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Multicultural Education: Practices and Programs in the Philippines

Multicultural education has no definite definition as this concept can be described from a lot of different perspectives. However, multicultural education can be defined as the integration of cultural consciousness of different ethnic groups on education as the inevitable outcome of social reality in western countries (Geng, 2013). According to Sherpa (2019), students, regardless of their gender, social class, and ethnic, racial, or cultural characteristics, should have an equal opportunity to learn in school. This is imperative that multicultural education was brought into practice because of different types of learners the society has.

Geng (2013) had elaborated the multicultural in China under the background of globalization by citing the different connotation of the concept, and its background in the western countries. Geng discussed that multicultural education was developed primarily in the United States of America because of the existence of the so-called multiethnic education which laid stress on the education issue of minority ethnic groups to mitigate the contradictions and conflicts between multiple nationalities. Geng further stressed the criticisms that multicultural education received, including in these criticisms are: (a) multicultural education is thought to be a new kind of racialism, covering up the class contradictions but failing to eliminate inequality in the society; (b) it might give rise to reduction of basic capacity of students, even foster their values of nihilism. However, not all scholars are against the idea of multicultural education. Some scholars thought that multicultural education is the solution to problems of education in societies having different ethnic groups (Sherpa, 2019).

Sherpa (2019) provided an extensive review on multicultural education and related it to the case of Nepal as a country of different ethnicities. Sherpa believes that the multicultural education is derived from varieties of cultures in which indigenous thoughts are imbedded for the creations of new knowledge to provide equal value and appreciation within the culture. The need for multicultural education is highly reflected on having an ethnic-and-culture literate citizens, respect for human beings and human dignity, globalization of education as skill development, and on the new skills and knowledge teachers must learn. Teachers, as the primary support to achieving a successful multicultural education system, should possess the following as posited by Geng (2013): (1) basic understanding of multicultural education; (2) the initiative in embodying cultural diversity in the process of teaching and education; and (3) the capacity of critical analysis, and then further cultivate this critical thinking capacity to their students.

According to Sherpa (2019), multicultural education is responsive to different types of learners. In the Philippines, this multicultural education can be related to inclusive education of the country. In 2009, DepEd Order No. 72 was signed, and it defined inclusive education as the philosophy of accepting all children regardless of race, size, shape, color, ability, or disability with support from school staff, students, parents, and the community. However, in the year 2013, a more updated law was created. The 2013 Enhanced Basic Education Act now refers to gifted and talented children, learners with disabilities, learners of madrasah, indigenous peoples, learners under difficult circumstances, such as geographical isolation, chronic illness, displacement due to armed conflict, urban resettlement, or disaster, and abused child as target groups of inclusive education. Among the inclusive education programs are the Indigenous People Education Program, Madrasah Education, Special Education, and Alternative Learning System.

In the Philippines, there are different sub-groups of people whose beliefs and culture are way different from each other. According to Minority Rights Group International (2020), the country’s population is composed of the main minority groups: Tagalog (24.4 per cent), Bisaya/Binisaya (11.4 per cent), Cebuano (9.9 per cent), Ilocano (8.8 per cent) Hiligaynon/Ilonggo (8.4 per cent), Bikol/Bicol (6.8 per cent) Waray (4 per cent), other local ethnicities (26.1 per cent). These different groups of people have similarities but have differences as well, which calls for the implementation of multicultural education system. In the Basic Education of the country, the Department of Education (DepEd) is implementing the Indigenous Education Program (IPEd) to promote a culture-based education in the country. Among the practices of the agency to successfully implement this culture-based education is by capacitating the teachers for IPEd implementation, and by preparing contextualized and indigenized lessons plans and instructional materials.

Multicultural education in the Philippines is not yet a big concern because the country is not yet populated by different races or nationalities. However, the government is responsive already to the needs of the different types of learners in the country. This action is a great step to achieving a successful multicultural education once Philippines is populated by different races. If a country can offer programs, and good practices in promoting a culture-based education, then it could successfully design a system for multicultural education.


(1) Geng, L. (2013). Reflection on Multicultural Education under the background of Globalization. Higher Education Studies, 3(6): 52-57

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(2) Sherpa, D. (2019). Exploring the Dimensions of Multicultural Education and Its Implication in Teaching Learning. Interdisciplinary Research in Education, 4(1): 35-42

(3) MRGI (2021). Minorities and Indigenous People in the Philippines. Retrieved at

(4) DepEd (2017). DepEd Sustains Support for Culture-based Education for IP Learners. Retrieved at

(5) Inclusive Education. Retrieved at

© 2021 Ryan Bernido

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