DepEd corrects learning material ‘discriminatory’ towards Igorots

Jaehwa Bernardo and Arra Perez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 09 2021 02:20 PM | Updated as of Feb 10 2021 02:13 AM

DepEd corrects learning material ‘discriminatory’ towards Igorots 1
Teachers and school employees help to prepare elementary school modules for blended learning for the coming school opening at the Geronimo Santiago Elementary School in Manila on July 21, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA (UPDATE) – The Department of Education said Tuesday it has taken back learning material that contained discriminatory remarks against indigenous peoples of the Cordillera region and issued a correction on the matter.

Education Undersecretary Diosdado San Antonio explained that the material was an activity sheet that was produced and used by a teacher from a school in the Cagayan Valley region.

“Nauna siyang nag-reproduce na hindi pa siya tapos na ma-quality assure sa level ng [DepEd] division office… mabilis naman binawi at pinalitan nang tama,” San Antonio told ABS-CBN News.

(It was reproduced by the teacher even though it did not undergo quality assurance at the DepEd division office… It was immediately withdrawn and corrected.)

San Antonio also clarified that the material was only used in the particular school, contrary to claims on social media that it was used nationwide.

“About 50 learners ang na-involve (Only 50 learners were involved),” he said, citing a report from DepEd’s regional office.

San Antonio said activity sheets do not go through quality assurance with the DepEd Central Office since it was equivalent to quizzes or long quizzes in the in-person class setup.

Based on photos of the activity sheet that recently went viral on social media, students were asked whether the given scenarios were right or wrong. One item read: “Hindi ako makikipaglaro sa aking kaklase na Igorot dahil iba ang kaniyang pananamit.”

(I will not play with my Igorot classmate because his attire is different.)

Another item read: “Nakita mong tinutukso ng kaklase mo ang isang batang Igorot dahil sa kaniyang anyo.”

(You saw your classmate teasing an Igorot child because of his looks.)

In a separate statement, the DepEd said it “does not tolerate discrimination based on race, gender, age, religion or sexual orientation.”

“The department is committed to do its part to eliminate discriminatory practices in schools and offices,” it said, adding that mechanisms are in place for the agency to police such acts within its ranks.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian has called on the DepEd to review all learning materials produced by the agency to correct those with errors following reports about the discriminatory learning materials.

But San Antonio said not all learning materials can be checked by the DepEd Central Office.

The DepEd’s regional and division offices have their own quality assurance teams that check on the learning materials in their jurisdiction, he explained.

“Bawat layer ng aming bureaucracy, mayroon sariling quality assurance team (Every layer of our bureaucracy has its own quality assurance team),” San Antonio said.

Last month, the department issued guidelines on evaluating self-learning modules that would be used by students for the last 2 grading periods to ensure the quality of these materials.

In October, the DepEd launched formal channels where the public could report errors found in its learning materials.

DepEd had to switch to the use of modules for the shift to remote learning as in-person classes are still barred while the COVID-19 pandemic persists. 

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