The concept of a ‘merits store’ where students can exchange ‘study points’ for school supplies and other products gains more traction in the province as a community of the indigenous group Batak in Sitio Tagnipa, Barangay Tinitian Roxas, Palawan shows more patronage for the project. Launched in 2003 by a religious school focusing on Indigenous People (IP), the ‘Merits Store’ in Roxas, which was conceptualized to encourage students to appreciate the hard work needed in acquiring valuables, has been officially adopted by the Department Education and is now converted into Balaya Paadalan Kat Katutubo Elementary School.
Shyne dela Cruz, alumna and now a teacher in the said school, had the concept broken down for Palawan News: under the Merits Store project, every good deed or good performance in school allows a student to earn corresponding points or merits.The merits serve as ‘money’ in exchange for a certain item from a store provided by the school. For example, a student able to memorize a certain Bible verse will earn 10K points, while a student who showed initiative in doing tasks without being told to do so can get 3K points. These points can then be exchanged for items like pitchers (worth 2K points) or some school supplies (worth 300 points).
“Ang nakakatuwa sa mga bata, karamihan ng binibili nila hindi personal, gamit ng nanay o tatay nila…ganyan,” dela Cruz added.
According to Pastor Ricky dela Cruz, School Administrator and the brain behind the project, they originally launched the store to teach students to appreciate more their school supplies, which were initially given for free. “Noon una kasi, binibigay lang namin lahat. Pero napansin namin, halimbawa sa lapis, tasa lang ng tasa ang mga bata, nasasayang tapos manghihingi uli. Kaya naisip namin na kailangan, paghirapan muna nila,” dela Cruz explained.
A few months after implementing the project dela Cruz said they have observed that the students learned to value their belongings better. “Yun nga napansin namin, kahit pudpod na pudpod na mga lapis nila, tinitipid pa rin nila, kasi masasayang ‘yung mga points o merits na pinaghirapan nila,” the pastor added.
Lynette Cayao, a product of the said school, is now a college student and serves as a cashier in the store.
“Nakakatuwa, kasi dati alam ko ‘yung feeling na excited kami makakuha ng points para makapapalit ng gamit, ngayon ako na yung tumutulong mamahala sa store, hindi ko ma-explain yung feeling basta masaya,” she shared.
Pagbelngen Edilberto Madeja, a Batak tribal leader/elder, expressed delight for the said project, and for the existence of the school in general. “Malaking bagay ito, ang school, nakakatulong kasi para mapanatili ang aming matatandang kultura at kaugalian,”
The school caters to students from Kindergarten to Grade IV, currently numbering to around 42 with most coming from the Batak tribal group.
Those who are interested to support the project and would like to extend some donations may contact Pastor dela Cruz at 09479944051.