Sitting atop the mountains and bordered by Davao del Norte, Bukidnon and Agusan del Sur, there is this community of Indigenous People with around 140 families who lived in total seclusion deep in the jungles and has never known anything beyond their isolated realm. No knowledge of the government, technology, and even school. This was until the establishment of Tapayanon Elementary School in their community in Tapayanon, Gupitan, Kapalong, Davao del Norte.
They were highlighted in news outlets when the Philippine Army found the IP settlement in February 2019. This quaint Ata-Manobo community lived isolated deep in the forests surviving on the seasonal Ata rice, cassava and camote. They lived in little huts made from forest trees.
Accessible by helicopters, Sec. Leonor Briones herself flew to the area to ensure that government assistance is given to the community especially in the establishment of schools.
The establishment of Tapayanon Elementary School addresses Education For All (EFA) goals as it encourages greater participation and access to free and complete elementary education. The discovery of this Sitio Tapayanon by the 60IB of the Armed Forces of the Philippines had opened the eyes and heart of the government which led to initiative of opening an elementary school to cater Indigenous People in the locality, which is also in consonance to the directive of the Department of Education (DepEd) Order No. 40, series 2014.
Now, merely a year after its establishment, Tapayanon Elementary School faces a new challenge: adapting to the new normal education due to the pandemic.
Without electricity to power TV and radio, the only feasible learning delivery modality to be used is modular.
Teachers take around an eight-hour hike after stopping where the road ends. From there they would have to cross rivers, climb steep hills, and tiptoe through ravines to be able to reach the school while ensuring that the modules shall be safely delivered to every household in the area. They personally hand over these modules to the families while observing proper health protocols.
Fortunately for our teachers, most of their students already know basic reading since it was their paramount goal last year – to make every pupil a reader. Without textbooks, the modules serve as the primary reading material for the pupils.
The regular visits by the teachers to retrieve and hand over new modules are used as opportunities by teachers to provide feedback to pupils for their modular work.
Without the regular classes where the pupils sit inside the four walls made of amakan and a roof of nipa as a makeshift classroom, the modules serve as a package of hope to every Tapayanon household that the government cares about them and their future.
They are not quarantined in their bubble of isolation and they are part of the nation. This is a testament to the Department’s battlecry of Sulong Edukalidad. Bringing education even to the last mile schools. (By Neil Edward D. Diaz)
This is page 7 of DepEd Davao Dispatch 3rd quarter issue.