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Indigenous Peoples' Access to Education

COBENA Business Analytics and Strategy

In 2014, the population of Indigenous Peoples (IP) in the Philippines was around 14 million[1], which was approximately 15% of the total Filipino population of 92 million. Majority of the IP communities are in Mindanao and the Cordilleras and are usually in mountainous regions, hence they have an inherent difficulty in accessing government services such as education. Figure 1 shows the distribution of the IP population in the country.

In measuring the relative access of IPs to educational facilities per region, the ratio of the indigenous student population to the number of public basic educational facilities was computed per region. The indigenous student population for each region was estimated by applying the percentage of the total regional population with ages between 5-19 years with the assumption that all of the IP students reside within their respective ancestral domains.

Figure 1: Population of Indigenous Peoples by Region


  1. 1. Central Luzon has the most favorable IP student population to public school ratio at 258:1.
  1. 2. Western and Central Visayas have the least favorable student to school ratio, with 3,598 IP students for each school.
  1. 3. The ancestral lands of IPs in Oriental Mindoro, Bukidnon, and the boundary of Bulacan and Nueva Ecija have no public school within 3 km from their respective boundaries.

Figure 2: Location of Ancestral Domains

From the data, Central Luzon has the best IP student population to school ratio, with each public school able to cater to 258 IP students. Western and Central Visayas, on the other hand, have the lowest IP student population to school ratio, with approximately 3,598 IP students for every public school.  

Using the school location data provided by the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education, we found that three ancestral domains have no public basic education schools even within 3 km from their respective boundaries. These ancestral domains are those of: a group of Tau-buid and Tadyawan Mangyan in Oriental Mindoro, the Bukidnon-Pulangiyen group in Bukidnon, and the Dumagat-Agtasnear the boundary of Bulacan and Nueva Ecija. Figure 3 shows the three ancestral domains (in yellow) while the bands (in gradients of blue) surrounding the boundaries have 1 km widths. The red pins depict the location of basic education public schools.

Figure 3: Three ancestral domains without basic education public schools even within 3 km from their respective boundaries



INDIGENOUS PEOPLES (IP), also called Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICC), are groups of people or homogenous societies identified by self-ascription and ascription by others who have continuously lived as organized community on communally bounded and defined territory, sharing common bonds of customs, traditions and other cultural traits, or have become historically differentiated through resistance to political, social and cultural inroads to colonization, non-indigenous religions and culture[2].

CERTIFICATE OF ANCESTRAL DOMAIN TITLE (CADT) refers to a title formally recognizing the rights of ownership and possession of IP or ICC over their ancestral domains identified and delineated in accordance with IP Rights Act of 1997 (IPRA Law)[3].

[1] Philippine Development Plan, 2017-2022

[2] Section I.l, RULE II: Definition of Terms, Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 (IPRA Law)

[3] Section I.c, RULE II: Definition of Terms, Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 (IPRA Law)


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