Feature: E-learning in the "barrio schools"
By Mai Gevera
Davao City (5 September) -- Teachers of a barrio school in the Island Garden of Samal simply asked for additional teachers, yet they were gifted with more than what they asked as four personal computers are set to arrive this month in San Jose Elementary School, Samal District.
School principal Poe Bustalino could not contain his excitement after hearing two good news for his school. His "barriofolks", long deprived with the comforts of electricity, now enjoy the sounds and images on television sets and other products made possible by electricity.
Just months after getting electric power, the said school learned about Rotary Club of East Davao's literacy project that makes the school a beneficiary of PC units that includes a learning software for Grades 1 and 2 as well as a training program for the teachers.
Bustalino said it is a big gift to the students who rarely had a chance to see a computer unit and operate it on their own.
"This is a big help for us teachers to speed up the learning process of school kids in the barrio and make sure that they are of the same level with the kids in the city proper," the principal said.
Teachers of the early graders observed that the students seemed to lack interest in learning which affected the students' level of comprehension and application.
A teacher bared that handling a class of almost 60 pupils is such a big challenge to her especially that she manages all the subjects for Grade 1.
" Admittedly, we lacked materials supposed to assist the teachers for easy transfer of knowledge," another teacher claimed.
Seeing the biggest challenge that influence student learning, the Rotary Club of East Davao, together with its partners: Rotary Australia World Community Services, Department of Education XI, Basic Education Assistance for Mindanao (BEAM) and the 7 Rotary Clubs around Region XI, has launched Reading, Writing, and e-Learning- the Keys to Tomorrow.
The project establishes learning centers in 23 Region XI schools with low literacy rates. Each center has four computers loaded with special literacy software and a variety of beginning reading and reading recovery books.
A container full of PCs that have reached 100 in number, arrived in Davao City last month ready to be distributed to 23 schools in the region.
San Jose Elementary Schools is just one of the beneficiaries.
"We now have more reasons to be enthusiastic in teaching our graders with the foundation theories they needed," another school head from Paquibato District Nida Abarquez said.
Before, they only have flash cards and images drawn on "cartolina" often used as visual aid, now, students could get excited with the advanced imaging shown on the computers which they will be using as they go about their learning process.
Deborah Moulton of the BEAM Literacy bared, "this is making the students more engaged in learning as they will be encouraged to study more by the sight of colorful images, and easy-learning, reading and writing cut across the subjects in Grades 1 and 2."
Recently, Grades 1 and 2 teachers from the selected schools had a one-day training for computer usage and software knowledge.
"We trained teachers who also had difficulties in turning on a computer and handling the mouse," Moulton said. This, she said, "is not shocking because we knew just how remote they have come from. But what amazes us is their enthusiasm to absorb the knowledge and their excitement to transfer it to their students."
BEAM continues to support this endeavor by providing literacy training for the teachers. It recognizes that computer sets could only do less without the competency of the teachers.
The Rotary assists schools by drafting a strategic plan inorder to accommodate all the graders involved without disrupting the regular schedule of classes.
"We recognize that it is not going to be a smooth flow of operation as soon as the schools receive the units. But we are encouraging the parents, school administrators, and local government units to also be engaged in a partnership that would empower these schools," said Rose Green of BEAM Literacy Program.
Not just a room with computer sets, but the learning center that the project aims to achieve is a room where children want to be-- filled with highly-engaging materials like books and magazines.
Moulton stressed that school children especially in the early grades need much focus for reading, writing, and e-learning as it holds the foundation for the future of these kids.
The Rotary of East Davao continues its commitment for special literacy. Another container-full of PCs are set to be delivered in the country and a team of experts are also studying to incorporate distinct Mindanao culture with the software designed for the graders. (PIA-XI) [top]