DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The closure of another Lumad school in Davao Region prompted a Lumad leader in Congress to question the Department of Education if they are acting on the interests of the Lumad children who are now denied of another community school.
Eufemia Cullamat, Bayan Muna Representative who comes from the Manobo tribe in Surigao, denounced the DepEd’s decision to close down the Community Technical College of Southeastern Mindanao (CTCSM) in Maco, Davao de Oro, which had a student population of 350 from elementary to senior high.
DepEd Region 11 ordered the non-renewal of permit and closure of CTCSM last May 21, citing the latter’s “incomplete submissions of documentary requirements and deficiencies in implementation of the K-12 curriculum”.
While the CTCSM is appealing the decision, citing that the deadline of submission of requirements was supposedly on June 19, Cullamat said closing the school was a “heartless decision” by DepEd.
“I condemn this heartless decision by DepEd Region 11 and by DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones, who pushed for the closure of CTCSM without basis,” said Cullamat in her statement.
“I challenge Briones to fulfill her role as secretary of education. It’s been very difficult to be in this situation with Covid-19, yet they are closing down Lumad schools. It is difficult for families to send their children to schools that are not accustomed to the (Lumad) culture,” the Lumad solon said.
She said the DepEd’s alternative to transfer the students to public schools will be a burden as Lumad families don’t have the financial means to send them to other schools.
CTCSM is also a boarding for the Lumad students who come various towns in Davao de Oro and other provinces nearby, with transportation arranged to bring the students to and from their hometowns.
“[Lumad] schools were built within the communities to ease the families in the expenses and needs of students,” Cullamat explained.
“It is clear that [DepEd] violated the right of these Lumad children to free education,” Cullamat said.
Last year, DepEd also did not renew and closed down the Lumad school Salugpongan Community Learning Center, citing almost the same technical reasons. But the school also exposed that the decision was influenced by the government’s anti-communist task force that red-tagged the school. (davaotoday.com)