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T’boli high school’s thrusts: Livelihood, culture for students

By: - Reporter / @jovicyeeINQ
/ 11:02 PM June 07, 2015

AS CLASSES opened in public schools on Monday, teachers at the country’s first senior high school (SHS) dedicated to indigenous peoples in South Cotabato province expressed confidence that their students could become globally competitive and yet cherish their own culture.

The technical-vocational courses offered to 45 students at T’boli Senior High School (TSHS) in Lake Sebu town are in line with T’boli culture, and will not only help them improve their community’s livelihood but also preserve their ways, said Benji Manuel, one of its four teachers.

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“The essence of our culture is passed on [to the students] and their knowledge of it is also developed; hence, it will survive for many generations,” Manuel said in a statement on Wednesday.

Fifty-seven other schools nationwide are early implementers of the SHS program.

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TSHS, which is located at Lake Sebu National High School, was launched last month by Education Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro, the Municipal Tribal Council of Lake Sebu and Ateneo de Davao University.

It is geared toward “the sustainable management of the indigenous community’s resources, local expertise and cultural heritage, in the context of current local, national and global realities, with due recognition of the indigenous peoples’ right to cultural integrity and self-determination.”

It commits to teach its students core values, such as “reverence for the holy, pride for the culture, respect for the elders, love for peace, hospitality and passion for learning.”

By having TSHS, the Department of Education (DepEd) seeks to instill the idea to the public that there is no contradiction between being globally competitive and being rooted to one’s cultural heritage, Rozanno Rufino, DepEd’s Indigenous Peoples Education head, told the Inquirer on Wednesday.

Students can choose between two technical-vocational courses—agriculture and ecotourism—which were based on the department’s consultation with the T’boli community and Ateneo de Davao. Through these courses, a number of livelihood opportunities await the graduates of the program, Rufino said.

He emphasized that heritage and ethical tourism were being taught to those enrolled in ecotourism. “It prepares the students how to promote their own culture and heritage [to local and foreign tourists], [with] due consideration to ethical issues and proper tourism practices in the area,” he said.

“It’s important that you’re rooted in your own culture. In fact, if you’re talking about globalization, if you’re just like the rest, [that’s not a good thing]. It’s better to have diversity. [In that way], you’re able to respect and promote who you are, your community and culture, [while] at the same time achieving the aspirations of your community,” Rufino said.

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Ateneo de Davao president Fr. Joel Tabora recognized the importance of having TSHS and the preservation of T’boli tradition and cultural identities was foremost.

“Davao entered into this program to be able to help the K-to-12 education create a program that will not make the students foreigners to their own culture, but will make them imbibe the values and the cultural traditions of the tribe even in a global age … when the T’boli also wants to be world-class, [and] to be able to enjoy the advantages of globalization and modernization,” Tabora said in a statement.

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