Sunday, June 27, 2010

eSkwela: Inspiring education for the differently abled

originally posted on by Melody (20 Nov 2009)
With no school sufficiently prepared to accept a student with muscular
dystrophy, Phil Ray Neri absorbed everything he can from his first teacher, his mother. At nine years old, he began to read and dreamt of going to school one day. His disability never hindered him from pursuing an education and a normal student life.

Now, the boy who was once deprived of education is already taking up Bachelor of Science in Information Technology (BSIT) at the Mindanao University of Science and Technology (formerly Mindanao Polytechnic State College) through a scholarship grant from Congressman Rufus B. Rodriguez.

Phil Ray Neri shared this and more to the participants of the eSkwela session during the recently concluded Cagayan de Oro leg of Convergence 2009 last November 12-13, 2009.

Phil Ray got his elementary credentials from the Individualized Curriculum for Educating Children with disability (ICEC), a curriculum established and developed by his mother and his doctor, Dr. Enrique Ampo in Cagayan de Oro Public Library with the approval of former city mayor Hon. Vicente Emano.

In 2005, he obtained an elementary graduate certification after passing the Department of Education’s Accreditation and Equivalency (A&E) examination. At eleven years old, he officially enrolled under the Commission on ICT-DepEd eSkwela Program. Two months later, all his hard work paid off as he passed both his high school screening and the A&E exam for high school, making history as the first differently abled student to have taken and passed both exams in Cagayan de Oro City.

Now a college freshman, Phil Ray looks back and encourages other learners to dream big. “Believe in miracles because our faith and hopes keep us going with our daily lives,” he concludes.

Through his story, Phil Ray hopes to inspire people to their fullest potential, believing that in eSkwela, everything is possible.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mobile teacher Marlyn Lozada: Unlocking Potentials of the Deprived

“Alternative Learning System opens doors of opportunity and helps transform lives especially for the deprived.”

This is according to 33-year old Marlyn Lozada who has been a mobile teacher in Bay, Liliw and Luisiana, Laguna for seven years and one of the Most Outstanding Mobile Teachers of 2008. Aside from mentoring learners who had to stop schooling because of work, she also teaches those who have experienced some form of abuse and others who are differently-able.

A case in point, a learner who suffered from medicine overdose as a child had to stop schooling when the parents deemed he would not learn anyway.

These students require one-on-one teaching. She observed, “At first, they were not very responsive but, when they see you are committed and that you value their progress, they also begin to give importance to their education. Eventually, their parents also offer their support.”

For Lozada, being a mobile teacher is a case of serendipity. Armed with a Psychology degree, she started as a daycare teacher. She took on the job when the one who was hired backed out. “I wasn’t prepared but then the timing was just right as a national assembly in Baguio was about to take place. There I was trained and was enlightened.”

Education Secretary Jesli Lapus affirmed, “Today’s heroes come in the person of our mobile teachers who reach out to otherwise inaccessible learners.

According to Lapus, the country’s non-traditional teachers such as Lozada brave difficult circumstances to bring education to out-of-school children, youth, and adults in the country’s most remote places.

Our mobile teachers will bring us closer to meeting our Education for All (EFA) goals,” Lapus stressed.

Lozada said, “We teach out-of-school youth (OSYs) and those who do not know how to read or write. But you cannot group them because they do not have the same skills and may make one group insecure. You also have to know their interests and use them to stimulate learning.”

She explained that mobile teachers have to adjust their teaching sessions depending on the schedule of learners. “In case of the mothers, our mentoring starts after they cook lunch.”

She also learned to be creative, resourceful, and able to convince and get everyone in the community to help out in the advocacy.

The community she serves is engaged primarily in agriculture while others are in the business of weaving pandan leaves into mats. So I teach in a storage area (bodega), which I call Project Mat. She told the business owner about the advocacy and he allowed her to teach the workers in three hours, two or three times a week. “Sometimes these OSYs have to go to Region I to transport their products so we only meet twice.”

“Though we cannot provide for their livelihood, we open their eyes to what they can become if they take seriously the government’s education outreach program.”

She said she takes time to explain to her learners that education can help them not only improve their income but open better opportunities they never thought existed.

She recalled, “Before, we have to look for our learners but these days, we get more support from the barangay. They recommend community residents who need education whom we welcome into our fold,”

We appreciate the barangay for helping is in community-mapping, in providing venues and ensuring our security.

Meanwhile, one local church also allowed her to use their area for her teaching.

The support of the community and the determination of the OSYs to learn have been overwhelming.

Her supervisor admitted to her that she thought Lozada wouldn’t last long in the job. “But, when she made a surprise visit, I think she saw my commitment and how seriously I do my work.”

Usually, this is a job for men as it requires mobility. In Laguna, for instance, there are 14 mobile teachers and only three are female. Armed with her modules and instructional materials, she rides a motorbike daily to be in her work assignment located far apart in the province.

Her next challenge

“One more year,” that’s what she would say to her husband whenever he would insist that she finds another job.

But there seems to be no stopping Lozada, who manages to raise two children, 11 and 14 years old, while regularly attending to her learners.

“Before they were always upset that I have to leave them but these days, they know my cause and they approve of it.”

The challenge is to get more learners to pass the DepEd’s Accreditation and Equivalency Test and be of help in developing learning modules which can be used by other teachers. She cited her recent work “Ang Aming Gawain,” which is about the role of each member of the family but also teaches basic literacy.

Her motivation comes from the learners themselves, seeing them learn and develop their potentials. The Bureau of Alternative Learning System (BALS), she said, is also very supportive, offering timely and relevant training and providing her very useful educational tools.

“My mission in life is to serve God and other people,” she explained. “Ang Diyos ay makatarungan -- God sees what we do even if at times others do not appreciate or do not even seem to notice.

Source: DepEd, December 15, 2009
For more information, please contact Director Carolina Guerrero of the
Bureau of Alternative Learning System (BALS) at 635-5188.