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When bringing education to underserved Blaans is being deemed as an act of rebellion

Saturday, August 27, 2011

When bringing education to underserved Blaans is being deemed as an act of rebellion
“Why is it becoming harder to be of service to your fellow Blaan? What does the government want us to do?” – Blaan Teacher

SECOND PART: Encampment in communities, instilling fear, part of ‘peace and development’ operations?
Sidebar: Neglected, Blaans unite, empower themselves
Sidebar: News in Pictures: Suffer the little children to go to this school
Sidebar: Slideshow: In Upper Suyan Village, children suffer the worst from poverty, militarization

By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
Bulatlat.com

DLUMAY, Sarangani – (First of two parts) Joy Lasib, 21, does not consider herself an activist. But when she suffered harassment from the military, she said she learned to be strong and to fight for her rights.

A Blaan, Lasib grew up in Davao del Sur, south of the Philippines. Her parents are peasants whose meager income is barely enough to put food on their table thrice a day. She managed to finish high school but they could not afford four years of college.

“I had wanted to take up education in college. But poverty hindered that dream. A mining company offered me a scholarship but our family declined because we do not want to be used. We know what they are doing to our lands,” Lasib told Bulatlat.com. SMI Mining Company has been digging into Lasib’s community in search of gold and other valuable minerals in Matanao, Davao del Sur. “Land is important to us. It is our life and it sustains our needs.”

Since she graduated from high school in 2002, Lasib had helped her parents in household chores. She said she was not able to muster the courage to apply for work because of her educational background. “I am also not confident about my multi-tasking skills,” she explained. Little did she know that a few years later, she would have to pluck up the courage not just to overcome her fear of multi-tasking but fear itself.

Educating the Blaan children 

In 2008, Her uncle, Yol Lasib, asked if she was interested in teaching Blaan children in a remote area in Sarangani, a neighboring province. She was more than interested. But she hesitated, thinking she was not competent to become a teacher. But she was promised some trainings.

A Blaan child during their psychosocial activity(Photo by Janess Ann J. Ellao / bulatlat.com)
“I thought it would be better to be of help to my fellow Blaans than to stay home doing nothing. So, I agreed,” she said.

The Center for Lumad Advocacy and Services (Clans) and the Sibol ng Agham at Teknolohiya (Sibol) arrived in the community of Sitio Dlumay in 2007. Sibol was then looking for a community with rich water resources for their micro-hydropower electric plant project. Looking closer at the needs of the community, one of the head teachers, Maricel Salem, asked the support of the NGOs in setting up of a literacy school for the children.
In a survey conducted in 2007, the literacy rate in six sub-villages of Upper Suyan was a mere three percent. At that time, most children would have to walk two to three hours a day to go to a formal school in the village proper of Upper Suyan. Malnutrition, parasitism and poor health among the residents were also common. Clans said farming methods remain backward and undeveloped..... MORE

Source:  Bulatlat.com

URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/08/25/when-bringing-education-to-underserved-blaans-is-being-deemed-as-an-act-of-rebellion/

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