Promoting sustainability through education
For Zenaida Dandana, a Subanon indigenous person (IP) from a remote mountain village in Southern Philippines, learning how to read and write is still a dream. With a literacy level of a fourth-grader at age 50, understanding English, the universal language, is already quite hard for her. The difficulty is compounded when she tries to read.
TVIRD Canatuan CReDO Manager Thess Limpin provides an overview of the Functional Literacy Training Program (FLTP) for adults and the Acceleration and Equivalency Examinations for out-of-school youths.
Most of the beneficiaries of the FLTP are women. Poverty and the distance of schools deprive IPs of their right to education.
The Literacy level among adult Subanons at Sitio Canatuan in Siocon, the southernmost town of Zamboanga del Norte, averages only at Grade Three. At least five adult Subanons in this tribe do not have any formal schooling at all. Meanwhile, the average level for Subanon Out-of-School Youths (OSYs) is pegged at 5th Grade.
The low literacy levels can be attributed to two major factors: poverty and the distance of schools. A vicious cycle is thus perpetuated: unemployment, which breeds poverty, prevents children from going to school.
Lydia Dandana tells her story: “It’s very difficult for us Subanons who lack formal education to understand and read, especially the English language.”
To help address the low literacy and lack of education in its host community, TVI Resource Development Philippines, Inc. (TVIRD) recently relaunched its Functional Literacy Training Program (FLTP) for Subanon Adults, and Acceleration and Equivalency Examinations (AEE) for OSYs under the auspices of Company’s Community Relations and Development Office. FLTP will be implemented within July in coordination with the local Jose Rizal Memorial State College (JRMSC), while the AEE will be done in partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd) office based in Siocon.
Jose Rizal Memorial Stage College President Edgar Balbuena stresses a point during the launching ceremonies: “I am glad and impressed with how the TVIRD, is giving attention to the educational rights of its host Subanon Community. We do not find companies like this everywhere.” At right is Yulo Perez, TVIRD Vice President for Philippine Operations.
A total of 80 Subanon adults, mostly members of the Siocon Subanon Women Association, Inc. (SSWAI) aged 25 to 65 have registered under the FLTP curriculum, while at least 60 OSYs have signed up for the AEE.
“Lisod gayud alang kanamo nga mga Subano nga kulang sa edukasyon ang pagsabot ug pagbasa ilabi na sa eninglis. Gumikan niini, lisod usab nga kami makasulod sa trabaho. Bisan ang pagbasa sa lyrics sa videoke dili namo mahimo. Niini, nahikawan kami sa pagpahimulos sa maong kalingawan ug nawala ang kahigayonan nga mahimo nga singer [It’s very difficult for us Subanons who lack formal education to understand and read, especially the English language. Because of this, it is hard for us to be employed. We cannot even read the lyrics of the song in the videoke (a favorite Filipino past time). Thus, we cannot even enjoy such recreation and we no longer have the chance to become famous singers] ,” Dandana said during the launching ceremonies at the TVIRD Clubhouse in Canatuan.
DepED, JRMSC and TVIRD officials and staff after the launching ceremonies. “I commend TVIRD’s sincere commitment to its host community,” says JRMSC’s Dr. Evelyn Campiseno.
“The Subanons have waited for a long time for them to enjoy their right to education. It’s timely and relevant for TVIRD to implement this program under its Social Development and Management Plan (SDMP),” says Jose Dagala, TVIRD’s FLTP point person. “Subanons now have the chance to study in line with their skills. This is a responsive educational program and just among the many that TVIRD has lined up for our hosts.”
For his part, JRMSC President Edgar Balbuena said: “I am glad and impressed with how the TVIRD, is giving attention to the educational rights of its host Subanon Community. We do not find companies like this everywhere.”
Evelyn Campiseno, JRMSC vice president, on the other hand, said she had second thoughts in coming to Canatuan for the launching program. “I was afraid to come due to rumors of unstable peace and order situation in the area and the Company’s alleged insensitivity to the host community’s needs and rights. I was wrong with my perception after all. The rumors are just fabrications, as well. I commend TVIRD’s sincere commitment to its host community.”
TVIRD operates a gold and silver mining and milling operation in Canatuan, and will expand to copper-zinc production in 2008. (Rene Patangan)
A Subanon cultural presentation during a lull in the launching ceremonies.