KORONADAL CITY—The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has completed at least P105 million worth of school buildings intended for Indigenous Peoples (IP) across Central Mindanao region last year, the agency head reported Friday.

The project, under DSWD’s Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS), benefited around 5,500 IP children,  mostly from tribes of Blaan, T’boli, T’duray, Tagakaulo, Manobo Dulangan, Tagabanwa Manobo, Erumanen Ne Menuvu and Uvu Manobo, according to DSWD regional director Cezario Joel Espejo. 

Dir. Espejo said the funding, utilized for the construction of 32 out of 50 school building targets in the region, was made possible in partnership with the Department of Education.

“The IP sector is one of the most marginalized and disadvantaged sectors in our society. This convergence initiative has paved the way for the better quality education and service delivery to school children in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas in the region,” Espejo said.

Dir. Espejo explained unlike the usual state-funded school building, villagers were given the liberty to choose the name, type and other aspects of classroom construction.

“This is a unique project because it values the tribes’ cultures, traditions and practices,” Espejo said.

Kalahi-CIDSS, originally implemented in 2002, is one of the government’s poverty-alleviation programs that uses the community-driven development approach to empower communities in targeted poor and disaster-affected municipalities. The World Bank, one of the funders, claimed the project led to improvements in basic service delivery.

In Mindanao, the government has allotted P500 million for the construction of 315 school buildings for IP areas implemented by DSWD in five regions. (Hilbert Estacion / DSWD)

NEW CLASSROOM T’boli school children of Maan village in T’boli, South Cotabato now enjoy their new school building, a far cry from their old and dilapidated makeshift room being utilized for many years.