Jimmy Laking
Baguio Mildand Courier, 1/25/2009

The provincial board of Benguet last week gave the go-signal to the Department of Education to teach autonomy in high school on the condition that “political issues will not be included as part of the teaching module.”  The board has rejected the instruction of autonomy in the elementary level, saying schoolchildren would have a hard time understanding the topic.

On the motion of Juan Nazarro Jr., the board also agreed that a teaching module should be brought first to its attention before it is taught in classrooms.

Among the political issues the board wanted excised from any instruction on autonomy is the history of the autonomy movement as well as the Organic Act that mandated the creation of autonomous regions in the Cordillera provinces and in Mindanao.

Board member Apolinario Camsol suggested earlier that autonomy should be discussed only in symposia, and not to be taught on a day-to-day or weekly basis.

He also scored the regional head of the National Economic Development Agency for his pro-autonomy bias.

Most of the board members have earlier rejected the teaching of autonomy on both high school and elementary levels. But after a meeting with NEDA regional head Juan Ngalob, the provincial board voted to have it taught in high school.

“He should be neutral and not insist on the supposed goodness of autonomy,” Nazarro said.

He said the teaching module for high school will still be subject to the approval of the provincial board.

He also said he was assured that the module will limit itself only to the definition of autonomy.

Despite the board’s approval, it was not made clear on how teachers will be paid for the extra load and what specific government agency will foot the budget to shoulder the teaching modules as well as the training of teachers.

It was not also clear if teachers have been consulted before the Department of Education and the NEDA came to an agreement to propagate autonomy in the classrooms.