Helping Children Develop

We're here to improve education of disadvantaged young people in the Philippines.

The Making of a School

The first batch of 52 students at the beginning of school year 2005.

The first batch of 52 students at the beginning of school year 2005.

"Education is not filling a bucket, but lighting a fire.” This is what the great Irish poet, William Yeats believed in. And if education is lighting a fire, there should be a great effort, a massive action. There must be friction.

For the Filipino youth, education is by far the strongest weapon in the battle against poverty and mediocrity. But even the basics of education are not within reach in most parts of the country. Although the government has its own initiatives in performing its role in making free education accessible across the islands, the non-government sectors and individuals are striving and struggling to take this concern with their time, talent, and treasure.

Ms. Baby Manlises, a resident of Pinamalayan, Oriental Mindoro has donated a piece of land in the village of Calingag where she envisioned a school to be raised. The town of Pinamalayan has several schools (private and public) who accommodate youths from preparatory to collegiate level like the Immaculate Heart of Mary Academy, Abada College, Easter Mindoro Institute of Technology and Sciences and Nabuslot National High School. The latter could no longer accommodate high school students in its limited classroom size.

Currently, a classroom holds 60 students. Most parents cannot send their children to private schools , or worse, even to public schools. With farming and fishing as their primary source of income, books, tuition fees, computers and other educational aids simply exceeds what a normal household can afford.

Though it is true that learning does not only reside inside the classroom, still, it is the right of every Filipino child to be given quality education to provide them the necessary skills in tapping their own talents and potentials and contribute to the solution of this world’s problems.

As a graduate in one of Pinamalayan’s schools, going back to share and to spark fire in the minds of the youth is but an honour. And so on July 18, I stepped on board led by four other members of the Young Adults Ministry  (YAM) – Our Lady of the Pillar Parish of Las Piñas and crossed the sea to the southern island of Oriental Mindoro upon hearing SIKAT’s mission in the formation of youth through formal education. The YAM team includes Gerard Paul Elviña, Rachel Rebucas, Gladys Ayap and Kyra Javier with the assistance of Baby Manlises.

What greeted us that Sunday morning in Calingag was a bamboo classroom standing in the middle of tall mahogany trees. The path was solid earth and the flag pole was made of bamboo as well. Inside the classroom were a chairs enough only for twenty students, a few books for reference, and one blackboard. This is where the sophomore class holds its everyday activities. The freshmen hold its class on a tent. It was not pity that I felt because self-pity is not what these students should feel but injustice.

Sixteen students from both freshman and sophomore levels arrived that day for the School Visit. The YAM team’s goal was to establish a brotherhood and create an open atmosphere for the students so they may be able to speak up and stand for what they believe they should have. Also, the team needed to get specific information and profiles of the students to provide their immediate needs, in arming them with the right skills as high school students. The whole team sat on the earth under the trees with the students and encouraged them to share their thoughts and feelings about their schooling.  RJ, a 2nd year student, wished for a concrete classroom so they would not have to use their umbrellas when it is raining. Homer and Philip wished for chairs so they don’t have to bring their own. Jennelyn, sophomore and first-honor student, shared that they only rely on the teacher’s text book and that books are their immediate needs. During the interviews, some students also wished to have a computer class which is not being taught. The team also encouraged them to share their plans after high school and their interests wherein some of them openly said that they wants to specialize in audio engineering which, coincidentally, is the expertise of YAM’s Gerard. The team’s photographer, Gerard, shared his own efforts and sacrifices as a student and that as youth, they must feel hopeful. Rachel, YAM team’s Outreach Head, also spoke to the students about knowing what they want and working hard for it.

These students are not to be pitied. Rather, they are to be guided. For they have the potential, armed with their innate gifts and talents given by God. They do not need speeches and promises but actions coming from hearts burning with the desire to see them become their best for the glory of God. They do not need to feel helpless; they should be empowered for they are accountable for their future.

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