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PIA Press Release

Zambo Norte NGO bags first place in national literacy awards

Dipolog City (14 September) -- The Center for Social Concerns and Development (CESCOD), a non-government organization (NGO) operating in Zamboanga del Norte has emerged as the national first place winner in the outstanding literary program category during the 2010 National Literacy Conference and Awards held at the Teacher's Camp in Baguio City recently.

CESCOD's Executive Director Fr. Enrico Montano received the award which included a presidential trophy handed by Undersecretary Rizalino Rivera of the Department of Education (DepED).

In his acceptance speech, Fr. Montano expressed CESCOD's thanks to its partner NGO, the Peace and Equity Foundation (PEF) for funding its project, a functional literary program implemented in the remote barangays of Pange, Guibo, Domogok, Diongan and Balunokan in Siayan, Zamboanga del Norte.

"This award, although most unexpected, will surely serve as our inspiration to continue our mission of helping our brothers ands sisters in the hinterlands of Mindanao. We share this award with the Subano community of Siayan who graciously accepted us and allowed us to intrude into their culture and veer away from tradition, to learn the simple acts of writing and reading and to appreciate the value of education," said the CESCOD chief.

The other finalists for the same category were NGOs from Nueva Viscaya, Malaybalay City, Sorsogon City and Digos City.

The board of judges for this category was headed by Mr. Edicio de la Torre, President of Education for Life Foundation and E-Net and former Director-General of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

The judges personally came to Siayan town sometime in July this year and interviewed the learners of the said literacy program. They also looked into the performance of CESCOD for the last 18 years of its existence as an NGO, and its various programs and involvements.

DepED-IX representatives together Mrs. Rosa Articulo, Alternative Learning System (ALS) supervisor of the Zamboanga del Norte division attended the said activity.

City and municipal mayors coming mostly from the areas nominated for the outstanding LGU awards also came and attended the awarding ceremonies.

In keeping with the priority agenda of the United National Literacy Decade (2003-2012) and Millennium Development Goals (MDG), the conference carried the theme, "Community Development: A Shared Responsibility to Society through Functional Literacy.

The conference emphasized the need to enhance literacy education in our country as one of the steps towards poverty alleviation, calling for a concerted effort among the local government units (LGUs), DepED, NGOs and communities to address the often neglected issue of educating our youth and adults to become at least functional literates as a means to uplift our country from poverty and ignorance.

Region IX and Zamboanga del Norte ranked second among the lowest in literacy rate in the survey conducted last year, thus the challenge to improve the region and province's position in the literacy ranking remains. (PIA-ZN) [top]

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