“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel”

By Mary Mullarkey

Mary is participating in the Bronze Global Citizen Award. This is the first of her global blogs. 

After spending four weeks in Cebu, The Philippines I learned how the Filipino education system benefits its fellow citizens but also how it significantly affects the people of the Badjao Tribe.

students

Students at Nano Nagle Montessori

The Badjao Tribe also known as “Sea Gypsies” are not recognised as citizens in the eyes of the Filipino Government.  This results in these people living in extreme poverty, being faced with discrimination on a daily basis and therefore resulting in the Badjao Tribe having no rights to education.  As a nation we are aware that education is a vital part of our welfare; it serves us with the skills to enhance our chosen careers in our future.  This unfortunately is a tool that the Badjao Tribe are deprived of.

After gathering this information, it worries and frustrates me to think that children would not be entitled to a prosperous future as a result of having little or no education.  Thanks to the Department of Education in Ireland, it is compulsory that every child has the right to an education until the age of sixteen despite of their background.

In the 1990’s it was revealed that over 95% of the Badjao children were illiterate.  Something drastic had to be done to combat this and with the support of the Presentation Sisters, a Montessori school was established to give the Badjao children firsthand experience to education.

Nano Nagle School in the Badjao Community, Cebu

Nano Nagle School in the Badjao Community, Cebu

Throughout my duration in Cebu, I discovered that the Montessori school years starts in May and ceases in February, while in Ireland the school years starts in September and finishes in May.  In addition to this, all of the children’s uniforms are donated by schools and are kept immaculate.  This illustrates that education is crucially important to these people as they keep their clothes in pristine condition.

Another noteworthy point to mention is that many of the children who attend second level education in public schools are confronted with discrimination and bullying from other students due to their circumstances.  This results in one in four children dropping out of school which stifles their chances of creating a progressive and successful future for themselves and their families.

According to statistics completed in 2012, it stated that 126 million children in developing countries still lacked the basic reading, writing and numeracy skills as a result of discrimination.

In my opinion, to combat the affects of discrimination, the Filipino Government must act accordingly and recognise the Badjao Tribe as citizens of the Philippines.  This will subsequently sustain a better future for the Badjao children and will destroy the detrimental and degrading stigma that is attached to the members of the Badjao Tribe.

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