Sa LikhAral, Parehong Natututo ang mga Guro at Estudyante

ni Ruffame A. Todoc

Hindi ko alam kung ano ang aking naramdaman noong mabigyan kami ng pagkakataon ng Likharal na maranasang maging guro.

Sa LikhAral ay nagturo kami sa mga kabataan tungkol sa Mabuting Balita ng Panginoon. Ipinahahayag namin sa aming mga estudyante ang salita ng Diyos gamit ang Bible verse at story-telling, Kadalasan ay pinapalitan namin ang mga pangalan ng mga tauhan sa mga paborito nilang cartoon character upang maaliw at makuha nila ang improtanteng aral sa kuwento.

Ang pinag-aralan naming children’s song at dance ay mahusay at matagumpay naming naisalin sa kanila. Tinangkilik ito ng mga kabataan.

Ginagawa naming mas kaaya-ayang pakinggan at kaaliw-aliw ang aming pagkukuwento nang sa ganoon ay mas madaling maunawaan ito ng mga bata.

Nagpaplano kami upang hindi nainip ang mga bata at mas lalo silang mag-enjoy. Mayroon ding snacks, na alam naming pinakakaabangan ng mga kabataan.

Kadalasan, kami ang naghahanda at gumagawa ng mga activities, mga arts at mga kuwentong mula sa Bibliya sa nakakaaliw na paraan.

Sa Amado V. Hernandez Elementary School sa Tondo namin ito ginanap.

Ginagawa namin ito upang mapaunlad ang mga kaalaman nila sa mabubuting gawain. Naglalayon ang Likharal na mas malapit sila sa Panginoon at habang bata pa sila ay magkaroon na sila ng kaalaman sa mga magagandang bagay na ginawa ni Jesus.

Nagbibigay kami ng awards bilang pasasalamat sa mga kabataang nagbibigay ng talino at upang ganahan ang mga ito na sumali sa susunod na LikhAral. Sa ganoong paraan mas darami pa ang magkakaroon ng interes sa ginagawa namin.

Naglalaan kami ng apat na oras—alas-8 hanggang alas-12 ng tanghali—sa aming pagtuturo.

Maraming mga kabataan ang dumadalo sa aming pagtuturo at ang sarap ng pakiramdam kapag tinatawag, nayayakap at tinuturing ka nila na tunay nilang guro.

Masaya at excited nila kaming sinasalubong. Gigil na gigil ang mga kabataan na simulan ang aming pagtuturo.

Ngunit hindi lamang sila ang nakikinabang. Ang mga guro nila—kami—ay tunay ring nakikinabang at maraming natututunan.

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The Roller Coaster Ride of Being an ALS Teacher

by Joharrah Eunice Mae Y. Rafanan

 

I had no idea what ALS was. In fact, I didn’t even know what the acronym stood for.

All I remember was that our speaker at a youth camp, an officer of the United Methodist Youth Fellowship, approached me and asked: “Gradweyt ka na, di ba? Gusto mong maging IM?”

That was how I came to be an Instructional Manager (IM) of Alternative Learning System in the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) eight months ago.

I’m telling you, it was a roller-coaster ride!

I was truly excited in discovering the wonders and virtues of ALS. I found out it was a holistic approach to teaching children and youth who otherwise could not avail of formal basic education. I really felt like a superhero, saving all those children from certain doom of poverty and ignorance.

Imagine what these little angels picture me to be when I was the one who actually hand to them free allowances for their school supplies and transportation expenses. Plus, ALS provides them a safe place where they can play and act like children that they are.

Aside from the joy of knowing that I’m helping these children, I also enjoy other things that go with being an IM. Like the love that I feel from them when, last October, they surprised me and my co-IM with a Teachers’ Day Party. They gave me gifts and they even cooked “biko” for me.

It was a real blast!

But being an IM is not exactly all bed of roses. There were struggles. Real ones. The least of my problems was the difficulty of teaching children and youth who have gone from formal education so long that learning became foreign to them. One needs to repeat lessons again and again for the students to learn them. I had to adjust to their capacity. IMs. Indeed, need patience. Lots of them.

Being an IM is more than being a teacher, I remember my friend telling me that people “don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  And I am in a perfect place of meeting people from different walks of life who have different stories to tell. I observed that, at their young age, the ALS students are already carrying the burden of earning for their respective families.

Jane, a student of mine, was sexually abused while staying at her employer’s house.  There’s another. JP, 12, doesn’t know how to read and write but he is good at computation since he is a vegetable vendor.   Rhianne, a hardworking student, has been working in canteens since she could remember. She grew up providing for herself.

