The Alternative Learning System (ALS) extension program of the Institute dubbed School by the Sea for Bajaus launched on May 13, 2011 celebrates its third year this year with wider support from the local and international communities.

The Department of Sociology, College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) and the College of Education ( CEd) that launched the ALS in 2011 has sustained the program and continues to make its presence felt in the Badjau community by bringing new partners from within and outside the Institute.

Its main aim is to provide alternative education to the Bajau youth living in Purok 4, Tambacan, Iligan City.

This commitment by the Institute was formalized in a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Institute and the Bajau community partnering with the Barangay.Tambacan LGU, the Medical Center College, Friends of Bajau Inc .-Iligan (FBII) which is an NGO supporting the Bajau, and the Community Development Department of MSU.

With nothing to start with, the School by the Sea’s ALS has increasingly generated support from local and international donors over the years. Infrastructure support for the construction of the first Bajao ALS Center was provided by FBII and FEMPOV-Philippines. Tanging Yaman Foundation and the Association of IIT Alumni Foundation, Inc. ( AITAFI) provided funding for the school that could accommodate at least 2 grade levels.

Dr. Nimfa L. Bracamonte, Director for the OVCRE Extension Department in a paper entitled “Evolving a Development Framework for the Sama Dilaut in an Urban Center in the Southern Philippines” published in the Borneo Research Bulletin in 2005 said that the Bajau are nomadic, ‘maritime people’ “who are culturally separated from mainstream Philippine society [and] have moved to urban streets to beg for survival.”

Of about 110 ethnic groups in the Philippines, the group known as Sama Dilaut is likewise known by other names in Southeast Asia. The group is a Sama speaking peoples commonly known as “Bajau”, (alternate spelling is Badjao) a pejorative term. It is the most marginalized group in the country according to researchers.

They are known to live along the coastal areas of the Zamboanga Bay and throughout the Sulu Archipelago and around the islands of Tawi-tawi. Indigenous to Southeast Asia, the Sama Dilaut is found in the coasts of Sabah, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and eastern Indonesia and among the islands of the Celebes Sea.

Today, Bracamonte said various civic organizations, private individuals here and abroad, and religious organizations like the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritan) have provided assistance in livelihood, health, and other forms of support for the Badjaus during several occasions.

Through the initiative of the Spiritan missionary sisters for instance, a newly- inaugurated health center funded by Eugenie Caps of Spain is now available for the use of the community.

The ALS program has since registered a total of 55 school age enrollees and adults. They are being taught by 12 volunteer mastals/teachers mainly coming from the CASS and CED faculty members with support from student volunteers. The program also solicits funds to assist the 15 pupils enrolled in the Tambacan Elementary School.

On January 20, 2014, more than 70 Bajau children from the community with some adults had an Educational Exposure Trip to the Spiritan Learning Center at Pindugangan, Iligan City, an upland barangay that provided the children of a change of scenery, flora, and fauna, different from what the Bajaus, accustomed to living in coastal areas are used to. Contributed by the OVCRE Extension Department for OC-OPI

The “School by the Sea” in Barangay Tambacan, Iligan City

Dr. Sol Ponce, MSU-IIT coordinator for the ”School by the Sea”

Bajau children perform for visitors at the “School by the Sea”

Bajau children watch a film as part of their Educational Exposure Trip to the Spiritan Center in the upland Barangay of Pindungan, Iligan City on Jan. 20, 2014.

The Bajau children during the Educational Exposure Trip

Topics : Alternative Learning System Program (ALS)  extension program