Benjie, 18, has been trying to learn his lessons on his own since classes started in October amid a coronavirus pandemic. This Grade 10 student from Araullo High School Manila self-learning convenient in the absence of classroom noise and other distractions. But he finds it more difficult to understand the complex of his lessons without a proper tool to study.
In the Philippines, a “blended learning” program involving online classes, printed materials and lessons broadcast on television and social media was launched in October, four months after the school was supposed to start. It has been overwhelmed with problems because of most the students in the Philippines do not have a computer, mobile gadgets or internet at home. Like many poor children, Benjie has no gadgets and internet for his shuttered school’s online lessons.
Benjie is a street youth lives in the streets of Manila together with his mom who is a street vendor. He has one sibling, both of them are studying online. His mother’s income as a street vendor compelled to buy food only in a day.
“Php250.00 lang kinikita ng akin nanay mula kanya pagtitinda sa kalsada. At sakto lang ito para sa pambili ng amin kakain sa loob ng isang araw” (“My mother only earns Php250.00 from selling on the street. And it's just right for us to buy food for a day) Benjie explained.
With a minimum income, Benjie admits his mother cannot afford to buy them gadgets nor can’t secure to pay for internet for their online classes.
During his first month of online learning classes, Benjie borrows a cellphone from his fellow youngsters on the street to attend his online classes and secretly goes under the train station so that he can connect to public wifi.
“Dahil bawal pa lumabas ang bata, patago kami na pumupunta sa ilalim ng LRT station para duon kami maka connect ng internet. Nagtatago na lang kami sa tuwing mayroon may dadaan pulis o barangay officials’ para hindi kami mahuli” (Since the children are not allowed to go outside yet, we secretly go under the LRT station so that we can connect to the internet there. We just hid whenever there were police or barangay officials passing by so that we would not be caught) Benjie added.
Benjie always takes risks everyday just to avoid being absent from his online classes and he can pass all the needed online requirements to his teachers.
To help continue street children’s education despite the pandemic.
It’s no secret that remote learning poses a lot challenges for many Filipino students. Especially, considering street children and homeless youth continue to struggle to access basic education services. Additional to their burden, buying laptop, computer, or even a tablet or mobile phone plus securing an internet connection to aren’t something that all parents can easily do for their children because many of them lost their livelihoods due to current pandemic.
Like Benjie, came from disadvantaged family, aside from having a hard time looking some ways to eat on a daily basis, he also struggling on how he will pursue his education now. His family is in dire need about how to sustain their education.
“Sobrang hirap ng kalagayan namin ngayon. Mahirap para sa amin mga mahihirap dahil wala kami gadget o perang para makabili. Parang nakalimutan na kami ng gobyerno natin na tulungan kami. Pero kailangan ko talaga magsakripisyo ngayon. Ayaw ko tumigil sa aking pag aaral. Nakakahanap naman ako ng paraan para maka attend ng aking klase.” (Our situation is very difficult now. It’s hard for us poor because we don’t have a gadget or the money to buy it. Our government seems to have forgotten to help us. But I really have to sacrifice now. I don’t want to stop my studies. I will find ways just to attend my class and finish it) Benjie said.
Fortunately, Benjie is an active beneficiary of Childhope Philippines. That's why when he found out that the organization was going to launch a new project, “KalyEskwela Mobile Community Learning Hub”, he was very happy. He is one of the beneficiaries who regular utilize the use the KalyEskwela Mobile Community Learning Hub. He no longer has to worry about where to borrow a cellphone or tablet and connect to the internet because he has free access to gadgets and the internet using the KalyEskwela.
“Sobrang laki ng tulong ng KalyEskwela dahil meron na akong nagagamit na gadget upang ako ay maka attend ng sa akin online classes ng sa ganyon mapag patuloy ko ang aking pag aaral.” (KalyEskwela has helped me a lot because I already have a gadget that I can use so that I can attend my online classes every day and I can continue my studies.) Benjie commended.
Aside from the free use of tablets and the internet, the free printing of his learning modules is also a big help to Benjie. He doesn't have to worry about where to print his modules at school. According to him, they save a lot of money here. And whenever he has a misunderstood lesson from his online classes he asks for help from his street educators who are always there to guide them whenever there is a KalyEskwela session in their area.
“Napakagandang tulong nito para sa amin mga kabataan lalo na para sa amin mga magulang. Marami magulang ng mga batang kalye ang nawalan ng hanapbuhay o pinagkakakitaan dahil sa nangyayaring pandemiya ngayon. Sapat lang ang kinikita namin ngayon at pantawid gutom na lang namin ito. Dahil sa KalyEskwela, nakaka iwas na kami sa gastusin. Hindi na naming iniisip kung saan at papaano kami makaka bili ng load dahil may libreng internet na sa KalyEskwela. Pati na rin ang libreng paprint nila ng amin modules ay sobrang laking ginhawa na rin para sa amin. Imbes na pangprint, binibili na lang naming ito ng pagkain.” (It is a great help for us youngsters especially for our parents. Many parents of street children have lost their livelihoods due to the current pandemic. We only earn enough now to buy foods. But thanks to Childhope’s KalyEskwela, we are able to avoid school expenses. We no longer think about where and how we can get mobile loads because there’s a free internet at KalyEskwela. As well as the free printing of modules is a huge convenience as well for us.) Benjie said.
“Hindi rin kami pinapabayaan ng mga street educators. Sa tuwing mayroon kami hindi maintindihan sa amin online classes ay mabilis namin sila nalalapitan at tinuturuan kami ng maayos.” (Neither did the street educators never neglect us. Whenever we cannot understand our lessons we just simply approach them and teach us properly.) Benjie added.
“Dasal na lang namin ay sana magtuloy-tuloy ang KalyEskwela hanggang sa matapos ang pandemiya at makabalik kami sa school”. (We just pray that KalyEskwela will continue until the pandemic is over and we can go back to school.) Benjie concluded.
Street kids able to attend their online classes
Educational equipment inside the Kalyeskwela MCLH
Actual operation of KalyEskwela in Lawton, Manila.
Street kids from airport area in Manila using KMCL