Teachers help us hone the knowledge and skills we need as we pursue our careers and make our own contributions to the world. Our teachers offer so much value—despite the job’s little promise of financial and material rewards, especially in the Philippines. It’s no wonder society recognizes teaching as a noble profession. All the more for teachers who take on more obstacles in Indigenous Peoples (IPs) schools.
These IP communities have been forced out of their homes, and the children have been denied of their rights to education. And for the past years, there have been news stories of Indigenous Peoples who took refuge in the concrete jungles of Manila, in response to the different forms of attack to the group’s schools and communities.
The difficult conditions in the IPs schools have caused the already limited number of teachers to withdraw from teaching. But despite the many challenges, some teachers have persisted in their mission to provide education and support to students. Unlike the typical classroom setup, teachers in IPs schools align their teaching methods to the immediate needs of the children. For example, teachers apply Science lessons to agricultural practices such as backyard farming.
Get to know how these three inspiring teachers in Mindanao are giving hope to students in IP communities.
Preserving Badjao culture through education
Along the coastline of the southern tip of Mindanao, Teacher Sherlaine Tubat enjoys teaching Badjao children in a floating school. Teacher Sherlaine had experienced the harsh realities in the Badjao community, after many years of teaching Badjao school children. In an effort to preserve and promote Badjao culture, she helps Lumad school children learn their own history, beliefs and practices, political system, and faith.
While IP community teachers constantly face the challenges of delivering quality education, some people, like teacher Sherlaine, don’t let the lack of resources hinder them from doing so. This shows that it only takes a bright mind and a heart for service to persevere in the teaching profession.
Feeding minds, nourishing bodies
Teachers in Indigenous Peoples communities willingly go beyond the call of duty. Teacher Jorta is the first full-time teacher at Keupiyanan Te Balugo, a public school in Satin Balugom Kalagangan, Bukidnon. During his assignment, he had seen that most of his students go to school with an empty stomach or skip classes because they have nothing to eat. These situations urged him to start a feeding program called “Balugo Pagkaon Sakto (Balugo Eat Well).” The program—which has gained the support of the local government and non-government organizations—has encouraged more students to finish their education.
Teacher Jorta was one of the finalists of this year’s The Many Faces of the Teacher, an initiative of Bato Balani Foundation to recognize inspiring teachers across the country. Indeed, teachers are always willing to provide help in every way possible even beyond their teaching duties.
Service before self
Newly assigned teachers in far-flung schools are full of energy and determination to empower students; and for many teachers, these outward goals come first before personal aspirations. This selflessness is especially visible among volunteer teachers in Indigenous Peoples schools.
Teacher Karl Butalid is a volunteer teacher in one of the Salugpongan schools in Davao de Oro province. Instead of building his career right after graduation, he devoted his time to teaching young Lumad school children.
He teaches in the Salugpongan Ta’ Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center, Inc. (STTICLC), an alternative community school. These community schools have faced temporary closures, which have disrupted the education of Lumad children and threatened the lives of the volunteer teachers. Despite all the obstacles, the teachers persevere in providing education the IP school children.
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