Gloria listened to one of the para teachers during the Progress Tracking Performance for Sarangani Province.
In the far flung community of Lanao Kapanglao in Barangay Datal Bukay, Glan Sarangani Province, there is a para teacher who is whole heartedly teaching the young ones about basic education. For Gloria Dewil, it becomes a normal routine to trek the rolling hills and mountains, walking the slippery road when it’s raining or crossing rapid rivers just to teach her eager students in the community. She is motivated to teach her fellow tribe because she knows how hard if you don’t have education.
As a 21 year old para teacher she was supposed to study Education in the prestigious Mindanao State University in GenSan. She sacrificed the opportunity to study in college because she knows that the community needs her. She chose to teach in her community because she has witness the shortage of good teachers in the area.
Gloria did not feel any guilt about her decision. She remains thankful despite the fact that she did not pursue college. She is still glad that she finished her elementary and high school. As she recounts, she became a working student to sustain her schooling. She graduated her elementary from Hadji Musa Elementary School in Kapatan Glan while she finished her high school in Malapatan National High School.
“It’s hard to teach the children if you’re not educated,” says Gloria. “I’m thankful that I finished my elementary and high school. That’s why I’m doing my best to teach the young ones in our community.”
She is also proud to say that all of her 8 siblings are in school. Just like Gloria, her siblings also become working students to help sustain their studies.
Lanao Kapanglao is a Manobo-Blaan community in which she teaches multi grade level. Her youngest student is 5 years old while the oldest is 30 years old. Just like other para teachers in Sarangani Province Gloria also encounters many challenges. One of these challenges is the place itself.
“Lanao Kapanglao is a very far community in Glan,” says Gloria. “You would trek for almost a day and if you are not used to it you would reach the area in two days. We also experience delayed information with regards to the ‘outside world’.”
Aside from its deterrent location, Gloria also has a hard time convincing the parents of her pupils to send their children to school. In their community, most of the parents would prefer their children to cultivate the land than go to the school. This scenario would make the students feel discourage to continue their schooling.
“I want them to be educated. Instead of giving up I encourage them to continue,” says Gloria. “I tell their parents that education is important for their children. I go to their homes and convince the parents that their children should go to the (community) school. I really challenge them because I want them to realize their responsibilities as parents.”
The students crossed one of the rivers in the community.
Through her efforts, the parents now realized the importance of sending their children to school. They become supportive of Gloria’s activities in their community. Through her efforts she became known in their area because of unending support to the young ones in Lanao Kapanglao.
“The parents would say that because of me their children learned basic literacy. They feel indebted in my service to the community,” as Gloria relates.
Gloria also makes sure that her students would have enough energy in class. For example, she would provide meals for her pupils who could not afford to have one. She would also provide school supplies and clothes to her students.
“I provide their food just to continue the class. Most of my pupils would walk several kilometers and when they arrived in class they are exhausted and hungry. Some of my pupils have not eaten their meal. I cannot stand seeing my students in that kind of situation so that’s why I find ways to provide their meals. Sometimes one of my students would bring banana, camote or any staple food and we would share and eat it in class. Sometimes I would also provide their school materials thru my own money. I also provide some clothes to my students.”
Gloria became a para teacher thru the REACH Mindanao Project on Education of Plan International. They were two para teachers in the community. The other para teacher did not continue while she remains committed in doing her job. At first she was hesitant to accept the job as para teacher. That time Gloria was not confident to accept it because she did not finish a degree. But Meilani Libre, the Learning Specialist of Plan International’s REACH Mindanao Project on education, convinced her to become para teacher. Meilani told Gloria that it is not necessarily full fledge graduate as long as you are passionate for the job. She is thankful about it because she learned so much from the program.
“I learned so much from the trainings and seminars that Plan organized. Plan International is very helpful to para teachers, to the students and most importantly to the communities. What’s great about Plan is that they reach far flung communities in the province,” says Gloria.
Gloria shared her experience as para teacher during the Progress Tracking of Performance for Sarangani Province.
Sitio Lanao Kapanglao is one of the beneficiaries of REACH Mindanao Project. Plan International is implementing this two-year development project in Mindanao specifically in the provinces of Maguindanao and Sarangani. “Dubbed as Resilience and Change for Children and Families in Mindanao (REACH Mindanao), the project envisions that boys and girls live in resilient communities and are able to access their health and protection rights through locally delivered and managed services. The project started on June 2013 and ends on September 2015 covering 24 barangays with various project components. The education component implements activities which support the alternative delivery mechanisms in Sarangani and Maguindanao. It endeavors to contribute to improved access and quality basic education among children in the remote communities of the target provinces. Plan partners with DepEd and Local Government Units (LGU) in the implementation of REACH project on education.”
Gloria hopes that Plan’s project on education will continue. She hopes that Plan would help other communities who need support in terms of education.
“I salute Plan International for their efforts and advocacies,” says Gloria. “I hope they will continue this project in other areas. I know God would bless them more.”
Gloria also feels thankful that the Provincial Government of Sarangani supported the REACH Mindanao project on education.
“Gov. Solon has big trust to us (para teachers). We are thankful for his support and encouragement.”
Just like other para teachers in Sarangani, Gloria also dreamed that she would finish her studies. She wanted to set an example to her students that education is really important not only for themselves but also to their community.
“I know God has plans for me,” says Gloria. “I trusted all to Him. As of the moment I will continue to help my community. I hope my students would continue their studies despite the challenges we have encountered in our community. Because I believe that education is the best key to success.”
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