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Pushcart classrooms help to provide education in Philippines

04-10-2012 18:08 BJT

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There are close to 12 million out of school youth in the Philippines, that's according to the United Nations Children's Fund or UNICEF. Providing education has been a major challenge for the Philippine government, but now, it's trying a new task. Through a partnership with a small non-profit organization, it's now taking education out into the streets with so-called pushcart classrooms.

It's a Saturday morning and although it may have been a day-off for most people, for these volunteer-teachers, it's just another day in class, only this time; they're taking their classes out into the streets. They walk half an hour, pushing these carts; complete with toys, books, blackboards, and even medical supplies; all the way to a vacant lot near a slum community where these children eagerly wait.

Efren Penaflorida, the co-founder said, "It's like introducing to them that learning is fun, that learning should be part of their lives."

For a couple of hours each week, these children learn how to read and write; they learn a little bit about numbers; and there's a special emphasis on values formation. Most of the children come from these slums, where drugs and violence are common alternatives to school.

Efren Penaflorida also said, "Actually the idea is to have an alternative to gangs."

Eight-year old King Mark Aguilar says he's been coming here every Saturday not just because it's fun, but because he's learned the value of hard work and education. Something 11-year old Jillian Pastores knows all too well. She used to be just like King Mark, but now, she's back in school, finished 4th in her class, and has even become a volunteer for the project, just one of the many success stories.

It started with one pushcart at a dumpsite not for from the Philippine capital Manila. Now these mobile classrooms are in over half a dozen cities in the country, and soon, they'll be rolling these out in Indonesia.

And to start with, there will be 4 pilot sites in Jakarta, but in the Philippines, the Education Department, which has been dealing with a massive dropout rate, has tapped Efren and his organization to train volunteers and set up pushcart classrooms all throughout the country.

Efren Penaflorida said, "Pushcart is not a replacement to mainstream education. It's an enticement especially for those who have lost love for learning."

An almost impossible task, but for every step up the education ladder one Jillian makes, for these volunteers, there will always be that inspiration to keep pushing for change.


Editor:Bai Yang |Source: CNTV.CN

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