TIcala’s new classrooms bring hope

The building was donated by the World Bank-assisted Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS) project.

Here, nearly a hundred children and youth attend classes in a better atmosphere unlike before when they crammed in a small borrowed structure in the barangay.

Then, education was only up to Grade 2. Now, it is up to Grade 4. Next year, they expect to offer Grade 5 classes and have their first elementary graduates by 2010.

"It's a big help for us who weren't even able to send our children to school before because of the limited grade level offered in the old jampacked structure," said resident Albaya Asim.

Asim said that before they acquired the building, residents who wanted their children to enroll in higher grades spent two hour each day just to cross over to the nearby Bubual Elementary School in mainland San Pablo town.

If the weather is bad, the student ends up absent. Some eventually stop schooling "In a week, I think only about twice that they could attend the classes because we cannot also afford to send them everyday as we are also busy looking ways for our day-to-day living," she added.

The main sources of  income for the 50 households in this Moro-dominated village are fishing and a little farming.

"I am very happy and excited to continue and finish my elementary education," student Rahina Ismael said.

Rahina, 15, is now enrolled as regular grade four student. She wants to be  in the police service someday.

"Because I want to help the needy and help my community uplift its image," she said.

Ticala Island had figured in the past as an island of bandits and other lawless groups.

"Up to this time, people are still afraid when you mention to them Ticala Island, more so to visit it,"  village chief Yasser O. Samal noted.

 "Hopefully with this (school building and the entry of KALAHI-CIDSS project), we can (change that image). We are therefore coordinating with the residents to work with us in attaining peace and development in this island," he said.

Honelyn Alipio, regional social marketing officer of KALAHI-CIDSS in Zamboanga Peninsula, said they have other infrastructure projects in the province's fourth and fifth class towns.

These include potable water systems, footbridges, road construction and rehabilitation, and health centers.

"And above these projects is our commitment to strengthen the local communities in implementing and maintaining them" she said. "We want to build in them the sense of ownership in every project we will be facilitating." (Nung Aljani/MindaNews)