HomeNewsCatholic priest appeals for dictionaries for Filipino tribal children

Catholic priest appeals for dictionaries for Filipino tribal children

The campaign aims to gather copies of Tagalog-English dictionaries for tribal children who are enrolled under the new modular learning system due to the pandemic

A Catholic priest in the Philippines launched this week an online campaign aimed at collecting dictionaries for tribal children in remote villages.

The campaign aims to gather at least 200 copies of Tagalog-English dictionaries for tribal children who are enrolled under the new modular learning system of education due to the pandemic.

The country’s Education department imposed a new learning system that uses online and modular teaching instructions this year.

Father Edwin Gariguez, Development and Advocacy Support Coordinator of faith-based group Mangyan Mission, said tribal communities are struggling to cope with the new learning system.

“Tribal students are relatively in great need of support compared to students living in lowlands or city centers,” said the priest.

He said most of the tribal learners in the Vicariate of Calapan in Mindoro province have been registered in the modular learning system because of lack of gadgets, electricity, and internet access.

“One primary requirement for these Mangyan students is the Tagalog-English dictionary,” said the priest.

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“Most of the modules are written in English and they need a dictionary to better understand the words and the sentences,” he said.

The Department of Education announced that close to 25 million students enrolled this year in the country’s 47,000 public schools.

Without face-to-face classes, children attend classes through various education modalities.

However, unlike the online learning method, tribal students enrolled in the modular system have no access to an online dictionary or a teacher to ask if they cannot understand a word or a sentence in the module.

Normally, learners are guided by their parents, but in the case of the tribal communities, a lot of parents also struggles with the English language or even with Filipino.

A simple Tagalog-English dictionary costs less than US$2 each.

Tribal children in a remote village in the province of Mindoro, Philippines. (Photo courtesy of Father Edwin Gariguez)

Christianne Santos, founder of the church-based youth organization 2KK and one of the groups behind the campaign, said they also promote concrete ecological actions through the activity.

“If people will donate old and unwanted dictionaries then we can save more trees and encourage the public to abandon the ‘throw-away culture,’” she said.

Santos said apart from books, specifically Tagalog-English dictionary, they are also accepting other educational materials that tribal learners can use.

She said people who want to donate second-hand Tagalog-English dictionary or send monetary donations may visit the Facebook pages of Mangyan Mission – Integral Development & Advocacy and 2KK Tulong sa Kapwa Kapatid Foundation.

The Department of Education earlier said the government is anticipating some issues and problems in the implementation of distance learning.

Father Gariguez urged the Education department to revisit remote communities in different parts of the country and “assess if this new learning method is suited to the needs of the tribal students.”

“We need to level the playing field because, obviously, the tribal students are the aggrieved sector in this new policy,” he said.

The priest also encouraged authorities to establish an office within the Education department that will “ensure that the context of the modules and other educational materials that the tribal students will use are appropriate with their culture.”

“The lack of a dictionary in tribal communities is just one small problem that we did not foresee. We need to take a closer look if there are bigger problems,” said Gariguez.

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