The first 36 graduates of the Tboli Sbù Senior High School pose for a class photo with Department of Education officials, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority officials, the Community Elders and members of the Municipal tribal Council, and partners from Ateneo de Davao University. Photo by Eanna Marie Fernandez.

By Gracielle Deanne Tubera
The Tboli Sbù Senior High School (TSSHS) celebrated its first graduation ceremony last 5 April  at its campus at barangay Lamdalag, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato.
A total of thirty-six (36) Tboli students graduated from the school’s special senior high school program for Sustainable Community Resource Development. Fourteen (14) of the graduates specialize in Eco-Tourism, and twenty-two (22) specialize in Livelihood Management. The graduates were also given National Certificates by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) during their graduation.
The Tboli Sbù Senior High School is the pioneering senior high school in the Philippines that features a culturally appropriate and sensitive curriculum for indigenous peoples based on the community’s own aspirations, resources, and cultural heritage.
The school offers a Sustainable Community Resource Management course that has two specialization programs of Livelihood Management and Eco-Tourism. In the Livelihood Management program, students are taught about Tnalak weaving, loom weaving, embroidery, brass casting, woodcarving, sustainable crop production, and entrepreneurial and management skills. In the Eco-Tourism program, students are taught environmental conservation, and sustainable tourism management and practices. TSSHS also teaches its students six core values as identified by the Tboli’s community elders. These core values are reverence for the Holy, pride for the culture, respect for the Elders, love for peace, hospitality, and passion for learning.
Rea Ann Landusan, a student of the Eco-Tourism specialization program led her class, as she was awarded with Best in Tourism Ethics and Service Excellence Award, and the Best in Community-Based Eco-Tourism Planning and Management Award. She also shared the Best in Praxis Award with Hurryle James Padilla. Landusan was also the recipient of the special Sbù Award, an award given to outstanding students who are well-versed in the Tboli’s rich culture and heritage.
Awards were also given to Livelihood Management students for their outstanding skills. Jessievel Fungan was given the Fu Dalu awards for her skills in Tnalak weaving. Mailyn Blabad was the recipient of the Fandi Award for loom weaving. The Mesif Award for excellence in embroidery was given to Jessabel Alie. The Myangu Award was given to Romel Dewey for his skills in woodcarving. He also shared the Ginton Award for brass casting with Elmer Langan.
Aside from being the graduates of the Philippines’ first senior high school for indigenous peoples, the TSSHS graduates are also among the first senior high school graduates in the country.
The Tboli Sbù Senior High School is the product of a joint undertaking of the Tboli community of the Municipality of Lake Sebu, the Department of Education (DepEd), and Ateneo de Davao University (ADDU). Initiated by the former Education Secretary Br. Armin Luistro, FSC, and Fr. Joel E. Tabora, SJ, of ADDU, TSSHS was inaugurated last May 19, 2015. In this exemplary public-private partnership, ADDU facilitated the community preparations, curriculum development, teacher training and mentoring, and technical assistance in program implementation, while DepEd provided the program’s administrative, structural, and logistical needs.
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