Feature: ‘Little teacher” solves child labor issue

Published by rudy Date posted on April 28, 2011

DAVAO CITY, April 28 (PIA) – A 16-year old senior high school student Cherish Nymph Maniquez or “Chin-Chin” to her family knew how hard is it to work when she’s supposed to start first grade.

“Chin-Chin” is one of the few children of small-scale miners operating in Barangay Tambongon, town of Pantukan, Compostela Valley Province.

Poverty pushed her parents to teach their kid adult work at a very young age when she should have learned her ABC’s.

When her father hit high-grade gold in one of his mining operation, “Chin” entered first grade but she was already two years behind her batchmates.

“Chin” recalls all these bitter-sweet memories while receiving her first award as Mindanao’s Gawad Aclat Awardee as little teacher.

She is one of those few senior high school students who volunteered as little teachers to teach the struggling learners in Tambongon National High School.

As a little teacher, she was trained on basic education methods and strategies specifically to encourage and inspire the struggling learners in her lower years.

“ Alam ko kung gaano kahirap mahuli sa pag-aaral kasi ako mismo ay nakaranas paano magsumikap para lang makapag catch-up sa dalawang taong pagkatigil ko sa pag-aaral (I know how difficult it is to be a struggling learner because I experience it myself when I strive hard just to catch up after lagging behind two years from my batch.),” she said.

Some students would rather play the spider game rather than attend school. “Chin” having understood the background and mindset of these kids, offered help.

She knew that scolding these kids won’t bring them back to the classroom. Instead, she bought her own spider and a matchbox and joined these kids in their game.

“ Habang naglalaro kami, dahan-dahan ko nang sinisingit ang mga lessons na dapat nilang matutunan sa loob ng klase (While we’re playing, slowly I inject lessons that they should be learning in the class.),” she said.

This teaching strategy that regular teachers apply in teaching is thought of by this little teacher who may have lacked the formal teaching education.

While in play, these struggling learners at the same time learn addition, reading, and comprehension.

It may have been difficult for Chin to sustain this teaching strategy but patience and love for teaching pushed her to do more until time came that these kids realized fun in learning and later on excitedly went back to their classes.

Most of the students in her school are children of small-scale miners in the area. One challenge she faced is how to entice these kids to stay in school despite the very strong temptation of engaging into child labor.

“ Alam ko rin ang nararamdaman nila na matigil muna sa pag-aaral para lang makatulong sa pagmimina. Kaya ako mismo ang gumagawa ng paraan para himukin silang ipagpatuloy ang pag-aaral (I know how it feels to be forced to stop schooling just to help in their family’s livelihood. That is why I make it a point to do my share to encourage them to stay in school.),” she said.

Three times a week, Chin sacrifices her play time for this teaching advocacy.

Studying college may yet be dim for her as she lacks financial support for a college education, but she’s all optimistic that she’ll end up a professional teacher someday.

Chin is one of the nine awardees from Mindanao under the little teacher category in the 2nd Gawad ACLAT or Anti-Child Labor Award for Teachers. It is through this search that both the government sector and the private initiative through ABK 2 (Pag-aaral ng Bata Para sa Kinabukasan) can see a potential reduction of children doing labor and bring them back to school.

“This time, we have recognized teachers who go beyond teaching hours just to keep children in school.”, said ABK2 project director Daphne Culanag. The award also pays tribute to adult para-teachers and little teachers as they contribute in the fight against child labor.

ABK2,now on its second phase, was led by the World Vision Development Foundation and funded by the United States Department of Labor. The program is also strongly supported by the Department of Education. It specifically aims to combat child labor through education in the Philippines.(MG PIA XI)

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