Private schools serving indigenous peoples honored
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - September 11, 2014 - 3:08pm

MANILA, Philippines — Advocates who run educational institutions for indigenous peoples deserve admiration but this was far from what Ramcy Astoveza got when he started operating such school decades ago.

Astoveza, who runs the Sentrong Paaralan ng mga Agta in Quezon and Aurora, said he and his companions were accused of maintaining a training ground for New People’s Army rebels in the 1970s.

When the Department of Education (DepEd) finally recognized his schools are legitimate learning institutions, Astoveza could not help but shed tears of joy.

"At last, we got the recognition. We have been waiting for this for more than 30 years," the tribe leader said in a statement released by DepEd.

Astoveza’s schools were among the private institutions operating in 49 sites that recently secured a permit from the DepEd. The permit legitimizes the learning institutions, which emphasizes the culture of indigenous people they serve.

The accredited schools offer Kinder to Grade 6 programs and are run by indigenous peoples communities themselves or with the help of charitable institutions.

Education Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro said the recognition of these private schools is in line with the agency’s "continuing thrust in providing inclusive and culture-based education."

"DepEd recognizes the important contribution of indigenous peoples education programs being implemented by non-government and community-led institutions in improving access to culture-based basic education services," the education chief said.

Luistro said opening the doors to schools steeped in indigenous traditions would also allow the DepEd to learn new insights.

"This is a new dawn for the Department, for those who are used to regimented knowledge," he said.

AGTA ARMIN LUISTRO ASTOVEZA EDUCATION EDUCATION SECRETARY BRO NEW PEOPLE QUEZON AND AURORA RAMCY ASTOVEZA SENTRONG PAARALAN WHEN THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
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