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April 29, 2016

‘Bayanihan’ as a model for BSM’s service learning

The British School Manila is justifiably proud of its commitment to service learning. The idea of developing students as global citizens is central to our vision and mission. We are looking for our students to leave us with skills that allow them to make sense of a rapidly changing world whilst also being able to contribute to making their world more peaceful, fair and sustainable. 

The Creativity Activity Service (CAS) programme is an integral part of the International Baccalaureate core programme and is in many ways the perfect realisation of the work we do with our older students. Our International Baccalaureate team recently completed the end of course CAS interviews with the current Year 13 cohort and it was clear to us that it was the service learning experiences that had the most resonance and impact upon the students’: personal, social, emotional and even moral development. The Year 13 students spoke eloquently and thoughtfully about their work with local schools, orphanages and hospitals. They talked about the work they had done, the relationships they had formed and ethical implications of the work that they were undertaking. The depth of reflection in evidence was confirmed by how often the discussions centred on poverty, inequality and individual responsibility.

This year we have had the opportunity to remodel the CAS programme to create more of these moments of epiphany. Our new approach, led expertly by Mr. Owen, is called “Bayanihan” from the Filipino word ‘bayan,’ which captures the spirit of community we see in Filipino culture and which we seek to mirror. The students have been encouraged to develop projects in line with their own passions and interests within broad categories such as ‘Health’, ‘Environment’ and ‘Education’. 

The strategic developments this year were framed following a successful and insightful pilot last year led by Mr. Owen in Tagaytay. This venture presented a group of IB Business Management students with a problem - ‘How can they use their business acumen to help develop a sustainable income for a group of 16 mothers’? It was a privilege to observe how the students worked together to empower a group of local women with great ideas to become successful entrepreneurs.

The projects this year are incredibly diverse. We have groups preparing “baby boxes” for maternity hospitals, building chicken coops, certifying language skills for adult learners, developing hydroponics systems and fixing computers to improve education in a community. The projects have many layers, with strong educational themes and all the projects focus on sustainability and the fostering of partnerships which we hope will be nurtured and maintained beyond CAS week in May.

One distinctive feature of the Bayanihan projects this year is the emphasis on independence; the projects will have staff mentors available but our students will be encouraged to take ownership, make decisions, assess risks and manage uncertainty as groups. This takes us back to our BSM vision and mission; these experiences will equip our IB students with the ability to reflect, to be resilient in adversity and to thrive with challenge. We look forward to sharing the outcomes with you later in the year. Written by Chris Jones, Secondary Deputy Head

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