It all started with an informal conversation over breakfast with Department of Education (DepEd) Undersecretary Alberto T. Muyot when he visited Ifugao in March 2012.
Knowing that one of the primary concerns of then Education Secretary Br. Armin Luistro FSC was the institutionalization of Indigenous Knowledge Schools in indigenous communities, Mr. Baltazar Nawew, then principal of Gohang National High School (GNHS), asked one of the staffs of Undersecretary Muyot during a breakfast hosted by SDO-Ifugao if he could have an audience with the undersecretary for a possible establishment of an Indigenous Knowledge School.
When Nawew was given the chance to speak with the Usec. Muyot, he immediately proposed that his school be an Indigenous Knowledge School since all the students belong to indigenous tribes. Undersecretary Muyot immediately approved the proposal naming the school “Gohang National High School: School for the Conservation of the Ifugao Rice Terraces”. Then, on March 24, 2012, then Secretary Luistro graced the launching of the Special High School Curriculum.
Unfortunately, due to the exigency of service, Mr. Nawew was transferred to another school. The following School Year (SY) 2012 - 2013, Ms. Eunice Ann Puguon took his place as the new principal of Gohang National High School.
“It was a great challenge to start a school for Indigenous Knowledge with nothing but the personal knowledge of the teachers and the extensive help of the community. It is from these and some researches that we were able to construct the general curriculum framework of the school,” said Ms. Puguon.
According to her, SY 2012-2013 was a very crucial year for the school since there were no indigenous learning materials and teacher guides were still unavailable. The teachers relied heavily on their own skills, knowledge and the community’s actual performances in the rice planting cycle.
For three years, the teachers, administrators and students undergone stages of trainings, experiential learnings through immersion and on-site learnings. This was supported by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and granted the school USD26,000.00 in 2013.
Today, the current administration of Gohang National High School is reaping the fruits of the project.
“I am happy that the efforts of the school administrators, past and present, the teachers and the stakeholders in teaching the students of the indigenous knowledge of rice culture are now apparent among the students. The integration of the practices of the rice terraces culture paved way to a deeper understanding and appreciation of indigenous knowledge and skills among our students,” said Dr. Brenda Ducusin, the current School Head of GNHS.
Although the school is still in need of technical as well as financial assistance, it still pursues its major activities as embedded in its curriculum framework.
Gohang National High School is located at Banaue, Ifugao where one can find one of the most prominent cultural heritage sites in the country--the Banaue Rice Terraces. It is said that if the rice paddies of these rice fields are joint together, it would encircle half of the globe.