Educators’ Forum for Development

Photo from GMA News

A network of teachers for transformative education said that the signing of the free tuition bill into law is a welcome major first step in realizing education as a right and should be ensured by government  as a priority. Improving and expanding the public university system is however as important, said the group, as is developing a nationalist, scientific and mass-oriented curriculum.

The Educators Forum for Development (EFD) said that President Rodrigo Duterte’s signing of Republic Act 10931 or “Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act” is a positive and significant start towards achieving every Filipino’s right to education. The law grants full tuition subsidy for students in State and local universities and colleges as well as state-run technical-vocational schools.

The EFD underscored however that to genuinely ensure education for all and facilitate the schooling of millions of out-of-school youth, government is further challenged to improve the quality of education and increase the number and capacity of public higher education institutions. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) 2016 Annual  Poverty Indicators Survey (APIS), there are almost four million out-of-school children and youth, of which 87% are aged 16-24 or of tertiary education age. As of 2014, a total of 675 government higher education institutions including sattelite campuses nationwide were outnumbered by 2,374 private higher education institutions.

The group also said that improving and expanding the public university system is the best defense against the privatization of education, which commodifies a basic right and marginalizes no and low-income families. It can also help guard against  the unnecessary flow into private profits of people’s money, which should otherwise be allocated precisely to strengthening the public university system. EFD said that strengthening the public university system means increasing teachers’ capacities, employing quality teachers’ materials, publications and teaching methods, and ensuring adequate budget for free tertiary education in SUCs.

EFD said that lastly, but most essential, is the development of a progressive, patriotic and pro-people curriculum. This is contrary to the K-12 framework that aims to build an army of cheap labor for the global market, and instead will harness the Filipino youth’s full potential to become the country’s nation builders. ###
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The Educators Forum for Development is a network of teachers advocating transformative education.

Photo by Jen Guste/ IBON Foundation 2017

 

We, members of the Educators’ Forum for Development, are alarmed at Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s order to “bomb Lumad schools”. The administration also staunchly defends the extension of Martial Lawin Mindanao which has further disrupted Lumad schools. The safety of the Lumad schoolchildren will only be secured with the immediate withdrawal of the military from community schools and an end to aerial bombardments in the entire island.

The Lumad of Mindanao have overcome the absence of educational facilities in their communities by setting up hundreds of schools with the help of charitable institutions, devoted educators, and missionaries.. Contrary to the President’s misinformed description that they operate illegally, most of these schools have earned official recognition by the Department of Education, while the rest continue to hurdle towards getting the official stamp.

Through volunteers and licensed teachers, some of whom hail from the country’s premiere universities, Lumad schools teach not only Science, Math, English, Filipino and Social Studies, but Culture and Agriculture. They aim to mold Filipino citizens who are not only knowledgeable but also socially conscious and responsible, and who value their indigenous heritage and harness their agricultural empowerment towards nation building.

The government’s militarism is undermining these initiatives . Even prior to the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao, Lumad teachers and students have been victimized by counter-insurgency campaigns. They are vilified, forced to evacuate their communities, and their school authorities and community leaders are extrajudicially killed. Since the declaration of Martial Law, government has closed 20 Lumad schools, while instances of military occupation, killings, threats, harassment and intimidation, destruction of property, indiscriminate firing, filing of trumped-up charges, enforced disappearances, and torture have heightened. Last week, three Lumad school teachers who were among the protesters during Congress’ joint session on the extension of Martial Law were illegally detained.

The government has the responsibility to uphold, protect and promote the right to education, particularly of underserved sectors such as indigenous children. We call on the President to order his troops to vacate and stop aiming their guns and bombs at community schools and premises. Ending the militarization of Lumad communities is an immediate doable step that the Duterte government can take to help indigenous groups in Mindanao reclaim their lives and continue their learning.

We also join calls for an end to martial law in Mindanao that has already displaced and disrupted the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands.

 

Ninia Dela Cruz

Secretary General

Educators Forum for Development

 

Educators Forum for Development is a network of educators committed to transformative education.

From Planet Philippines

Transformative education advocates belonging to the Educators Forum for Development (EFD) expressed concern about the Department of Education’s (DepEd) latest Contemporary Issues curriculum revision. The measure effectively removes topics pertinent to students’ grasp of and attitude towards issues that have been afflicting Philippine society until now, the group said.

The DepEd released an April 21, 2017 revised curriculum draft in Araling Panlipunan Grade 10, in which the lessons were rearranged from the previous May 2016 curriculum guide. Deleted were the following topics: political dynasties, graft and corruption and territorial conflicts (i.e. South China Sea/West Philippine Sea issue).

