The Ifugao Community Heritage Galleries

The Ifugao Indigenous Peoples Education Center was created out of the sheer need to include Ifugao heritage literacy in Ifugao schools in the mainstream educational system. In 2006 the Save the Ifugao Terraces Movement embarked on an ambitious project to integrate indigenous knowledge systems and practices into the formal education system of Ifugao. Labeled Nurturing Indigenous Knowledge Experts among the Younger Generations of Ifugao, the project aimed to train teachers and develop modules on indigenous knowledge systems and practices for use in different grade levels. It should be noted that at this point that the curricula cannot be modified to include all the different subjects pertaining to Ifugao culture, indigenous knowledge systems, and practices.

The difficulty lies in the policies of the Department of Education, which prescribe that the national curriculum must be strictly adhered to. Only bits and pieces of local culture can therefore be included in the curricula of different schools. In history lessons, for instance, Ifugao children are taught about the history of the Philippines without mention of the role their ancestors played during the formative years of the Philippine nation.

The center is an important venue to educate Ifugao youth about the importance of their culture and to strengthen their weakening comprehension of traditional knowledge systems, practices, and community values. While the national education system is now shifting toward recognition of the history, traditional knowledge, and institutions of indigenous peoples, the question remains how to make this part of the formal education system. This requires much more than writing new textbooks and manuals. To educate young people about their culture requires empowering community elders and other keepers of indigenous culture to actively participate in the documentation and passing down of knowledge using tools of contemporary pedagogy. The center aspires to bring together students and keepers of indigenous culture, taking into consideration generational differences in education and knowledge transfer. It also serves as a repository of material culture artifacts that have been relegated to disuse by modern technology.