Humanities, the state competition was aimed at fostering critical thinking skills and developing citizenship through the study of history. This year’s theme was “Revolutions, Reactions, and Reforms in History.”
The Waipahu students’ exhibit“Education Reform in the Philippines: Thomasites to the Rescue!”placed first in the state competition and showed the positive impact that American education reform had in U.S.-Philippine relations.
The three studentsAndrea Jurado, Charlyn Manuyag and Frances Cabudilspent many hours researching and refining their topic. Their hard work has certainly paid off. As state winners, they will be traveling to the mainland in June for the national competition at the University of Maryland.
They chose the topic of Education Reform in the Philippines because they wanted to know more about their ethnic history and about American influences on the Philippines.
“We wondered why a lot of Filipinos in Hawaii were unaware of the American influence on Philippine education,” says Jurado. “Most people we spoke with didn’t know about the Thomasites and Pensionados. We wanted to spark awareness to all Filipinos about their existence because the Thomasites and Pensionados clearly made Filipinos globally competitive today. Without them, many Filipinos may not have learned the English language.”
All three students experienced Philippine education first-hand. But when it comes to choosing between a Philippine or American high school education, all three prefer the Philippines’ system.
“To me, the Philippines’ curriculum is way more challenging than here,” says Cabudil, whose family moved to Hawaii in December 2008. “Back home, we have longer school hours and more required subjects per school year.”
According to Manuyag, who was born in Hawaii but raised in the Philippines, technology is what sets America’s educational system apart from other countries.
“Schools here have advances in technology, equipment and school materials, compared to the Philippines,” she says. “America has a big advantage to enhance the students’ learning.”
Despite the advantages of the U.S. educational system, Manuyag, who attended a private school while in the Philippines, agrees that the Philippines’ educational system is more challenging.
The students are looking forward to representing Hawaii and the Philippines at the national competition, as well as sharing their ethnic history. Two of them have never traveled to the mainland.
However, due to drastic federal cuts to the Hawaii Council for the Humanities, the students will have to pay their expenses to get to the national competition.
“I’m hoping that Filipino businesses and organizations will help send these deserving students to the national competition,” says Emelda Keola, Waipahu’s history teacher. “With support from the Filipino community, they will compete at the national level and be exposed to experiences that will push them to reach their highest potential. I can assure you that investing in these students will reap its dividends. They will use their talents to give back and make a positive difference in the community.”
Keola also described the three girls as “model students” who are “very hard working, responsible and possess a genuine curiosity for learning” and who “always do more than what is expected.”
“All three of them migrated from the Philippines. They also give of their time in doing service for the community,” she says.
If you would like to help sponsor these students, please call Keola at 382-9555. The students would surely appreciate any assistance from the Filipino community.
“If our group competes at the National level, I’m certain that my parents and all my teachers at Waipahu High School will be proud,” Jurado says. “We guarantee that we will do our best to represent our school and our state.”
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