Volunteers not only help Iligan kids read, they also learn from them

A volunteer-teacher under the National Service Training Program (NSTP), Daisy commutes to the village on weekends and spends about three hours from 8:30 until 11:30 in the morning, teaching non-readers how to read.

“Initially, I observed the kids were good in Math but weak in English especially comprehension”, she said. “That’s why I focused myself on exercises that will enhance their reading and comprehension skills, sometimes we go beyond noon time”, Daisy added.

Parents and local officials of the city are being confronted by a widespread predicament affecting the kids. Problem in reading and comprehension among grade school pupils surfaced when a study was conducted two years ago.

Based on the 2005-2006 results of the Philippine Informal Reading Inventory (Phil-IRI), 62.8% of students from the city’s 82 elementary schools are poor in reading and comprehension, assessed as frustration-level readers and non-readers.

The pre-test results revealed that out of a total 43,916 grades 1 to 6 students; 26,463 students or 60.26% are at the frustration level and 1,642 students or 3.74% are non-readers. This dismal reading capability has been observed as critical factor of students’ performance in their other subjects.

Confronted by this problem, parents and local officials in partnership with the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), Goodwill Mindanao Philippines, Inc (GMPI) and the academe, adopted measures to address the issue. About 230 volunteers from the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT) who are under the Literacy Training Service of the NSTP, were mobilized to teach effective reading to children.

Daisy was among those who responded and willingly accepted assignment in Barangay Pugaan- about 5 to 7 kilometers from the city proper. “Lagyo ang balay mao nga hulaton usa nako ang uban usa mi magsugod” (Houses are located far from the school, so I have to wait for others before we start), Daisy said.

“There was a time the kids invited me to go with them because they prepared something for me. I declined. Later did I know that it was their village’s feast day. I really regret not accepting their invitation”, she added.
Her involvement in the remedial reading program has brought fulfillment in her budding desire to become a teacher someday. “My bonding with the kids during reading sessions taught me something; that despite poverty at home, the kids are very eager to learn. Sometimes if I have extra money, I will bring biscuits for the kids which we eat during our break”, Daisy confided. “I feel fulfilled like a real teacher”, she added.

Each of the 230 volunteers handles only about 10 pupils per session so that attention would be given to each one. With this engagement, the program hopes to assist non-readers improve their reading and comprehension skills and be at par with the rest in the class.
This partnership in addressing an emerging education-related concern has been successful with the involvement of the academe and community stakeholders. Foremost among them is Goodwill Mindanao Philippines Incorporated (GMPI) – the project proponent and local implementing partner, MSU-IIT and volunteers, Iligan City Government and the Philippine Business for Social Progress . (Danny Escabarte/PBSP)