The teachers’ network said that the Contemporary Issues subject is expected to build on basic education principles in which Filipino students are molded into socially-aware and responsible young citizens and members of their families and communities.

But the latest revision, said EFD, ignores how Philippine economics and politics are affected today by non-democratic and unjust practices that only a democratically active citizenry can address. The group remembered how the Marcos dictatorship in which political dynasties and graft and corruption thrived was toppled by a conscientized people’s concerted action.

The deleted topics could otherwise be building blocks in the consciousness of the young for them to not allow a repeat of Filipinos’ collective suffering under the Marcos regime. Discussing the prevailing dominance of a few clans in running the affairs of the country down to the barangays, for instance, especially with a localized K-to-12, is crucial in inculcating the value of good governance and genuine people’s representation. So is familiarity with patronage politics and government officials’ practice of stealing from the nation’s coffers or keeping the pork barrel, which has suffered public services especially education, health and housing, and narrowed resources that the people should directly benefit from.

Meanwhile, Philippine experience with regard to territorial dispute specifically concerning China has brought the nation to contemplate on matters of resource grabbing, international protocols, geopolitics and ultimately self-determination.

The EFD stressed that it is within the role of education to raise the youth’s awareness of issues like these rather than make them oblivious to such as could be a result of the curriculum revision. Education should be able to create a nation’s active champions of democracy and sovereignty, not of ignorance, passivity and submission. Only the few perpetrators and beneficiaries of political dynasties, graft and corruption and territorial conflicts stand to benefit from the curriculum change, said the group.

The EFD has long criticized the K-to-12 curriculum as aggressively shaping Philippine education to fit the demands of globalization. The group said that by not exposing social realities and exploring related alternatives, the Philippine educational system distances teachers and learners from helping in social transformation and becoming harbingers of genuine economic development and good governance.

The network urged fellow educators to remain vigilant in addressing the impact of curriculum changes, and step up efforts to highlight nationalist and pro-people content in teaching Social Studies and other subjects.

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In the aftermath of the Fourth Mindanao-Wide Conference of the Save our Schools (SOS) Network, transformative education group Educators Forum for Development (EfD) said that the Duterte administration should stop continuing attacks against indigenous people (IP)’s alternative schools. The EfD echoed calls by the SOS Network for military troops to halt operations in and pull out of indigenous peoples and farmers’ communities as these result in human rights violations including the right to education.

According to a report released by the SOS Campaign of the Lumad in Southern Mindanao, Caraga, Northern Mindanao and Soccsksargen, there have been 168 incidents of military attacks on 47 Lumad schools under the Aquino government’s Oplan Bayanihan and the Duterte administration’s Oplan Kapayapaan. More than 1,000 families and 5,000 students have been victims of forced evacuation, threat, harassment, intimidation, red-tagging, and surveillance. There have also been cases of extrajudicial killings, filing of trumped-up charges, and schools closure.

These have been perpetrated by 16 battalions and 2 brigades of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) with paramilitary troops and even some government agencies. More than half of total AFP troops are deployed in Mindanao, the report noted. State and paramilitary forces are known to secure big business and landlords interests over the resource-rich island.

To date, SOS has recorded 15 cases of military encampment affecting five Lumad schools since the president’s cancellation of the peace talks between government (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). The EfD lamented that AFP attacks against farmers and indigenous communities have only intensified and involved aerial bombings, shelling and strafing, as in Compostela Valley, Sarangani and even Abra. It was also during this period that Ramon and Leonela Pesadilla, a couple who had donated land for a Lumad school, were murdered in their home.

The EfD said that this rabid miliarization continues to put schools and their supporters in the line of fire and subverts the gains built by the Lumad in establishing educational facilities where government has provided none. The continued attacks against schools also tend to offset Duterte’s pro-Lumad pronouncements especially when he was Davao mayor. The administration should end these attacks and execute its duty to uphold the Lumad and every other Filipino’s right to education, said EfD. The group meanwhile vowed to amplify the call to help and advance indigenous people’s alternative schools and to gather wider support for this advocacy.

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These Lumad schools, most of which are recognized by the Department of Education, have been under attack by State military and paramilitary troops known to secure big mining, logging, coal energy operations and corporate plantations. Thousands of teachers, students, and entire communities are victims of harassment, land grabbing, ransacking, encampment of public facilities, strafing, villification, arson, demolition, torture, forced evacuation and extra-judicial killings. (IBON Infographic in cooperation with Save Our Schools Network Mindanao)

 

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Pres. Rodrigo Duterte recalled the government’s peace negotiators from negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) until being given “compelling reason” to resume talks. Research group IBON, however, points out that the most compelling reason for having peace talks are the economic and political reforms on the agenda that can address the roots of armed conflict. Ending the peace talks with the NDFP also ends talks on important social and economic reforms which makes the prospects for their implementation and achieving benefits for the people dimmer.

