Culture-based education continues to grow and evolve in Bendum, in response to the community’s changing needs. For instance, from the basic program of Kinder to Grade 6, APC has now developed the basis by which it can offer Gulang, its counterpart to a mainstream school’s junior high. Since 2015, APC has been running classes for students in Grades 7 – 9, and will be offering Grade 10 this coming school year. APC also has five connecting schools in other villages in Upper Pulangi.
Community participation is critical to APC, and one of the school’s distinct features is the role that community teachers play. Teachers need to be of the culture and know the language, but there is also a recognition of the need for them to build their skills and capacities. For the most part, this has been done through the assistance of volunteers and partners who can support the teachers through training and workshops.
The expansion of the school’s operations and offerings challenges the local teachers to further upgrade and refine their skills. Last year, two of the APC community volunteer teachers, Thelma Compade and Arman Sagula, had the opportunity to participate in the Expanded Tertiary Education Equivalency and Accreditation Program or ETEEAP, offered by Capitol University in Cagayan de Oro. The ETEEAP is an accelerated college degree program, implemented in a distance learning format. This allows the community teachers the flexibility to continue teaching at APC, while accomplishing the work modules required by the program. Their work experience and prior non-formal learning experience are also awarded academic equivalency under the ETEEAP. Thelma and Arman recently completed the requirements of the program and will graduate on March 31.
Arman is a graduate of APC and currently teaches Natural Resource Management to the Gulang students (Grades 7-9) while Thelma teaches Kinder 1 and 2. Both high school graduates, ETEEAP provided them the opportunity to obtain a college degree in education within a year.
Congratulations, Arman and Thelma!