Whenever people step inside the campus of Tolerance School, they can’t help but admire it. In a rustic environment, there stand the majestic buildings of the school, with its open space and comfortable atmosphere conducive to academic learning. But when did the school start its operation and how did it come into existence?
It was in the early part of 1997 that Mr. Ferhat Dogrutekin, the first school director, came to Zamboanga City and started the operation of the school to be run by Turkish nationals under the banner of Integrative Center for Alternative Development Foundation, Inc. commonly known by its acronym, ICAD, a local non-stock, non-profit foundation based in Manila. Its members are a mixture of Filipino and Turkish nationals headed by Mr. Silay K. Guiamano. The site of the school was a property of the Kiram family. It measures 5.5 hectares located at Pitogo, Sinunuc, Zamboanga City, which is eleven kilometres from the city proper of Zamboanga, known as Asia’s Latin City. It is now owned by Mindanao Moslem Foundation, Inc. headed by Sharif Zain Jali through a deed of donation and was bonded by the Memorandum of Agreement signed by both parties in 1997.
Finally in June of 1997, Filipino-Turkish Tolerance High School was opened with 89 first year students officially enrolled. To assist the director in the supervisory function, Mr. Edris Lim was hired as the first principal. At the beginning , only male students were accepted and the school was purely a boarding one where students stayed the whole school year in the campus, allowed to go home only once a month. As the school was gradually recognized as highly competitive offering high quality education, the clamour of parents to accept female students was finally approved. In the school year 2001-2002, female students were enrolled in first year and boarding for male students was no longer compulsory.
In the school year 2002-2003, the elementary department was opened with pre-school and grades I-IV. Therefore, the name was changed to Filipino-Turkish Tolerance School. It was during the term of the second director, Mr. Hasan Yasar who had served from 2001 to 2003. The principal at the time was Mr. Bendecio Ancheta who had served only for two years. He was then replaced by Mrs. Edwina Araneta. The third director, Mr.Sami Sahinduran, had served from 2003 to 2008 with Mrs. Araneta who continued her service as principal. From 2008 to 2010, the school was under the leadership of the 4th director, Mr. Cihangir Arslan with Mr. Arnel Bartolome as principal. The 5th director was Mr. Mehmet Cetin who had served from 2010 to 2012. Mr. Bartolome continued his service. In the school year 2012-2013, Mr. Abdulhamit Durakoglu was appointed director for the high school department and Mr. Mehmet Biter as director for grade school department. To serve as OIC-principal, the school nurse, Mrs. Maria Irene B. Jacob was given a concurrent function from November, 2011 to March, 2012. In April of 2012, Mr. Mustafa Yasin Ayyildiz was appointed general director. Mr. Rholy Jay Jannalun, an alumnus of this school was also appointed OIC-principal up to April, 2013. For school year 2013-2014, Mr. Mehmet Biter was appointed director for both departments; Mr. Ayyildiz continued his term as general director. A new principal, Mrs. Maria J. Tan, was hired in April, 2013.
Every director had left footprints in the forms of accomplishments, as follows: Mr. Ferhat Dogrutekin initiated the free lunch for employees and teachers and the standardization of teachers’ salaries. He worked for the recognition of the high school department by the DECS in 2001 and introduced IFTAR and KURBAN. Iftar is a fast-breaking dinner held on certain evening during Ramadan which involves the school staff, teachers and students. Kurban or Eid’l Adha is the slaughtering of cows accompanied by prayer and the sharing of beef to the staff, teachers, parents and the less fortunate families of Sinunuc. He offered a Basic Computer Course for administrators and teachers including those from other schools on Sundays and started the Science and Math Odyssey, an inter-school competition for high school students who excelled in science and math. He also started giving scholarship for those who excelled in Math.
Mr. Hasan Yasar had extended the offering of the school through the opening of the pre-school and the elementary grades. He continued the Iftar by involving the city government officials and changed the venue to Family Fried Chicken. For the Kurban, he extended the beef sharing to other barangays. He also continued the Science and Math Festival and the recruitment of scholars for mathematics.
Mr. Sami Sahinduran’s term of five years came up with more visible accomplishments such as the re-evaluation of the salary scale for teachers and staff, the renovation of the administrative offices by replacing the concrete walls with glass, thus giving the ground floor a more sophisticated appearance; the covering of the formation area with pavement blocks which made the entrance to the school buildings more presentable and the construction of the soccer field. He continued the Iftar in school and for government officials at the Family Fried Chicken, and extended the beef sharing to more barangays. The Science and Math Festival was changed to “Math Challenge”. Elementary pupils were included in the math competition. Science Fair was held at Mindpro to give chance for students from other schools to view the projects.
