Students from Sierra Madre tribe also need cash aid, says chieftain
LUCENA CITY – A tribal chieftain in the Sierra Madre mountain ranges has appealed to the Department of Social Welfare and Administration (DSWD) to also include their school children in the government cash aid program.
“Our school children have yet to receive the reported cash aid from DSWD. The money will be a great help to their schooling,” Ramcy Astoveza, Agta tribe chieftain, said in Filipino in a phone interview Monday (Aug. 22) morning.
He added: “If there is cash aid, it’s better to distribute it immediately to help us prepare our kids for going back to school.”
The tribe maintains four schools in different tribal communities in the Sierra Madre section in the northern part of Quezon province.
Under the DSWD’s Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS), its educational assistance is an aid for students to help them pay for their school needs, such as school supplies and projects.
Astoveza said the Agta tribe could not provide for all their children’s school needs due to the high cost.
The Agta people depend on farming, fishing in mountain rivers, and gathering rattan and other mountain resources for a living.
Astoveza, a former commissioner of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, said the tribe met the start of the school year with mixed reactions.
“Lots of us are worried about the cost and health safety concerns. But at the same time, we’re glad they will continue their quest for knowledge,” he said.
According to Astoveza, some Agta schools returned to in-person classes last year.
He also appealed to the government to continue providing COVID-19 vaccines to the indigenous people, mainly schoolchildren. INQ
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