Legazpi School Fosters Education and Dreams Among Indigenous Peoples

LEGAZPI: In Barangay Bakal, Paracale, Camarines Norte, Melody Portugal, a 60-year-old member of the Manide tribe, stands as a symbol of perseverance and hope. She recently received Christmas gifts including school supplies, essential for her ongoing journey in learning to read and write. For years, Portugal has been attending the Katutubo Village Elementary School (KVES), a critical institution in combating illiteracy among the indigenous community.

According to Philippines News Agency, Portugal was encouraged in 2020 to move closer to KVES to facilitate her access to education. Balancing her day job at a calamansi farm with her educational pursuits, Portugal is determined to overcome her inability to read and write. "I just want to learn so I will not get lost when I travel because I can read the signboards," she explained. Portugal's enrollment at KVES is part of a broader effort by the Department of Education, supported by the provincial and municipal governments of Camarines Norte, to provide education to the Manide tribe, regardless of age.

KVES, a three-room schoolhouse, serves as a literacy hub for the Manide tribe, blending mainstream and modular education for both children and adults, including night classes for those who work during the day. Currently, the school has 184 indigenous students, with 98 children and 86 adults. The institution is staffed by seven teachers dedicated to providing education that respects the Manide tribe's cultural heritage while addressing contemporary educational needs.

Terrazula emphasized the school's commitment to equality and the belief that everyone has the right to education. The daily efforts of KVES teachers, who walk over two kilometers through challenging terrain to reach the school, signify their dedication to eradicating illiteracy among the Manide tribe. Portugal recalled how IP children initially feared attending school, but now it's common to see mothers and children learning side by side.

The resilience and determination displayed by students and staff alike at KVES highlight the school's role in empowering the indigenous community to overcome historical barriers to education. Melody Portugal, at 60, embodies the spirit of never giving up on one's dreams, regardless of age. "As long as my eyes can see clearly, I will study how to read and write," she said, epitomizing the transformative power of education.