Going to school on Sundays

In Davao City, several institutions offer this program such as the Assumption College of Davao, Rizal Memorial Colleges, EMAR Learning Center, Holy Child of Davao and Tecarro College Foundation.
For schoolyear 2007-2008, Assumption College in Agdao topped the list in producing a number of graduates, at 540. EMAR along Matina produced 200 graduates while RMC gave diplomas to 158 and Holy Child with 150 (104 in the Jacinto campus and 46 in Tugbok). Tecarro has yet to produce a graduate because it has just started the program.

“Sunday school is particularly intended for those students who cannot attend class on a regular basis due to their work during weekdays. But in special cases like those who want to continue their study but is already overage, they too can enroll,” says Laila P. Oliver, Principal of Sunday School in EMAR.
Aside from holding the class on Sundays, it is also cheaper than the regular one. The lessons discussed and activities for both sessions are the same.  It’s just that the number of days in Sunday school is lesser (about 40 meetings). “There is no need to sacrifice any lesson because it can all be covered even for a short period of time although undeniably, the students find it really hard to catch up,” Oliver said.

Edyzeth Francisco, a former Sunday school teacher in Holy Child, agrees with Oliver. Sunday School students, she said, tend to easily forget the previous lesson and have to discuss it again. “It is probably because they spend longer time in working than studying,” she adds. But Francisco also acknowledges that students do not consider this a hindrance but  a challenge to strive harder.

Most of the Sunday School students work as housemaid or houseboy. Sometimes it is their employer who sends them to school while some do so on their own initiative, spending part of their salary for school needs.

Jenny and Vinchen would not have been able to pursue High School if not for Sunday school.   

Jenny Delfinan, 17,  an incoming senior student in Holy Child, grew up full of aspirations. “Dili mi datu pero kontento ko sa unsay naa sa amua (We are not rich but, I am contented with what we have),” she said.  Her parents separated at an early age. She lived with her mother and her six siblings. Her mother, who did not pursue High School, had a hard time finding a permanent job that will sustain their everyday needs. Her father sent them nothing.

She was able to attend school with the help of the Vice Mayor Demetrio Bagayas of Banaybanay, Davao Oriental (112 kilometers away from Davao City) because her mother was an avid supporter of the politician. In 2004, the vice mayor was looking for someone who could watch over the boarding house he owns in Davao City. Not thinking twice, her mother volunteered her for the job.

Jenny has been working for the Bagayas’ for four years now and is able to go school because of them. The Bagayas family takes care of her tuition and other school needs. “Okay ra nako na wala koy madawat nga suweldo basta ang importante kay ila kong gipaskwela kay kung didto ko sa amoa dili makaya sa akong mama nga paskwelahon ko kay daghan man gud mi managsuon (It’s okay for me not to receive any salary, what’s important is that they let me go to school because if I’m with my mother she won’t be able to send me to school because there are many of us),” she said.

Vinchen Masucat, 18, decided on his own to attend Sunday school instead of the regular one. He prefers helping his family prepare food for their own eatery on weekdays instead of going to school.

“Ako na lang tabangan silang mama aron makatipid mi ug para pud dili na mi mugasto sa pangsuweldo sa trabahante (Instead of paying for a helper, I’ll just help my parents so that we can save up).”  He admitted that another reason why he chose to enroll in Sunday School is that the money they earn is not enough to provide for their needs.    

Jenny and Vinchen. There are many more of them out there, in school on Sundays, hoping to finish at least High School and hopefully live a better life. (Thea Padua/MindaNews)