They are all ALS students, they all have dreams, they all have capabilities but the urgent need to earn money hinders them from attending our classes.

How can you think of graduating from school when you don’t have food to eat?  How can you convince them to stay and finish the ALS program when their families are hungry? You cannot educate a student with an empty stomach.

Important as they are, these concerns are secular. Others may scoff at me, but I am more concerned about their spiritual well-being.

If I have my way, I would certainly like them to attend our care group sessions regularly.  Why? Because these sessions, although they may not change their life-situations, the care group sessions can certainly change the way they look at their lives. That’s a lot, if you ask me.

Free dinner aside, care group is a wonderful emotional support for any person. And there are other similar activities that could help students grow spiritually. For example, the KKFI has this activity called YLEAD or Youth Leadership, Educate and Advocate for Development.  It aims to train leaders to go and help their respective communities.

With all the ups and downs of being an IM, why do I love it so much? One of the many reasons is Zennie.

Zennie is a shy 18-year-old who couldn’t hurt a fly.  She was like an unborn chick too afraid to come out of her shell. But since I was able to develop an emotional bond with her, she began to open up and stepping out of her guarded comfort zone. That’s when she started discovering her potential.

Zennie is a gifted poet. She was as surprised as I was when she realized it. Her confidence grew and along that her circle of friends. Now, she is one of the most adored students in her batch.

Children like Zennie made me love my job. If you have your own “Zennie,” wouldn’t you love to be an IM, too?

 

From Battle Scars to Glorious Stars

by Larren Jo N. Basilio

 

“There will be an ALS exam on October 2016,” it was announced; but it did not take place. It was postponed to March 2017. Later on the exam was moved to April, then July, August, September and October. It finally took place in November 2017.

“There will be an ALS exam on October 2016,” it was announced; but it did not take place. It was postponed to March 2017. Later on the exam was moved to April, then July, August, September and October. It finally took place in November 2017. One can imagine the anxiety the members of the unfortunate batch of Alternative Learning System (ALS) suffered throughout those eight postponements, which spanned two long years. The waiting period usually takes five months, 10 at most.

ALS is a government initiative that aims to help overaged out-of-school youth (OSY) accelerate to 7th grade or 11th grade. A number of KKFI scholars have passed those exams and are now studying in formal school set-up.

Past ALS exams included 50% of multiple choice tests from five learning strands and the other 50% is comprised of essay exams. The passing score for multiple choice exam was 75% and you need to get at least a score of 3 out of the possible perfect score of 5 in order to pass the essay exam. But the most recent one was different. Without consulting the stakeholders, DepEd changed the rules.

There still was the 50% multiple choice exam but, in lieu of the essay exams, the students were made to submit their “portfolios.” This “portfolio” should include 50 essays, 50 answered modules, exams and quizzes, pictures of families and other information about the learner, projects with essays, livelihood seminars or trainings, and arts and crafts.

We were given only two weeks to complete the portfolios, including their required trainings. The alteration totally caught everyone off guard. Some learners had to quit their all-important part-time jobs to spend sleepless nights to prepare their portfolios. It was a total risk on the learners’ part. Their families scolded them for over-extending their studies, aside from the unending requirements, dates and deadlines that tested their patience and purses.

Since most of them came from urban poor communities and broken families, it was a difficult, tumultuous and expensive journey. They were mocked. Their confidence withered. The postponements brought anxiety to a lot of learners. Many experienced depression and some even became suicidal. A number quit altogether but some plodded on.

Finally, 63 learners from Batches 3 and 4 took the exam. The excitement turned to frustration when they found out that the actual exam was totally different from the DepEd-issued reviewers they were required to study.

We, the instructional managers, were speechless with shock. Only one among the 63 passed when the results were announced last February. On the national scale, the passing rate dropped from 55% to less than 10%. Where did things go wrong?

Unexpected things happened, like when the policies were changed mid-stream without consultation; the portfolios, it turned out, had no bearing on the results, of the test questions 50% came from the formal education curriculum, such as math and science; the ALS students were all along taught in Filipino and asked test questions in the mother tongue, but the ALS exam questions were written in English, and the passing score for ALS remained at 75% while that of the formal education was at 50%. There were protests and petitions online demanding that the passing score for ALS exam be changed to 60%.

“Na-train kami bilang isang atleta pero sinabak kami sa giyera,” a learner quipped. But there was no time for moaning for we only had two weeks to prepare for another exam, which was set in February 2018. The DepEd released the topics for the next ALS exam.

