Last week, the regional office of the Department of Education announced the closure of the 55 so-called Salugpongan schools, learning centers that government officials, particularly the military, tagged as the recruitment places for the communist movement.
In announcing the closure of the schools, Jenielito Atillo, spokesperson of the agency, justified the move by saying that it was the result of a fact-finding action which showed that there were enough proofs that these centers committed irregularities, among them curriculum standards set by the agency.
“We want to dig deeper and expand the horizons of the investigation,” Atillo was quoted as saying.
It may not be a coincidence but the announcement was made when the country was to commemorate the month as National Indigenous Peoples Month.
In 2009, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Proclamation 1906 declaring October as the National Indigenous Peoples Month. Ms. Arroyo made the declaration as part of complying with constitutional provision recognizing the rights of IP communities. The same provision also resulted in the passage of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act.
So now that the schools have been closed, what is the next step? The government should immediately come up with a comprehensive program that will address the void left by the schools, this time providing the communities with learning facilities that address their thirst for better education.
Unless the void is filled with a better educational program that will help the communities not only educate themselves but provide them with better economic opportunities, the fear that the other side will continue to lure young minds to its cause will continue to exist. And the success rate will always be very high.