Maramag, Bukidnon—An anthropologist based in Mindanao has raised concern over textbooks being distributed in public and private schools and approved by the Department of Education (DepEd) because these were allegedly contributing to biases against Muslims.
Jesuit priest Fr. Albert Alejo, who is also an anthropologist at the Ateneo de Zamboanga University, said Thursday that on Page 305 of the Hekasi textbook for Grade II—titled “Ang Lahing Filipino, Dakila at Marangal”—Muslims were labeled as terrorists.
He pointed to this line on the page: “Ang mga kabataan sa Mindanao ay kinukumbinsi ng mga teroristang Muslim na sumanib sa kanilang pangkat. Marami sa kanila ay nasasaktan at namamatay (The youth in Mindanao are being recruited by Muslim terrorists to join their group. Many of them get hurt and die).”
Alejo pointed out the error during the national gathering of anthropologists at the Central Mindanao University here.
He said he could not understand how DepEd missed this blunder.
“This kind of textbook has aggravated biases and would certainly aggravate the long history of conflict in Mindanao and all over the country,” Alejo said, adding that there are 60 textbooks for elementary and high school containing major errors.
He also said there are educational and visual aid posters being distributed through a popular bookstore with branches nationwide that are religiously insensitive.
The posters, he said, must have been approved by the DepEd too. The posters identified the “national food” as roast pig, he said.
Alejo said the country’s educational system should nurture unity instead of promoting a culture of hatred that now prevails in Mindanao.
“The success of peace-building programs of Catholic educational institutions must be gauged, among others, on how they move Christians into admitting that they play a part in the historical marginalization of minority groups and that there can be no just resolution to the Mindanao conflicts without their support,” he said.
Alejo said Mindanao has suffered so much because of the conflict and textbooks were not helping end it.
The rebellion in Mindanao, he said, had killed at least 50,000 people, driven 2 million people out of their homes, destroyed more than 500 mosques, 200 schools and 35 cities and towns.
“For almost three decades now, the war had cost the economy some P10 billion per year,” Alejo said.
Alejo said that aside from correcting the Grade II textbook, DepEd should also correct errors in a textbook being used in Grade IV.
He said the textbook erroneously stated that Tausugs hail from the Lanao provinces. Tausugs, said Alejo, are from Sulu. The Maguindanaon of Maguindanao were erroneously referred to as people of Davao del Sur and the Maranaos as people from Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, Alejo said.