youth group helping out of school youth

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The movement that revolutionizes education

Angelo G. Garcia
Manila Bulletin
January 11, 2011

MANILA, Philippines — On a piece of paper, an out-of-school youth writes down what his dreams are. But when asked if he thinks he can achieve these dreams, he immediately answers ‘No.’

This is the first thing that youth organization called Education Revolution Movement (EdRev) asks its potential beneficiaries to do, whoever and whatever age they are.

“Tinatanong namin sila, ano ba ang pangarap mo sa buhay? May nangagarap na gustong maging simpleng teacher, pero iniisip nila agad na hindi nila ito matutupad,” explains 21-year-old Cherwin Ramos, and EdRev officer.

Sadly, most of the people who answer this question believe that there is no chance in this world that their dreams could still come true, however simple it may be.

The growing number of hopeless out-of-school (OSY) youth in San Jose Patag in Sta. Maria Bulacan prompted the people behind EdRev to start the Education Crave Project, which aims to bring back the young people’s belief in themselves, that they can achieve their hopes and dreams.

“We always tell them: Ang mga pangarap na ‘yan hindi natin hahayaang maging pangarap lang. Magtulungan tayo, tutulungan namin kayo matupad ang mga pangarap ninyo sa buhay,” Ramos says.

For its simplicity, practicality, and impact on the community, the Education Crave Project recently won for EdRev a spot in the recent Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) Awards. Operating for almost two years only, the organization is the youngest group this year to bag the TAYO award.

Door-to-door recruitment

EdRev was conceived in 2009 by a group of college students from Sta. Maria who had a strong desire to provide an alternative learning system (ALS) for the estimated 500 OSYs in their community.

The project is a four-month review session that aims at getting the OSYs a high school diploma by helping them pass the accreditation and equivalency exams given by the Department of Education (DepEd.) Beneficiaries’ ages range from 22 to 75 years old.

“Pinuntahan namin sila door to door, nag-iikot kami sa community. May public announcement system na nag announce na inaanyayahan namin ang lahat ng elementary and high school drop-outs na sumama sa programa.’’

Believing that education is for all, EdRev encourages even the old ones to participate.

“Mahirap i-encourage sila to undergo the program kasi nga dala na rin ng katandaan, nahihiya na. But we tell them that it does not say anywhere that you have to be 16 years old to finish high school or 21 to finish college because education is for all. Sa kanila kasi when the reach the worst part of their lives, ‘yung pinaka extreme challenge sa buhay nila, they feel na hanggang dito na lang ako, hindi na ako puwede mag excel, it is the end of my world,” Ramos adds.

The EdRev people are not ones who easily give up. They enlisted the help of DepEd and the barangay council to assist them in their mission. They also solicited donations in cash and in kind.

The group also harnesses the spirit of volunteerism. Professionals, academics and students from the community have rendered their services to help teach the beneficiaries. Among the volunteers are an engineer, a former professor, a former government employee, and so many more who believe in the project.

They also use a personalized approach in reviewing and educating their beneficiaries where existing teaching modules are assigned to one instructor per subject and difficulties are modified to suit the levels and the abilities of the learners.

As an initial result, out of the 81 reviewers in the first batch, 35 passed the DepEd’s exam, 15 got high school diplomas and nine are now in college. EdRev is still waiting for the results of the second batch of beneficiaries.

They are currently on their third batch.

They also help their beneficiaries by looking for scholarship for them to continue and finish their college education.

Most of their beneficiaries are now working college students.

“I believe we are able to make them realize that one way or another, they can go beyond where they are right now. Hindi lang hanggang ganyan ang buhay mo. Although you’ve been an OSY for a very long time, hindi hanggang diyan lang ang buhay mo,’’ Ramos says.

To dream again

EdRev started with zero funds and survives on donations and sponsorships. Sometimes, the money comes from the members’ own pockets. But it is the group’s collective willingness, sincerity, and passion that keep them going.

“The fact that we have no fund motivates us. We are able to prove that the lack of money is not a reason not to continue and do something good for the community,” Ramos shares. “But the mere fact na nabago mo ‘yung buhay ng tao at na instill mo sa kanya ang value na importante ang edukasyon, sobrang biyaya na ito sa amin.”

With the TAYO cash award, EdRev plans to use the money to support their projects and finish the training center that they are building. They also plan to purchase computers for their e-learning project.

Their efforts are paying off, Ramos observes. The number of OSYs is slowly decreasing as the amount of support from the community increases.

“Ang sa amin lang, huwag sana mawalan ng pag-asa ‘yung iba. Kahit matanda ka na, puwede ka pa rin mag-aral. Kailangan lang mangarap ka ulit at tutulungan ka naming tuparin ‘yun,” Ramos ends.

Source: Manila Bulletin

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