To our surprise, the topics were way different from the ALS curriculum. Higher percentage of the learning strands were totally different from original announcement and prescribed reviewers. And there was not enough time to study them.

We had to scramble for the next two weeks, although we knew it was not enough. Three days before the exam, a light came that brightened the dream of every ALS learner. The DepEd granted the request to lower the passing mark for ALS exam to 60%.

Needless to say, we were overjoyed. We have 24 ALS passers as of posting time. The star starts to illumine and the joy is uncontainable. With this rejuvenated spirits, 25 learners retook the exam last February. They may expect the results to be announced two months after. It is still a long way before the end of the journey, but they know the destination is reachable. They still need to master the subject-verb agreement, the difference between planets and stars and other subjects but they learned so much more. They learned how to be patient in real life, to never surrender, to strive and to keep stoking the fire because success can be just around the corner.

No one guaranteed anybody that they would not suffer scars when they journey in life. But one is assured that, if one will display patience and determination, he or she will enjoy the illumination of the stars for the rest of his or her life.

NEVER TOO YOUNG TO LEAD

by Rex M. Dayao

 

I was on my way home one night of October 2016 when the jeepney that I am riding suddenly stopped. Three men had been shot dead. They, according the police, were drug users and pushers.

Drug users and pushers are considered the main culprits for crimes and illegal acts in the Philippines. While a part of me was at peace knowing that there were three less criminals in my community, I cannot help but worry about the lives that were lost because of not being given the opportunity to change, or perhaps given another option.

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YLEAD participants had to cross the “Spider Web” without touching the wires. Once a teammate touches the wire all of them have to repeat the process.

Our passionate President, Rodrigo Duterte launched a “war on drugs” with the fear of our country being a narcotic state. Since the launch, at least a million of Filipinos, majority are youth, have surrendered and are now being rehabilitated through a multi-sectoral approach.

More than 30 million Filipinos are in the age of 15-35. At least 20 million were not able to finish schooling and have limited access for jobs, or have no jobs at all. The lack of options gives these youth the ample time to engage on vices, gang wars or drug abuse.

This is the rationale that inspired Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc (KKFI) to develop a program that provides opportunities for the youth to learn about leadership, education, advocacy and development.

Youth, Lead and Advocate for Development (YLEAD) is a program that enables the youth to be a catalyst of change in their respective communities.

YLEAD was launched in September 2015 and was attended by 75 young leaders from communities in Manila and Bulacan. The seven groups were able to implement projects in their respective communities, to address challenges in education, economic and environmental concerns. It is good to note that majority of our Alternative Learning System passers undergo the YLEAD training, thus making the training relevant in shaping young leaders.

On its second year, the program team identified seven mentors composed of KKFI staff and Global Mission Fellows. To aid in facilitating the YLEAD Camp, 22 young facilitators applied and were competently trained to assist the mentors and co-participants.

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Barangay  Tibag group plans for their YLEAD project

Last October 25-28, 2016, 85 young leaders gathered at Gilead Training Center in Pulilan, Bulacan to learn more about themselves, their peers and their respective communities.

Ms. Nancy C. Nicolas, KKFI Executive Director opened the training by relaying her story of leadership. She said that her mother exposed her to national trainings provided by the United Methodist Church. Said experience propelled her to be the National President of United Methodist Youth Fellowship of the Philippines (UMYFP).

She told young leaders to never stop initiating change and believe in themselves amidst challenges.

The training was highlighted with the seven core groups presenting their community projects which aimed to provide people in their communities the knowledge and services they need to have a better life.

Axel Supleto, one of the participants said, “YLEAD is life-changing. I am thankful that I was able to attend. I was able to know myself better and I have the opportunity to do something for my community.”

While many fall victim of drugs and lack of opportunities, KKFI tries to find ways to create options out of challenges. YLEAD is a program that unleashes the power of the youth to be involved and prove to everyone that they are never too young to lead.

MAKING WEAKNESSES INTO STRENGTHS

by Glenda B. Gutierrez

 

“There are people who look down on me. Therefore, I made my weaknesses into my strength. ” says Algin Tan, 17.

Gin, as he is fondly called is gay. He experienced discrimination due to his gender preference. He knew when he was in grade school that he had a female heart in a man’s body. But he says his family especially his parents supports him. Outwardly, he looks happy but he has some insecurities.

He stopped his schooling due to an unexplainable illness. He had skin sores that lasted five months. Due to embarrassment, he went to Nueva Ecija, a province north of Manila, to recuperate. He was in fourth level of high school then at the San Roque National High School in Navotas, a city north of Manila.

