We believe that education is the solution to many problems that communities face in the long term.
We had a clear view of our social responsibility to the island villages from the very start. Education for young children was the first community project set up by Tao. Our good relationship with the communities began by creating a discussion between with islands families about how best we can help each other.
Government Schools are set up only in big villages or towns with the highest concentration of people. Children from smaller villages have to travel by foot or by boat to attend school. This means that some families cannot send young children to daycare or pre-school aged 4-7 as they are too young to travel without their parents who work most of the day. These children mostly start to attend classes at the age of 8 or older as they can fend for themselves or go with their older siblings. This gives them less confidence as they are the oldest in class and behind with reading and writing – these children are less likely to finish primary education.
Tao set up several learning centers in remote villages where families close by can easily send their youngsters. These learning centers are open for any children of any age, giving them the chance to learn and catch up with the curriculum until they are ready to move to the government schools.
Setting up a center is not easy. First, we have to assess the location and how many families will benefit. Secondly, finding a teacher from an area where most did not attain higher education is difficult and it is important that the teacher is actually from the community and has the skills to live in such a remote area. We were lucky to find a retired schoolteacher on Daracuton Island, our first Tao learning center. Five years ago teacher Cristita agreed to set up the school for us with her experience and knowledge of the curriculum, she became our guide and a tutor for the other mothers who we selected to become teachers. This led to the setting up of other learning centers. Tao has now been involved in the building of five other schools in remote areas of Culion, Linapacan and El Nido and continues to supply, train and monitor these learning centers.
Our most recent project is a bamboo school on Cabuli Island built by the Tao bamboo carpentry team alongside the parents.
After graduating high school Tao offers talented students full scholarships to university and colleges in Palawan and Manila.