By Minerva BC Newman
CEBU CITY – Shaihana Bonso of Concepcion, Iloilo City, married and became a mother at 17, and had to quit her studies to take care of her child.
At that early age, Shaihana and her husband, a motorcycle driver, knew the challenges they face in raising a child.
Now 19, Bonso believes that completing her studies would be her ticket to get a job and give their child a brighter future.
“Going back to school today is close to impossible. With the advancement in technology, almost all our output is done using a computer and I can’t afford to pay for school fees,” she said.
In December 2017, with the help of a friend, she signed up for the Department of Education’s (DepEd) Alternative Learning System (ALS).
Bonso was surprised to know there is an alternative schooling for young adults like her looking for a chance to go back to study.
According to DepEd regional information officer Amaryllis Villarmia, ALS has helped 59,009 out-of-school youths and adults in Central Visayas.
Villarmia said ALS teachers are called learning facilitators or mobile teachers including volunteers. They bring literacy, basic education and useful knowledge to the deprived and underprivileged Filipinos at the grassroots level who were not given the opportunity to have a formal education.
“We are always grateful to individuals and institutions that donate equipment, materials and services specifically for the use of the ALS because these are more “personalized” kind of teaching and learning,” Villarmia said.
City Savings Bank (CSB) is one of the institutions helping the government implement ALS by recognizing outstanding mobile teachers, volunteers and even students in the program.
The bank has also donated IT equipment to DepEd.
CSB Reputation Management Head, Paula Ruelan told Manila Bulletin the bank’s advocacy started in 2016 when ALS teachers were included in the rooster of “Outstanding Educators” recognized by CSB during its 50th anniversary.
Ruelan said their stories were heartwarming. “They often brave rough roads, hike mountains or cross rivers to reach far-flung communities where they teach. They dedicate their time to fulfill their mission and help their students achieve their dreams in life,” Ruelan said.
Since 2016, City Savings Bank had donated P10.6 million worth of IT equipment composed of 259 laptops and 243 LCD projectors to 128 DepEd divisions.
In 2017, the bank donated laptops and projectors for 900 mobile teachers in Mindanao and in 2018, it gave five laptops and five projectors each for the ALS program in Cebu and Dumaguete.
The donations are given to DepEd at the division level because mobile teachers don’t have schools; they only have classes wherever there are out-of-school youth and adults in communities, Ruelan said.
Bonso is excited to visit the local ALS center to learn more about the program.