By: Vincent Carlo Cuzon

Just recently, stakeholders mostly coming from the Ateneo de Davao University and the Department of Education attended the launching of the first Senior High School in the country – the T’boli Senior High School (TSHS).

Led by no less than Bro. Armin Luistro, FSC of the Department of Education and Fr. Joel Tabora, SJ of the Ateneo de Davao University, the TSHS seeded the endeavour to create an educational system that is inclusive and that is reflective of the needs and aspirations of the learners. The learners, in this context, are the T’boli students of Lake Sebu, Surallah, South Cotabato.

According to the DepED website, the initial implementation of the T’boli Senior High School will cover technical-vocational studies. The said studies will revolve on two options: agriculture and ecotourism. Let us sweep through these two options relative to the locality.

Surallah is posing as one of South Cotabato’s Agri-industrial Centers. Aside from the production of corn and rice, it is also home to multinational companies that produce fruits for export. The area connects highways leading to the different cities and municipalities in South Cotabato. Additionally, it is well-watered by the natural resources present in its environs, which makes it a popular spot for agricultural activities.

Surallah and its surrounding cities and municipalities in South Cotabato also boast a wide array of tourism sites. Lake Sebu and the Seven Falls, to name a few, are getting the spotlights for tourists.

According to an article posted by Mindanews, South Cotabato had 384,296 tourists for 2014. Additionally, according to the Department of Tourism’s National Ecotourism Strategy (NES), Lake Sebu is one of its key sites for ecotourism. The cultural legacy of the Tboli is also mentioned in the NES.

Aside from the evident reasons presented above, an ethnographic research was conducted by the Ateneo de Davao University’s Department of Anthropology to thoroughly study the locality. T

he department was granted by the T’boli a Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) on September 13, 2014, for the study called T’boli Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices (IKSP), which then became a base for the formulation of TSHS’s curriculum.

The Ateneo de Davao University – School of Education then crafted the curriculum through additional consultations from the community last April 17-18, 2015. The curriculum highlighted the Sustainable Community Resource Management in the area.

Jason Tajores, a member of PIGLASAPAT and the incumbent School of Education Representative, further explicated the endeavours of the TSHS Project and its curriculum.

According to him, “In these times when the need for a globally-competitive and productive working force is at its peak, the call to preserve the heritage of the indigenous peoples, as well as the promotion for an effective and efficient utility of their resources, must therefore not be left out of the picture. The K to 12 Educational Reform aims to guide the Filipino youth towards the opportunities made readily available by an improving economy, and the responsibility of ensuring that the most of what we have will indeed be used lies on how these young minds will be educated.”