Mr. Cihangir Arslan had served as director for two years. He made the school a beneficiary of FAPE in 2009. The population of students and pupils were increased. He changed the Iftar venue for government officials to one of the known convention hotels in this city. More local and even national officials and heads of offices were invited. Beef sharing was extended to Sulu and Basilan. He continued the free lunch for teachers and staff initiated by his predecessors. Math challenge and other activities were maintained.
Mr. Mehmet Cetin’s term for two years was so fruitful. He worked for the recognition of the elementary level by DepEd in 2008 when he was the director of the elementary department. In 2010, he was the director for both departments, elementary and secondary. He initiated the construction of the canteen and its covered court; separated the library and the registrar’s office and changed the walling to glass; constructed the stage at the formation area and renovated the old dormitory. He started giving scholarship for sports. Iftar was continued in school and at one of the known convention hotels in this city for government officials; beef sharing was extended to Davao, Tawi-Tawi and Sibugay. Math challenge and Science Odyssey were also continued.
During the term of Mr. Abdulhamit Durakoglu and Mr. Mehmet Biter in 2012-2013, the physical improvement projects were placed under the management and supervision of the general director, Mr. Mustafa Yasin Ayyildiz who was able to start the construction of the new dormitory at the third floor of the high school building. Mr. Biter initiated the scholarship for Music and Arts. Iftar and Kurban were continued during Ramadan. Math Challenge and participation of the school in other Math competitions and press conference were continued.
A highly significant event in the existence of the school took place on September 24, 2012 in the International Conference on Peace Building Through Education held at The Times Center in New York, USA which was jointly sponsored by Fountain Magazine, Peace Island Institute, Alliance Shared Values, Yale University, Bruch College, New York Institute of Technology and Quinnipiac University, a Plaque of Recognition was awarded to this school in recognition of extra-ordinary stewardship of friendship and peaceful co-existence, dedication and contributions to peace building through education in an unflagging championship of cultural harmony. The plaque was given to the Secretary of Education, Bro. Armin A. Luistro who attended the conference. Two months later, on November 24, Secretary Luistro came to Zamboanga City to visit this school for the official turnover of the plaque to the general director, Mr. Ayyildiz. The award was unexpected but it made us realize that the school’s vision and mission were nobly achieved on the 15th year of its operation.
Mr. Mehmet Biter’s term as director for both departments started with the acquisition of the playground equipments for preschoolers which served as an attraction to kids and their parents. The utilization of the new dormitory started on the later part of June, 2013. The completion of the roof and ceiling, covering the floor with tiles, renovation of the old rooms and the social hall at the left side of the third floor were the projects for the year. Through the competent financial management of the general director, Mr. Ayyildiz, the projects were completed in August of that same year. Mr. Biter had expanded the curricular offering of the pre-school to include toddlers, nursery and kinder. Likewise, he constructed a mini-swimming pool for the pre-schoolers. He was able to get the approval of DepEd for the school to use the Cambridge Curriculum and trimestral program and change in the dates for the opening and closing of classes starting S.Y. 2014-2015. He improved the school logo by changing the colors of the dove and olive branches; he also changed the arrangement of school’s name surrounding the logo. He updated the school website by posting the articles on monthly celebrations and other activities conducted during the school year 2013-2014. His term was too short but so fruitful and beneficial for the school, faculty and students.
In the S.Y. 2014-2015, FTTS has undergone a significant development through the change of its curriculum from the integration of the Turkish and Philippine curricular practices to a more sophisticated one, the Cambridge Curriculum which gave the school better linkages with other countries that are using the same curriculum. For its implementation, the hiring of teachers was upgraded. Cum laude graduates and dean’s listers were given priority in order to improve the quality of instruction. In addition to the change of curriculum, the grading periods were also changed from quarterly to trimestral. The trimestral program has only three terms or grading periods with more inclusive days for each term; thus, giving the chance for the students to master the lessons for more lasting learning.
School year 2014-2015 is the 17th year of the school’s existence with the leadership of Mr. Zafer Elen as Director. It is still growing stronger in its mission and vision of moulding boys and girls from diversified culture and faith into enlightened citizens with strong values, faith and dedication in helping our nation and the world in minimizing the perceived prejudices, biases, hatred and distrust through tolerance and service.
The facilities for science laboratories (biology, chemistry, physics and earth science), computer laboratory, audio visual, library, clinic, canteen, classrooms, comfort rooms, dormitory and even the landscape and physical buildings of the school are all being renovated every year to cope with the fast changing modern time. Facilities are at par or even more updated than other competitive schools in this city. The goal of the school is to make the students highly competent and competitive to bring honor and prestige not only to Zamboanga City but also nationally and internationally. As our motto says, Filipino-Turkish Tolerance School:” where love, concern, and success meet”. In the Turkish language it runs: SEVGININ, ILGININ VE BASARININ BULUSTUGU YER”.