Mas Maaliwalas na Bukas ang Dulot ng YLEAD

ni Axel Mendoza

 

Matagal nang problema ng mga taga-Tondo ang droga. Tila hindi ito matapos-tapos at hindi mapigil-pigilan.

Doon sa Tondo, ito na ang almusal, tanghalian at hapunan ng mga kabataan. Okey lang ang hindi kumain sa buong maghapon basta “makatira” lamang.

Ibebenta nila ang lahat upang maka-“score” lamang, maging ito man  ay ari-arian o kahit ang sariling nilang anak, para sa mga may edad na.

Madaling ibenta ang droga sa Tondo. Kaya’t pinipili ng iba na ito ang ilako upang magkapera kaysa maghanap ng marangal na trabaho.

Ang isang programa ng Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) na may katawagang Youth Leadership, Education and Advocacy for Development (Y-LEAD) ay naglalayong mag-adbokasiya laban sa masamang epekto ng droga sa buhay ng mga tao, kabataan man o hindi na.

Nagbibigay ang mga kabilang sa programang Y-LEAD ng mga impormasyon sa mga kabataan man o mga magulang upang balaan sila sa pwedeng mangyari kung gagamit at magpapatuloy gumamit ng pinagbabawal na gamot.  Naglatag kami ng mga alternatibong gawain imbes gumamit ng pinagbabawal na gamot.

Nag-organize ang Y-LEAD sportsfest para sa mga kabataan. Dito ay naglaro ng basketball at volleyball ang mga kabataang dati’y nakikita lamang na sa mga kalsada at “tumitira” ng solvent.

Sa sportsfest ay natutunan nila ang kahalagahan ng pagkakaisa at “teamwork.” Halata ang pagod sa kanilang kilos ngunit makikita rin sa kanilang mga mukha ang kasiyahan na dati’y mailap sa kanila.

Bukod dito ay tinuruan din ang mga bata tungkol sa masamang idinudulot sa buhay ng paggamit ng bawal na gamot. Tinuruan din sila ng kagandahang-asal. Natutunan nila kung paano rumespeto sa mga nakakatanda at makisalimuha sa mga kapwa bata. Higit sa lahat, ipinakilala sa kanila si Jesus Christ.

Bago ito ay tinuruan ang mga kabataang lider ng disiplina at kung paano mapalago ang sariling mga kaalaman.

Alam naming maraming talento ang mga kabataan ng Tondo. Kailangan lamang nila ng tiwala at paggalang sa sarili upang lumabas ang kanilang pagiging malikhain.

Bago natapos ang proyekto ay nagkataong idinaos ang piyesta sa Tondo at dito nagkaroon ng pagkakataon ang mga bata at kabataan ng Tondo na mag-perform upang mapanood ng lahat ang kanilang kakayahan.

May mga sumayaw, may mga kumanta, at may mga umarte sa pamamagitan ng teatro.

Sa pamamagitan ng mga gawaing ito mula sa proramang Y-LEAD ng KKFI ay maraming kabataan ng Tondo ang magkakaroon ng panibagong pagkakataong makaangat sa buhay imbes na malugmok sa bawal na droga.

 

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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.

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.

Ian
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.

 

CORRECTING ONE’S MISTAKES

by Glenda B. Gutierrez

 

“They are my inspiration,” declares 23-year-old Jonalyn C. Villaruel, referring to her two lovely children.

She was in her third year in high school when she dropped out of school early, blaming this misfortune on early pregnancy and bad influence of peers. However, she refused to accept that having a family that she had to care for was a hindrance in finishing her education.

Then, a life-changing blessing from God came into her life. It came in the form of three staff members of the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) who visited her in her house. They told her about the Foundation’s Alternative Learning System (ALS) Program.

Jonalyn’s “angels”—former KKFI Community Development Worker Arvin Reyes, St. Peter United Methodist Church (UMC) Coordinator Ana Martin and former KKFI Instructional Manager Lovely Joie Orgado–convinced the young mother to try ALS.

They did not need to take too much effort, though. Jhona immediately enrolled because she immediately realized that ALS was the answer to her prayer. But it was not all bed of roses for Jhona.

“Nahihirapan po ako sa pag-aasikaso ng anak ko. Kapag may pasok po sa ALS ay isinasama ko na lang po sa St. Peter. Pagdating ng 4:30 o 5:00 p.m., nagpapaalam na po ako kasi magsusundo pa po ako ng anak sa eskwelahan,” she relates. (I would bring my youngest child to class with me because I found it difficult to look for someone to take care of my child. I also would ask permission to leave the class early to pick up my eldest from school)

She learned to manage her time the most efficient way in order to cope. Whenever she was not able to attend classes, she made sure that she reviewed the lessons at home. She also read modules during her free time.

She was ecstatic upon learning that she passed the Accreditation and Equivalency examination given by the Department of Education last April 17, 2016. Now, she is planning to enroll in college and find a good-paying job for her family.

When asked if she is ready to reach her goals, she answered: “Handa na po dahil sayang ang pahanon.”

Jhona is currently completing the requirenents for a 15-month training in bookkeeping at the Don Bosco TVET Center in Tondo, Manila and to be certified by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). She hopes to be a Certified Public Accountant someday. Their classes start November 2016.

Indeed, one’s mistakes can be corrected. Jhona is now steering her life to a brighter future.

ANSWERED PRAYER

by Rolly Boy Rejano

Translated by Glenda B. Gutierrez

 

“My name is Rolly Boy R. Rejano. I am 17 years old and I live in Tondo, Manila. I describe myself as a happy, simple, helpful, respectful, loving, and shy guy.

“My mother is Racquel Rejano, 34, a food vendor and my father is Rolando Rejano, 39, a jeepney driver. I am the eldest of three children. My siblings are Ledielyn Mae and Ruby Lance.

“Life is not easy but my parents continue to persevere to earn a living. Somehow, they are able to provide our daily needs.

“Despite the daily provisions, I lost focus and was influenced by my friends to cut classes and later on stop schooling altogether. I even had vices then.

“I almost lost hope, but two years later, I learned about the Alternative Learning System (ALS) Program of the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. in our Barangay Hall. I really wanted to finish my studies so I enrolled in the program.

“ALS is not easy. I persevered and studied hard. I was really determined to pass so no thoughts of giving up entered my mind.

“What I did to pass the Accreditation and Equivalency (A&E) examination was, first, I prayed, second, I reviewed and last, I focused on understanding the test questions so I could answer them correctly.

“And my prayers were answered by Jesus. Indeed, I was very happy to know that I passed the A&E exam. Now, I can slowly but surely achieve my dreams. I plan to continue my studies to become a seaman someday. This has always been my dream since I was a child. My inspirations are my parents and the Lord Jesus Christ.

“I want to earn enough money for my family. I know everyone wishes to have a better life. But this is my promise to parents.

“I am ready to face the challenges in life.  I know Jesus is faithful and will guide and give me wisdom. In His time, I will achieve my dreams.”