As most children are going back to school in a few days, I can’t help thinking about the time I was an informal teacher…
I used to teach English and the Arts in a public market, where my students were either in public schools or not studying at all. While I knew of the status of the educational system in the Philippines needed a revamp, I could see in my students their thirst for knowledge, particularly in English and the Sciences. I know one is already in college, while the others are going are in high school. Unfortunately though I had to leave them and after a while I lost contact with most of them.
Most of them will live their lives working, if not managing their own business when the right time comes. In fact, I do hope that they do end up being entrepreneurs and creating jobs for others. In Manila, it’s relatively easy to find work.
But for other places, it’s not only hard to find work, but it’s also hard to go to school.
It is part of our mainstream thought that one of the best ways out of poverty is through education. And every child, regardless of background or circumstance, deserves a proper, holistic, meaningful and discerning education. What is important, as well, is that their schools should teach them critical thinking, a strong sense of self and the community, and expanding their worldviews.
It is everyone’s vocation to help one another: this is a call beyond any college course or Master’s Degree; it is a call to address a very basic need in this rapidly changing world. And one call is all it takes, especially for Caritas Manila, who held a telethon yesterday (June 6th). Their Youth Servant Leadership Program (YSLEP) is their flagship program to battle against poverty. It aims to use the proceeds of their activities like the telethon to improve educational redevelopment efforts in Yolanda-stricken areas and parts of ARMM (Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao).
Curious, I decided to go deeper. Here are some facts I gathered about the status of education in Mindanao, which are eye-opening to a Manileña like me:
- Only 0.1% poverty incidence occurs in NCR among households whose most educated member is a college graduate; while on the other hand, ARMM’s poverty incidence is highest at 13.1%.
- As of 2015, ARMM has the lowest basic literacy rate in the country at 82%.
- DepEd (Department of Education) has been making strides in providing inclusive education for all, especially for Indigenous Peoples and Mindanaoans. For example, the Madrasa Education Program has improved access to education for Muslims and has instilled a culture of peace in the region. (Source)
- In some parts of Mindanao, like in Maguindanao, many families don’t make enough income to go above the poverty line, and, though completely understandable, they would rather use the money they make to buy food rather than send their children to school or buy school supplies for them. (Source)
With your help, the reality that Mindanao is facing today could become a distant memory in years to come. Although the Telethon is over, you can always make a donation to send a child to school throughout the year.
Remember: we own nothing in this world, so it is best to give to people who need what we have the most.
If you’d like to donate, simply call 925-7931 to 40 or 563-9311.
Donations are accepted through the following back accounts:
Account Name: Caritas Manila Inc.
BPI Account Number 3063-5357-01
BDO Account Number 5600-45905
CebuanaLhuillier and Paypal.