IBON noted that ceasefires are at most only momentary respites from fighting. The government and the NDFP reaching agreements on genuine reforms, on the other hand, are among the clearest steps towards peace based on social justice. The government and NDFP each prepared their proposed draft for a comprehensive agreement on social and economic reforms (CASER) and exchanged these in mid-January 2017. IBON reviewed these and compared their respective proposals for key reforms.

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Pres. Rodrigo Duterte recalled the government’s peace negotiators from negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) until being given “compelling reason” to resume talks. Research group IBON, however, points out that the most compelling reason for having peace talks are the economic and political reforms on the agenda that can address the roots of armed conflict. Ending the peace talks with the NDFP also ends talks on important social and economic reforms which makes the prospects for their implementation and achieving benefits for the people dimmer.

IBON noted that ceasefires are at most only momentary respites from fighting. The government and the NDFP reaching agreements on genuine reforms, on the other hand, are among the clearest steps towards peace based on social justice. The government and NDFP each prepared their proposed draft for a comprehensive agreement on social and economic reforms (CASER) and exchanged these in mid-January 2017. IBON reviewed these and compared their respective proposals for key reforms.

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The overwhelming win of an unorthodox Presidential candidate in the May 2016 elections promised several windows for reforms. For a country stricken with poverty and a worsening jobs crisis, beyond a coarse-mannered figurehead, prospects that this new leadership could jumpstart measures to improve the lives of the poor majority of Filipinos were introduced.

In the span the new administration’s first half-year, the nation bore witness to an unprecedented presidential stance on foreign policy and an openness to work and negotiate with non-traditional political forces. Meanwhile, the political circus threatens, including the Marcoses’ attempt to return and the saga of  Senate hearings on controversial issues and personalities. This, amid continuing State-sanctioned anti-drugs executions. Have concrete steps been taken to initialize the substantial change that the people await? Is change indeed underway?

The IBON 2016 Yearend Birdtalk will be held on 13 January 2017 at 1:00 o’clock to 5 o’clock in the afternoon (venue to be announced) for a briefing on the above issues, questions and more. Birdtalk is IBON’s semi-annual assessment of economic and political trends.

Everyone is enjoined to participate in this very timely discussion. The registration fee of Php175 will cover the Briefing Paper and modest snacks. Call 9276986 and 9277060-61 for details.

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“In 1980, the Marcos regime actually made the Philippines the first country in Asia and the second country in the world, after Turkey, to be at the receiving end of a World Bank structural adjustment loan (SAL). The conditionalities of the US$200 million loan included among others tariff cuts, removal of import licenses and quantitative restrictions, lowering protections, and export-promotion – all in line with the market-oriented restructuring of the economy. This first SAL and another US$302 million one in 1984 were the historic spearheads of subsequent decades of trade and investment liberalization in the country.” — from Anyare? Economic Decline Since Marcos

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“The rule of Nacionalista Party’s Ferdinand E. Marcos which began in 1965 was strong on nationalist and patriotic rhetoric. Yet Pres. Marcos was by no means a nationalist if ‘nation’ is understood as the majority of Filipinos and ‘nationalism’ as upholding their interests and asserting Filipino sovereignty over foreign powers.

“Most anti-nationalist president. The “nationalist” Marcos was the most anti-nationalist president the country had ever seen. Martial Law was declared not just for personal political survival but to use the coercive powers of the state to open up and restructure the Philippine economy according to the needs of foreign monopoly capital, especially the US whose post-colonial treaties were coming to an end. No less was needed to confront certain resistance from the resurgent nationalist and armed revolutionary movements – resulting in monumental human rights violations.

“Leftist activists gave justified attention to US-directed International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB) intervention in Philippine economic policymaking and their collusion with the Marcos regime. Eighteen of the 24 IMF programs the country has ever had were during the Marcos regime, six of which were during his first term before declaring Martial Law in 1972. It also accounted for nearly a hundred World Bank projects, with loans worth some US$5.2 billion, out of 250 such projects to date.

“The economy in the final years of the Marcos regime was in neoliberal-induced ruin. Unemployment and poverty were at historic highs.” – From Anyare? Economic Decline Since Marcos

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