Classrooms are empty and the basal is silent, but APC students continue to learn through modular approach.
School year 2020-2021 officially started on 31 August for Apu Palamguwan Cultural Education Center. But unlike previous years, the campus in Bendum is not teeming with children and youth getting ready for their classes. Due to restrictions introduced because of the Covid crisis, classrooms are empty, yet learning continues.
The school community is undergoing several changes to ensure continued access to culture-based education for the youth of Upper Pulangi. Teachers have prepared learning modules for students in lieu of face-to-face classes. These modules contain their weekly lessons, instructions and exercises to help students master the competencies prescribed by the Department of Education within the context of their culture.
For villages with APC connecting schools, students come to collect their modules where the teachers can guide them, while following needed health standards. For villages with no APC schools, specific houses are designated for distribution at the start of the week and for the collection of completed modules at the end of the week.
Distance learning in the uplands is challenging, and some students opted to enroll to schools closer to their homes. Yet, APC sees a slightly increased enrolment this year from some students who see the value of the modules, adults who want to return to school and former students who got married. Through the modular approach, they are able to continue their studies from home.
It is very intense work for the teachers each week yet they feel affirmed in their efforts, and happy that in these times they can contribute to giving greater stability for communities and increasing the awareness for greater health caution and care. This is harvest time for many, so people are busy, but it also means families are more likely to have the food they need and the energy to engage.
While there are no Covid cases in the valley, and there are few in the neighboring cities, the awareness is important and the fresh air helps. Simply, the cultural coherence of the community around the school is very encouraging, sharing a peaceful and hope-filled context and continuing to provide broad and humble service.