Feature: For the love of education
by Russtum G. Pelima
Alabel, Sarangani (13 August) -- Before Flora Paler understood education is for all, she has already chosen to be a teacher, or that it chose her. For Ma'am Flora, teaching is not a profession. It is a vocation.
For one, when education Secretary Jesli Lapus visited the province before this year's school opening, he announced that the department's new campaign is bringing more youth back to school.
But Flora, when she was assigned as school head in Tokawal National High School last year, she went talking to tens of parents in the barangay and convinced them to send their children back to school, saying, "Payag ba kayo na ganito lang ang bahay ninyo forever?"
Indeed, there is future to what the 52-year old educator said, and so she had convinced the parents to stop their children labor and send them back to school.
Tokawal National High School (TNHS) is one of the lowliest schools in Alabel town. TNHS was Alabel National High School's annex campus for six years until it became an independent national high school in 2005.
It has formerly eight teaching force but now reduced to only five. The school head had to squeeze the 234 students to four classes in the four old classrooms.
A makeshift building made of bamboo is used as the office of the Parents, Teachers and Community Association (PTCA). One room is used as a reading center and a faculty room.
One of the two old school buildings with two classrooms was built by the Department of Education (DepED) when the school was established. The other old building was erected by the Southern Philippines Power Corporation (SPPC) complete with comfort rooms and electrical fixtures.
"One new building was constructed for computer laboratory which funding was sourced out from the local government, parents, and subsidy of SPPC's Adopt-a-Student Scholarship Program," Flora said.
The computer laboratory accommodates 11 computer sets donated by the DepED, 10 from SPPC, two from the provincial government while Flora and the PTCA are using two more computer sets donated by the municipal government.
When the computers arrived last summer, Flora had to work on putting up electricity in school. Before, students had to walk down to the barangay site for rehearsals.
"Thanks to SPPC again," the teacher mused.
SPPC, located in nearby barangay Baluntay, when it vowed to help the adjacent barangays as it started its operation of providing an additional 55-megawatt power to the region two decades ago, sees to it that this is carried out for the community in many ways - a clean and green environment, livelihood, health, and education.
There is now an on-going construction of a two-classroom building from the DepED.
When I happened to meet Flora for the first time at the provincial capitol, she said she came from the provincial engineering office to ask people there help make an old water pump in school work again to provide water for the construction. This would supply water to students, too, who buy drinking water at the canteen during break time.
"She did not waste her time sitting down in her office. She is a very active school head," said 3rd year high school Loraine Gultia, 14.
"Salamat at meron na kaming bagong facilities like computer room, electricity, new school building," student Hazel Mae Dollaga said.
Teacher Divina Gracia Fernandez said it really counts when the school in-charge sources out funds and put them for the school's development and the teachers cooperate.
Once more for the teacher with her call for education, "It is the source of becoming each of us a better person and an asset to the community." (Sarangani IO/PIA 12) [top]