News / Asia

Philippines Look to Bridge Education Gap

"Kariton" or pushcart in Filipino is on display at a pushcart classroom orientation in one of the toughest neighborhoods of Caloocan, the poorest municipality in Metro Manila, May 25, 2012. (S. Orendain/VOA)
Simone Orendain
MANILA - In the Philippines, the new school year begins in June and a few dropouts in the Manila area are hoping to be back in a regular classroom by then.  Right now, a pilot program of the national education system is helping them catch up at “pushcart classrooms.”  These mobile classrooms travel to street corners in six of the most impoverished neighborhoods of the metro area, complete with books, supplies, a meal and throngs of volunteers. 
 
On a street corner in the Novaliches neighborhood just north of Manila, dozens of children are busy with school work shaded by a tarp against a searing sun.  The kids, ages five to 18, read, write, draw and do arithmetic problems as they sit at plastic chairs and tables borrowed from the local town council.
 
A wooden cart painted in shades of green is near the entrance to the makeshift classroom.  The pushcart- or “kariton” in Filipino- is a cupboard on wheels that typically holds school supplies, books, personal hygiene items and meals.  
 
“All of them are street children, they are not studying,” said Yolanda Peñalosa, a public school teacher who volunteers at the pushcart. "Volunteers spend two hours each Saturday doing one-on-one lessons with the children who are first assessed to see what level they are in.  The goal is to get them back into a formal classroom. “… because of the reason the father has no work, the parents they are separated.  Problems have been encountered to make them stop.”
 
While
Lessons are over and a lunch of rice porridge with chicken and beans is served. Sitting at the 10-year olds' table, volunteer teacher Yolanda Penalosa shows off her student Ericson's quick progress in arithmetic, May 25, 2012. (S. Orendain/VOA)Lessons are over and a lunch of rice porridge with chicken and beans is served. Sitting at the 10-year olds' table, volunteer teacher Yolanda Penalosa shows off her student Ericson's quick progress in arithmetic, May 25, 2012. (S. Orendain/VOA)
x
Lessons are over and a lunch of rice porridge with chicken and beans is served. Sitting at the 10-year olds' table, volunteer teacher Yolanda Penalosa shows off her student Ericson's quick progress in arithmetic, May 25, 2012. (S. Orendain/VOA)
Lessons are over and a lunch of rice porridge with chicken and beans is served. Sitting at the 10-year olds' table, volunteer teacher Yolanda Penalosa shows off her student Ericson's quick progress in arithmetic, May 25, 2012. (S. Orendain/VOA)
 public education is free in the Philippines, school supplies, uniforms and meals are not.  The expenses can exceed some impoverished families’ budgets.
 
Seven-year old Marvin stopped school when a typhoon washed away his family’s house.  Marvin mostly spends his time playing outside and helping his mother with chores.  He says his father is unemployed.
 
Marvin says his father’s life is dominated by gambling and alcohol.  Because Marvin was recently in pre-school, his teacher says his chances of going back to regular school in June are strong.

Efren Peñaflorida created the pushcart classrooms to give any child the ability to go to school. His “Dynamic Teen Company” manages the pushcart program and links needy students with sponsors.
 
“Kariton classroom is like a sparkplug.  It’s an enticement to entice children to love learning, embrace learning," Peñaflorida stated. "Because we believe if these kids are able to love learning, it will love and embrace them back.”

By the end of next school year, Philippines Education Secretary Armin Luistro wants at least 10 pushcart classrooms in Manila and later, in other major cities. “It’s all about focusing on the needs of the child, where that child is," noted Luistro. "In this particular case, they have learned how to survive on the streets.  They have learned the liberality and freedom that the street offers and we don’t want to curtail that freedom right away.”
 
At the Novaliches pushcart classroom, 18-year old Marietoni Candelaria looks to the day that she can be reunited with her five siblings.  They were abandoned years ago and shuttled off to different relatives who could not afford their schooling.  

Candelaria says being in the pushcart classroom is a big deal.  She is focused on finishing high school, securing a college scholarship and getting a job so she can raise her siblings under one roof.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs