Higher-degree research being undertaken by Jonamari Kristin Floresta




Dr Alex McCormick and Dr Elizabeth Cassity

Thesis title:

The Influences of schools and communities on the identities and pathways of the subaltern students who experience war in the Southern Philippines’ Mindanao



Project description

Guided by the precepts of phenomenology, post-colonial perspectives and Herbert Kelman’s idea of legitimate authority, the current research seeks to better understand how schools and the communities influence the pathways and identities of students in Mindanao who have experience armed-conflict. In this context, these students are considered the ‘subaltern’ (Spivak, 1994) as they are most affected by conflict and imposed educational strategies are unreflective of their own culture and identity (Milligan, 2003). Focus group discussions with art-based activities and in-depth interviews were used to gather data from current secondary students and former students who have transitioned from school to community.

The findings of this current research found that social interactions, religious doctrines and practices inside the school environment contribute to the influence on students’ identity towards peacebuilding, insurgency, or neutral involvement with conflict. Further, the influences from the community can either support or contradict these influences. The study shows that schools can be of aid for their students to cope with the demands and barriers from the conflict-ridden community. However, not all schools are adequately equipped and informed to cater to the needs of these subaltern students.

Jonamari Kristin Floresta was the vice principal of a private high school in the Philippines for five years. She completed her master’s degree in Education, major in Educational Administration in the year 2014 at Ateneo de Davao University. She has very recently submitted her thesis and will return to her vice principal position in the Philippines later this year.

Apart from working as a casual tutor in the University of Sydney, Jonamari is an enthusiastic entrepreneur and a children’s book author. She has written two children’s book entitled, ‘The Talkative Frog’ and ‘Somebody is Eating the Chocolate Hills’.


  • First-runner up in the Three Minute Thesis Competition, Faculty Heat (2018)
  • New Scholar Award, The Oceania International Education Society, Noumea, New Caledonia (2017)
  • Thomas T. Robert Education Fellowship, University of Sydney (2017)

Conference presentations

  • Floresta, J.K. (2018). ‘Guide me through the war: Education needs of the subaltern students who experience war in Mindanao’. Paper presented at the . Wellington, New Zealand. 19-21 November 2018.
  • Floresta, J.K. (2017). ‘Education for children under war in Mindanao: The influences of schools on students’ identity formation as future members of the community’. Paper presented at the OCIES Conference. Noumea, New Caledonia. 8-10 November 2017 .
  • Floresta, J.K. (2017) ‘Education for students under war in Mindanao: Hearing their experiences in schooling and how this affects their future roles’. Paper presented at the International Education for Sustainable Alliance (INTESDA) - SHAPE conference. Nagasaki, Japan. 9-11 August 2017.
  • Floresta, J.K. ‘Schooling’s Influence On the Future Roles of Students in Mindanao Who Have Experienced War’. Paper presented at the OCIES Conference. Sydney, Australia. 24-26 November 2016.