By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Manila Standard Today
In addition to being caught between clashing forces in remote areas, nine out of 10 indigenous children have no access to education and such inadequacy should immediately be addressed by the next administration, said vice presidential candidate Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
“Our indigenous peoples are living in the hinterlands where there are no elementary or secondary schools. Their children find it very difficult to go to the schools as they have to walk hours every day just to get to the nearest school,” he said, citing a study conducted by the Save Our Schools Network.
“In addition to distance, some schools located in remote areas are prone to attacks and fighting between and among government forces, rebel groups and lawless elements. These attacks undermine the basic right of our children to education,” said Marcos.
Marcos has always been passionate about youth empowerment. The first law that he enacted when he was neophyte Congressman in 1992 was the Act that established the Philippine Youth Commission. He also filed several bills in the Senate to strengthen the educational system and the teaching profession.
“To address such demographical and geographical concerns, alternative ways should be pursued and strengthened in order to help these children to the education that they deserve,” Marcos stated.
Marcos recommended that the Alternative Learning System is a viable option.
“I understand that the Department of Education has been implementing this for several years and I think that it should be strengthened so that it would cover more communities, including those located remotely far from town centers,” Marcos stressed.
He cited the Instructional Management by Parents, Communities and Teachers as a sound alternative to traditional education for children in remote areas because it involves the whole community in the education of the young children.
“Under Impact, learning materials provided by the DepEd are given to children under the guidance of their parents and community leaders. Older school children such as those in grade six are also encouraged to teach their younger peers lessons based on the learning materials,” Marcos explained.
“We need to think out of the box in addressing the various obstacles were are facing when it comes to providing education to our children, especially those belonging to the indigenous communities and remote areas. We need the involvement of everyone in the community to ensure that they don’t get left out.”
Marcos concluded that expanding free education to areas where accessibility is a big challenge will be one of his top priorities if he is elected vice president.