Dr. Rufina Cruz, WMSU Vice President for Research, Extension and Development (RED), said WMSU signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with DepEd to jointly supervise the boat school, the first of its kind in the country.
Inaugurated early last year, the “floating school” aims to formally open its free education early next month.
A three-million peso structure, the “floating school,” partially funded by the Australian government, is housed in a twin hull boat, a catamaran type vessel. The entire structure has open air classrooms, a library, and a faculty room. The boat has five crew members aside from its teaching staff.
The unique strategy of the floating school plan, a brainchild of Dr. Carmen T. Ramos under WMSU’s Comprehensive Outreach Program for Barangay (COPBA), won the WMSU a People's Choice Award in the 2005 World Bank Panibagong Paraan.
Dr. Cruz said they have conducted the orientation and initial listing of students.
She said they are targeting to pilot it in the coastal barangay of Mariki and the neighboring villages.
Mariki, one of the most remote villages in the city, is home to mostly Sama and Badjao people, the indigenous peoples in the area.
“Our team has initially listed more than a hundred students,” Dr. Cruz said, adding that the students will be divided into different classes and grade level, depending on the results of the assessment test conducted by DepEd-ALS.
She said the floating school will mainly provide free non-formal basic education to children, including the unschooled adults.
WMSU President Dr. Grace Rebollos earlier said the Floating School program will also teach basic skills courses to the Sama and Badjao families.
“We will be also offering courses later on food processing, dressmaking, handicrafts, production of the indigenous fishing gear and boat-making and it will educate parents on proper health care, novelty nutrition, and responsible parenting," Dr. Rebollos said.
She said the program is also planning to provide some stipend to the students to encourage attendance in school. Teaching strategies, she added, were also especially designed to be lively and interactive.
“All the educational materials including school supplies will be provided for free to every student,” Dr. Cruz added. DepEd, on the other hand, will shoulder the salary of the hired teaching staff.
The floating school will also be sent to the different coastal villages in the city to cater to more residents.
Dr. Cruz appealed to concerned government line agencies to help WMSU maintain this program, which is now currently supervised by WMSU’s Department of Extension Services and Community Development. (Nung Aljani/ MindaNews)