DepEd's K to 12: "Yes" to Rice Terraces, "No" to Mangroves?

"...For those in senior high school, we developed a curriculum based on the Rice Terraces. What we did was embed the engineering concepts of the Ifugaos in the math and science subjects. The Ifugaos already had this engineering knowledge even before the arrival of the Spaniards in the Philippines. What we’re showing is that engineering is not a foreign concept for Filipinos. If early Filipinos didn’t understand engineering, then they couldn’t have built the Rice Terraces. These early Filipinos already have a hydro and agricultural system that has been preserved for the past 2,000 years. That’s my point when I say that the old curriculum is a little alien for Filipinos...."
-Bro. Armin Luistro, DepEd Secretary

"Posted below is one of my many letters for DepEd to mainstream the modules. These letters were followed up by 3 visits to the DepEd headquarters in Manila (side errands to official trips, as I am based in Iloilo) trying to seek audience with both high  and lower officials of the Department ... to no avail. In short, I was given the run-around. I have a paper trail to show the processing of my request -- actually simple up-down and lateral movements, but no real progress in terms of the mangrove lessons getting an inch closer to primary students (in public schools), their target audience.

Now I read that the Rice Terraces are used to introduce schoolchildren to engineering concepts. The Pew modules likewise use mangroves as an entry point to introduce students to continental drift, earthquakes, tsunamis, storm surges, greenbelts and other scientific concepts/phenomena. No need for DepEd to invest time and money in development, only in reproducing and mainstreaming the modules in coastal primary schools throughout the country. So perhaps someone in this egroup can show Sec. Luistro that the mangrove modules in fact are rich in lessons that can ground a child to his native ecology, specifically, the mangrove ecosystem (and also coral reefs and seagrasses) which is as tropical as you can get. BTW, some half dozen copies have been submitted to various DepEd officials. For any help in increasing mangrove awareness, thank you."

J.H. Primavera, Ph.D. 
Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation
Scientist Emerita 
SEAFDEC Aquaculture Department


Bro. Armin A. Luistro, FSC
Secretary, Department of Education
DepEd Complex, Meralco Ave.Pasig City
Fax 02) 636 4876
                                Re: Request for appointment 16 Nov. or 19 Nov. 2010
Dear Secretary Luistro
May I request an appointment with you in the afternoon of either 16 Nov. 2010 (I will be flying in from Iloilo) or 20 Nov. 2010 ... to discuss mangrove instructional materials for primary schools?
In 2004, I was granted a Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation to conserve mangroves in Panay through formal education (and local governance). So I commissioned the preparation of the Mangrove Resource and Instruction for Elementary Grades Students' Modules and the accompanying Teacher's Manual (enclosed) published in 2009. Since then, more than 2,000 copies of the Module and 200 copies of the Manual have been distributed to 80 coastal elementary schools in the Western Visayas provinces of Aklan, Capiz, Guimaras and Iloilo, and a few in Luzon and Mindanao.
To maximize the returns of this major initiative (total cost of field trips, writing, publication etc. approx. PhP1 million over 3 years), I officially requested then Secretary J. Lapus and also Undersec. V. Labrador to mainstream the modules within the Department of Education by reproducing and distributing the materials to other regions, and by supporting teachers' training. There was no reply to both requests.
Meantime, teachers from the recipient schools find that they lack the confidence to teach the modules despite the available Teacher's Manual. Recognizing this major gap, the Association of Elementary Science Teachers in the Philippines (AESTEP) has initiated such hands-on, field-based training in the use of the modules: 36 local teachers in Nueva Sevilla, Iloilo and 110 teachers in Kalibo, Aklan. However, these are only 146 out of thousands of teachers in Panay! May I therefore discuss with you the possibility of DepEd support for a regional Mangrove Education training for the whole of Western Visayas, in addition to dissemination nationwide of the modules.
I hope you will be available in the afternoon of either 16 Nov. or 19 Nov. (or anytime 20 Nov.) 2010. Thank you.
J. H. Primavera, Ph.D.                                                                                          
Pew Fellow and
Scientist Emerita
SEAFDEC Aquaculture Department

Instructional Modules for Mangroves Education

A. Elementary Level
Module 1  Starting a Walk to the Mangroves Dr. Purita P. Bilbao
Module 2  Mangroves: Growing Forest by the Sea Dr. Crisanto Lopez, Jr. 
Module 3 Mangroves: Take a Closer Look Prof. Ruth L. Gelvezon
Module 4 Mangroves: Our Natural Treasure Prof. Marievic Violeta
Module 5 Mangroves: Our Responsibility
B. High School Level
Module 1 The Mangrove Ecosystem Prof. Jeannemar Genevieve Y. Figueras
Module 2 Mangrove Ecosystem Energetics Dr. Lourdes N. Morano 
Module 3 Man and Mangroves Prof. Ma. Elena Bernadette P. Hojilla
Module 4 Natural Forces and the Mangrove Forest Dr. Edna D. Domínguez 
Module 5  Mangrove Conservation Dr. Carla B. Torre

Dr. Jurgenne Primavera is a Researcher in the Aquaculture Department of the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center in the Philippines. She holds a PhD in Marine Science from the University of the Philippines. She will use her Pew fellowship to promote protection of the country's mangrove ecosystems, which are threatened by construction of aquaculture ponds and other exploitation. Primavera's message is that mangroves can save lives and property from destructive typhoons, filter out silt runoff that kills coral reefs, provide nurseries to juvenile fish and shrimp, and renew fisheries catches. 
Having spent many years promoting the construction of aquaculture ponds in mangrove areas, Primavera's message of mangrove protection carries significant weight. Primavera will develop educational materials and give thesis grants to high school and college students in the provinces of Iloilo and Aklan, where mangrove loss has been severe. In addition, she will promote improved government protection of mangroves and increased enforcement of current regulations.


The following is another education kit on mangroves, authored by Jens Marquardt and Malcolm Trevena, and supported by The Center for Education, Research and Volunteerism in the Philippines (CERV) and Meaningful Volunteer.


  1. There's should be a connection between upland and coastal, you cannot separate it, it is interconnected we should have even integrated learning module how upland influence the coastal ecosystem in many ways, Secretary Armin should support the interconnectedness of upland ecosystem, intermediary ecosystem and the coastal ecosystem for sustainable development.

  2. Philippines is the only country in Asia that don't have this kind of program in education. I think it is now the time to try it and apply it in our basic education for our students to be more competitive.

    Philippine Schools


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