welfare and free access to education as they "never charge tuition fees," Fadul said.
"Nor DepEd schools have exam fees; nor demand kids to buy new bags and school supplies as they are allowed to use recycled and locally available school supplies," Fadul added.
Fadul said there were non-government organizations (NGO) that had freely given their support to this policy by handing over school supplies and bags to IP school children as part of their outreach activities.
"Even our DepEd teachers provided school supplies and food to their learners out of their own pockets," Fadul said.
For Talaingod alone, DepEd last year opened the Nasilaban Integrated School in Sitio Nasilaban in Barangay Palma Gil; Tibucag Integrated School in Sitio Tibucag, Dagohoy; Kilometer 17 Elementary School, Barangay Dagohoy, and Lomondong Elementary School also in Dagohoy.
DepEd has facilitated the operation of schools in Talaingod whose opening is due for approval in 2020 by "using local means such as local school board teachers, redeploying excess teachers and setting up of makeshift classrooms," Fadul said.
DepEd schools operating in 2019-2020 in Talaingod are Dulyan Integrated School in Sitio Dulyan, Dalingding Elementary School, and Sambulongan Elementary School, all in Barangay Palma Gil, PongPong Elementary School in Dagohoy; and Lambid Elementary School in Barangay Sto. Nino.
DepEd schools that serve IP are the Basak Integrated School in Barangay Sto. Nino and the Central Baugan Integrated School in Barangay Palma Gil, Fadul said. (PIA-11)