DepEd defends Lumad school in Talaingod

Oct. 24, 2009

Davao Today

TALAINGOD, DAVAO DEL NORTE ( � Contrary to the soldiers� claim, the school for Lumads in Talaingod has been operating in the last three years with a permit from the Department of Education (DepEd).

�We were the ones who opened the school together with two municipal councilors of Talaingod,� Tito Benegian, division private school supervisor and Indigenous People coordinator, told Davao Today.

He said the school has been granted the DepEd permit no. 057 S.2008 and Securities and Exchange Commission registration no. 200729402 in 2007. Benegian also sent Davao Today a soft copy of the school�s application for the renewal of their permit for the next two years. salugpungan1

Another classroom will accommodate a grade four class as soon as this skeletal structure is finished.( photo)

Soldiers belonging to the 60th Infantry Battallion arrived in mid-August in sitio Dulyan in barangay Santo Nino of Talaingod, tagging the school as �fake� and the teachers and a nurse, as �Communists�.

Lt. Dennis Ayungo, the team leader, called a villagers� meeting where he told the villagers that the school has no grading cards and is not recognized by the government. At the same time, the soldiers promised to put up a new school, build roads, water system to service sitio Dulyan. salugpungan2

One of the classrooms of the Salugpongan Ta Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center.( photo)

But Benegian said the school is one of the few DepEd-recognized schools using the IP curriculum. �Dulyan is a Lumad area so the Lumad culture is integrated within the curriculum,� he said.

The soldiers questioned why children were asked to plant and maintain gardens in the school; saying that the vegetables and crops might have been produced to support NPA guerrillas.

Benegian said there must have been a �communication gap� between the military and the school�s administrator.

The Ata-Manobos of Talaingod were celebrating the Bwalawan �thanksgiving festival� in September, thankful not only for the year�s good harvest, but also for the school they set up three years ago. The school now accommodates 92 children from grade one to three. People in sitio Dulyan were already looking forward to the opening of the fourth grade next year.

Benegian said the soldiers might have been surprised to find a school in a remote place like Dulyan.

He also said the military should not stay within the school premises.

�If there’s an encounter, the children will be affected,� he said, �The children will think that there�s a war because of their presence.�

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