Their family also experienced financial lack. His father, Avelino, is a laborer and his mother, Ma. Gina, is a “kasambahay” (housekeeper.) Gin has a sister who is in second level of college.

He learned about the Alternative Learning System (ALS) Program of the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) from his aunt.

“I really want to continue my studies so I enrolled in ALS,” says Gin. “I want to get a good paying job so I can help my family,” he added.

Surrendering never entered his mind. He is set on his goal to pass the Accreditation and Equivalency (a & e) examination.

When asked what he did to pass. He answered “I prayed and encouraged myself I could do it.”

“I feel blessed and proud to be me,” exclaimed Gin. “I am ready to achieve my dreams. My passing is a sign for me to achieve my dreams.

Indeed, he did it. He passed the A & E examination and has enrolled in a university to take up BS Accountancy. People may looked down on him but he never made it an obstacle in achieving his dreams. He made his weaknesses into strengths.

FOR THE LOVE OF GRANDMA

by Glenda B. Gutierrez

 

“The Alternative Learning System (ALS) will help me get a better-paying job with which I would be able to help my family. ALS would also widen my knowledge,” says Mark Anthony Tado, 16, in Filipino.

Mac, as he is fondly called, enrolled in the ALS of the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) in Tondo, Manila because he wanted to finish his studies. He learned about the program from his grandmother who frequents the Barangay Hall to avail of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) of the government.

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Mark Anthony Tado left with batchmate Ian Leonardo Sabdao

Mac grew up with his grandparents. His mother, Laila is now living in Bacolod and has her own family. Mac has three half-siblings.

He stopped schooling after the second level of high school due to financial constraints. Both his grandparents are no longer working.

Mac idolizes his grandmother, Lola Anlay, whom he considers his inspiration. She took care of him despite her ailment. She is the reason why he refrained from bad habits and vices. He hopes to earn to help his Lola soon.

Mac admitted that his cousins did not believe he will not be able to pass the Accreditation and Equivalency examination. He even thought of giving up the ALS to take care of his grandmother.

But he really wanted to finish his studies. So he persevered and did his best. His folder which is full essays and mock tests is a testament to his dedication.

Mac wanted to become either a seaman or a basketball player who is included in the roster of a team included in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), the premier professional league in the country.

But first, he said he wanted to get a college diploma from the University of the East (UE) then work hard so he can buy a house and a car of his own. But before that, he knew he has to take a more practical and realistic step– enroll in a Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) course, have a job the soonest possible time, earn and save.

Mac will do whatever it take to offer the best for his grandparents, especially Lola Anlay.

PERSEVERANCE IS THE KEY

by Glenda B. Gutierrez

 

Jay Legarda of Malabon City was forced to stop studying because he had to work and help the financially strapped family. It was a decision that he had to make with a heavy heart.

But deep inside him, there is a gnawing realization of a truth in the worldly and capitalistic reality we are in—only education can get anyone a better-paying and stable job. If he could only reach this point, the poverty that his family is trapped would give him and everyone he loves an all-important respite.

The 22-year-old young man knew that his attention and efforts must focus on his education and on how to finish his studies.

Then he learned about the Alternative Learning System (ALS) Program of the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) through his brother, Rolegie, who attended. It was a blessing! Now, he has a chance to finish his high school studies as soon as possible and at the same time continue assisting his family financially.

Deriving inspiration from his parents and girlfriend, Jay was more than determined to pass ALS. Just like other ALS students who were able to pass, he must persevere. He knew that was the key to success—perseverance.

“I borrowed and read the modules and answered the sample questionnaires there. I learned how to write essays correctly. I also read and re-read the questions to make sure I understood them during the Accreditation and Equivalency (A & E) examination,” Jay said.

He added: “Because of my preparations, I somehow knew I would pass.”

Then, came the day of reckoning. Despite the confidence, the jitters and the butterflies in his stomach would not go away. The moment he learned that he successfully hurdled the test, the joy was indescribable!

“There were thousands who took the A & E exam and I was one of the few who passed,” he said.

Jay never thought of giving up because he knew “no one succeeds by giving up.” He thanked the Almighty God for guiding and giving him wisdom. He knew God is faithful.

Now, he plans to enroll in a Welding Course at the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to get a national certification. He plans to work and save in order to get a criminology degree in a university.

Indeed, career and financial success is within sight. Everything is different now. A year ago, this wasn’t so, when everything was foggy and Jay was not sure where to go to reach his destination.

Perseverance did and Jason knew it.