Decisión del Comité intergubernamental: 16.COM 8.C.5

The Committee

  1. Takes note that the Philippines have proposed The School of Living Traditions (SLT) (no. 01739) for selection and promotion by the Committee as a programme, project or activity best reflecting the principles and objectives of the Convention:

In 1995, the Sub-commission on Cultural Communities and Traditional Arts of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) – the lead agency mandated to preserve, promote and develop Philippine culture and the arts – affirmed the need to safeguard traditional knowledge and practices from rapid cultural devaluation brought about by media, tourism, formal education and religion. This paved the way for the creation of The School of Living Traditions (SLT) programme, involving informal, community-managed learning centres where practitioners can transmit their communities’ knowledge, intangible cultural heritage, skills and values to younger generations. The identification of priorities for safeguarding was led by elders, leaders and other members of communities through a series of consultations. In the process, the NCCA provided capacity-building assistance for the mobilization of logistics and other resources needed to establish the learning centres. The SLT programme aims to develop, implement and evaluate community-based measures to safeguard vital traditional cultural knowledge and practices from the potential negative effects of modernization. In 2015, the NCCA initiated the enhancement of the SLT programme. This entails the implementation of site-specific five-year community development programmes to support the transmission and viability of intangible cultural heritage in partnership with local communities and organizations.

  1. Considers that, from the information included in the file, the programme responds as follows to the criteria for selection as a good safeguarding practice in paragraph 7 of the Operational Directives:

P.1:  The School of Living Traditions (SLT) involves community-managed non-formal education centres that utilize bearers and practitioners to transmit the related knowledge and skills to younger generations. Each SLT is supported by the collaboration of a Council of Elders and Leaders and a local coordinating team who work to identity, inventory and transmit elements of intangible cultural heritage. This is principally achieved through learning-by-doing techniques and the promotion of elements through exhibits, fairs, lectures and festivals.

P.2:  The SLT programme coordinates efforts to safeguard intangible cultural heritage at the national, sub-regional, regional and international levels. It is implemented at the national level by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, in partnership and consultation with relevant cultural masters, local communities and their leaders. At the regional level, the SLT programme has worked with different Category 2 Centres under the auspices of UNESCO, including the International Research Center for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region (IRCI) and the International Information and Networking Center for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region (ICHCAP).

P.3:  The programme is fully in line with the objectives and principles of the Convention in its design, conception and implementation. Some formal schools have integrated aspects of the programme into the curriculum of the Indigenous People’s Education and Alternative Learning System, as Article 14(a)(ii) of the Convention on developing specific educational and training programmes within the communities and groups concerned. The development of inventories with the full involvement of the cultural masters and bearers concerned is aligned with Article 12 of the Convention on inventories. Similarly, the work of the SLTs is informed by and implemented by the communities themselves, reflecting Article 15 of the Convention on community participation. Articles 1, 11, 13 and 14 are also accounted for through the SLT programme.

P.4:  The programme demonstrates its effectiveness in contributing to the viability of the intangible cultural heritage concerned in terms of six indicators, namely: i) the transmission of eighty-four elements across twenty-eight schools, ii) the training of 2,100 youth, iii) the revitalization of elements, iv) community and partner buy-in, v) site visits and research, and vi) the proposed establishment of satellite SLTs for wider community involvement.

P.5:  The SLT programme is a community-based initiative that is done in collaboration with local government. Community leaders pass resolutions that approve the setup and utilization of community spaces to construct SLT centres and participate in formulating a five-year strategic plan. This process involves men, women and youth, including through discussions on identifying what elements to prioritize in the programme. Capacity building, monitoring, reporting, and evaluation are conducted with the active participation of local communities and practitioners. The file demonstrates wide community participation, and establishes their free, prior and informed consent in various ways according to the different social contexts.

P.6:  The programme can serve as a sub-regional and international model for safeguarding activities. The programme involves a community-developed and managed teaching and learning process, which is guided by the customary laws of the communities concerned. As such, this approach may be particularly instructive for countries who work closely with indigenous peoples. Learning modules are contextualized and do not follow a strict framework but are taught and guided by cultural masters or elders recognized and respected by their communities. Transmission of indigenous knowledge systems and practices through non-formal methods, encourages apprenticeship of younger generations. Such modes can also be promoted in formal education systems. The programme is a multi-sectoral initiative and relies on a cross-section of actors, including academia, state entities, civil society organizations and the communities themselves.

P.7:  The submitting State considers the consent letters and consultation process as proof of their collective willingness to cooperate in the dissemination of good safeguarding practices. The file explains that communities have already participated in awareness-raising activities and the dissemination of information on safeguarding measures, as well as participating in festivals, lectures and demonstrations. SLTs share good safeguarding practices through the publication of modules and are financially and technically supported by the National Council of Culture and Arts.

P.8:  Since their launch in 1995, the National Commission of Arts and Culture Program Monitoring and Evaluation Division (PMED) regularly conducts assessments on the implementation of SLT programmes and activities. This includes an annual evaluation, regular surveys, focus groups and planning activities. Based on these evaluations, the SLT programme was strengthened in 2015 and updated to better respond to the current context and challenges.

P.9:  The file demonstrates the ability of the programme to act as a model for safeguarding activities and respond to the needs of developing countries, particularly those with indigenous communities. The SLT programme can be considered a cost-effective model that is responsive to local circumstances and may help developing countries grappling with the effects of globalization on their cultural heritage. The programme prioritizes communities as the primary actors and beneficiaries of the programme, and can serve as a model to promote creativity, dialogue and sustainable development based on the needs of communities first and foremost.

  1. Decides to select The School of Living Traditions (SLT) as a programme, project or activity best reflecting the principles and objectives of the Convention;
  2. Commends the State Party on the submission of a well-prepared file which reflects the spirit of the Convention and places great emphasis on the central role of communities, groups and individuals, and in particular indigenous communities, in safeguarding their intangible cultural heritage.