The importance of education to The Philippines’ indigenous communities

8 Aug 2016   |   Blog   |   Indigenous peoples   |   Philippines   |   Long-term Development

Tags:  Philippines, Indigenous   |   No comments

Marry Ann in school

This year’s International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples theme is devoted to the right to education.

The theme is fitting, given the continuous issues which indigenous communities face when it comes to receiving adequate and fair education. Discrimination, racism, stigmatisation of identities, language barriers and a lack of resources are just some of these issues and sadly, they continue to happen worldwide.

In the Philippines, Caritas Australia is working closely with  partner organisations to ensure that the country’s indigenous peoples can access their basic right to an education.

One of our partner organisations in the country is the Socio Pastoral Action Center Foundation of Daet, Inc. (SPACFI). They run the Indigenous People – Empowerment and Development Project (IPEDP). The project, which Caritas Australia supports, has given the likes of 16 year-old Marry Ann the opportunity to go to school.

Marry Ann

Marry Ann is part of the Manide (Kabihug) indigenous community and grew up in the Camarines Norte region. Her parents are farmers and Marry Ann spent a lot of her childhood helping them plant vegetables and looking after her younger siblings.

Marry Ann began attending school when she was 7 years old at the encouragement of her father. She has experienced discrimination during her school life, but Marry Ann has refused to let it get in the way of her learning.

When Marry Ann was in grade 7, she started participating in SPACFI’s IPEDP program, which helped her attend school by providing her with school supplies, transportation and a food allowance.

“By attending school, I’ve learned that education is not only received in the four corners of the room,” Marry Ann says.

“We have to mingle and participate with others. I always participate in the extra-curricular activities in school like Pabirik Festival in Paracale and Cooking Contest in Basud, Camarines Norte. Sometimes I am the one who conducts and leads the Flag ceremony in our school.”

Marry Ann aspires to become a teacher herself, so she can help other indigenous people in the future and do her part to “create a peaceful and productive community.”

“I also want to help my parents and have a lovely and peaceful family in the future,” she says.

Rachel at a training course

Rachel is another young indigenous woman who has been supported by Caritas Australia and SPACFI’s IPEDP program.

Rachel also lives in Camarines Norte. The 16 year-old has experienced many hardships in her childhood and lived with her grandmother for a period in San Felipe, Basud. It was during this time that Rachel was able to go back to school to finish her elementary studies.

Now back living with her mother, Rachel has been able to further her education with the help of the IPEDP program. A Community Organiser from the program visited her tribe in early March, which was the beginning of her association with the program.

“They [SPACFI] helped me and my family to continue our daily lives,” Rachel explains.

“They helped to support my studies. Their program provided my monthly allowances for fare and food and also provided school supplies which are needed for my studies.”

Rachel has also been able to attend several training sessions and seminars hosted by SPACFI, including a children’s rights orientation, paralegal training and the Indigenous People’s Summer Youth Camp.

“I am really grateful for Caritas Australia, Australian Aid and SPACFI for everything that they have done for us,” Rachel says.

“Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am now.  In return for their generosity, I promise to finish my studies and achieve my dreams.”

Find out more on Caritas Australia's partnership with Socio Pastoral Action Center Foundation Inc.

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