For more than 7,000 islands in the Philippines, our country is rich in “katutubo” o native people who live in mountain high places that has also have right to learn.

Most modern societies are interested in including everyone in the development and growth of their nations. It is no different from our country. Many government and private institutions have developed programs to promote education for indigenous people. In fact, some educational organizations have decided on extreme measures to take education to the mountains where indigenous people live. Such extreme plans are based on the discovery that moving indigenous young people to urban settings for schooling has not been too successful. With all the efforts of educating indigenous people, little is still known about the strategies that are effective because a large number of such programs are unsuccessful.


Quite a large body of knowledge has been developed over the past few decades on the challenges and effective ways of educating indigenous people around the world. Most of the studies have been conducted in Canada, New Zealand, and Australia (Baker, 2007; Canadian Council on Learning, n.d.; Capistrano, 2010; Council of Ministers of Education, 2010; oulouse, 2008, March; uharsky, Buisson, Britton, & Enion, 2005). Few studies have been conducted in the Philippines (Capistrano, 2010; Fiagoy, 2000; Licen, Lihtenvalner, & Podgornik, 2012; Mahinay, 1995; Te Episcopal Commission on Indigenous Peoples, n.d.). Many of these studies have focused on the daily lives, rights, cultures of the Filipino indigenous people and their integration in the mainstream society. Very few studies have focused on the education indigenous people.


Many institutions have failed in the education of indigenous people. Some of the causes of the failure in educating indigenous people seem to be similar in studies conducted in different countries. Some of the causes include lack of contextualization of the lessons, lack of connection between school and the indigenous community, lack of integration of indigenous cultural values in the classroom, lack of understanding of the way indigenous people learn, and lack of understanding of indigenous people’s needs, lack of vision for their empowerment, lack of understanding of the support system of indigenous learners, among others (Fiagoy, 2000; The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, 2010). While the intention may be good for both government and non-government organizations and institutions to provide education to indigenous people, lack of this critical knowledge can only lead to failure in their effort. Unfortunately, many innocent learners can often be blamed for their failure. There seems to be no study done on the education of indigenous people that does not quickly discover the failure of the educational system.

The following section presents the themes that synthesized the factors that help the success of theKatutubo (Native people) students that might help our fellow teacher experiencing such challenge in reaching the native learners thru educating them. The first two are the themes that were unique to this study. They are not commonly highlighted in other studies.

  1. Teachers must always encourage their students by telling them how much they believe in them. They provide necessary support, even if that means going beyond the prescribed number of hours of class instruction.
  2. Make the students “servants of the Master”. For the school system administrator, “our God is a surprising God”. This is what He wants to see all the Katutubostudents to get. The school system promotes spiritual values that help students develop skills to be of service to other human beings and to a Greater Power than they are. They emphasized their reliance on God for their success. While they transform the lives of their students, they feel being transformed by the power of God. The greatest fear of the school system administrator was that all the work that has been accomplished could be destroyed in college because he could not trust the values that are being promoted in many colleges today, as far as Biblical truths are concerned.
  3. Respect is highly encouraged and expected from all students. Teachers must show their love to their students. This promotes an atmosphere of trust. Bravery is demonstrated in theKatutuboschools in the fact that some of the kindergarten and first graders are teenagers; it takes great bravery to do that. Furthermore, just to go to school when the Katutubo society does not necessarily promote formal education requires a lot of bravery. Wisdom and humility are values that are also emphasized in the Katutubo school system. In fact, one-on-one conversations with students, without age distinction, demonstrated a lot of wisdom and humility. It was evidence that their schools must be promoting these two principles. Honesty and truth are other principles of life that teachers instill in their Katutubostudents.
  4. The teacher never lectured during the whole observation hour; she only asked questions that helped learners construct their own knowledge.
  5. At the beginning of each school year, the school system administrator makes sure all teachers, new or old, participate in a professional development to help them with the mission and vision of the school system, and what is expected in the classroom for the Katutubo learners. He emphasizes important values such as love, patience, and cooperation, in addition to several Christian values that all teachers and students are expected to promote in their schools and their communities.
  6. Strong School-Community Relationship
  7. Active Citizenship
  8. Teacher Commitment


Long-term planning is not part of their culture, while education heavily relies on long-term investment of time and other resources. Additionally, teen marriages are encouraged in the Katutubo culture, although this is the time when children should be completing their studies. Tis practice leads many to drop from school to begin married life prematurely.





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