UCA News

Philippine authorities order closure of 55 tribal schools

Closure follows accusations they are teaching children left-wing ideologies, military tactics

Philippine authorities order closure of 55 tribal schools

Students in Philippine capital Manila hold a protest to call for a stop to attacks on tribal schools in Mindanao. (Photo by Jire Carreon)

Published: July 15, 2019 09:11 AM GMT

Updated: July 15, 2019 09:15 AM GMT

Philippine education officials have ordered the closure of 55 tribal schools in the southern region of Mindanao for allegedly teaching "left-leaning ideologies."

The country's Department of Education told the schools last week to explain their alleged links to communist rebels operating in the region.

The schools were denied permits to operate for the upcoming 2019-20 school year.

The suspension order was issued upon a recommendation made by national security adviser Hermogenes Esperon, a retired general.

Education Department spokesman Jenielito Atillo said the move follows allegations made by a former student, who claimed that children in tribal schools are taught how to handle firearms and military tactics such as ambuscades.

Students in these schools were also reportedly used in protests and taught "anti-government ideologies."

The schools are being run by the nonprofit Salugpongan Ta’ Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center Inc.

The Save Our Schools Network, a coalition of church and non-government groups, condemned the order, saying it did not follow due process.

In a statement, the group said it has repeatedly raised concerns on how the military have forcibly closed schools and even forced villagers at gunpoint to destroy school buildings.

Salugpongan said it would fight the "fabricated accusations” to justify the closure of the schools.

"We are saddened that the government’s mandate to recognize and uphold the right of the [tribal people of Mindanao] to an education and self-determination is suppressed by a militaristic approach that further marginalize the [people]," it said.

Even before the the suspension order, only 11 of the 55 Salugpongan schools were operating because of alleged military harassment.

Earlier this year, the Save Our Schools Network reported that at least 85 tribal schools also in Mindanao have been closed due to military operations.

International child rights group Save the Children also reported that conflict in the southern Philippines has displaced 76,383 children. The report indicated that at least 7,200 tribal children were not able to go to school because of armed conflict.

Tribal schools in Mindanao have come under increasing pressure since peace negotiations between the government and communist rebels failed in in 2017.

Help UCA News to be independent
Dear reader,
November begins with the Feast of All Saints. That month will mark the beginning of a new UCA News series, Saints of the New Millenium, that will profile some of Asia’s saints, “ordinary” people who try to live faithfully amid the demands of life in our time.
Perhaps the closest they will ever come to fame will be in your reading about them in UCA News. But they are saints for today. Let their example challenge and encourage you to live your own sainthood.
Your contribution will help us present more such features and make a difference in society by being independent and objective.
A small donation of US$5 a month would make a big difference in our quest to achieve our goals.
William J. Grimm
UCA News

Share your comments

Latest News

Asian Dioceses
Asian Pilgrim Centers
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia