NGO launches program to help marginalized children access alternative learning platforms

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 5) — Save The Children Philippines has rolled out a program to help disabled kids and those from poor households get access to alternative learning platforms amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through Project ARAL, or Access to Resources to Alternative Learning, the organization will be providing instructional audio content, videos, posters, and other educational and communication materials parents and caregivers can use in teaching their children, said Atty. Alberto Muyot, CEO of the non-governmental organization, at the Laging Handa press briefing on Friday.

"Ito po ay amin ngayon pong ipa-pilot doon po sa areas ng Caloocan, Navotas at saka Malabon, iyon pong aming mga project areas," he said. "[K]ami po ay naglalayon na mabigyan po ng access iyong mga bata doon po sa quality basic education kahit na po panahon nitong pandemic at hindi po sila makapunta sa eskuwelahan."

[Translation: We will pilot this in Caloocan, Navotas and Malabon, which are our project areas. We aim to provide kids there access to quality basic education despite the pandemic, which prevents them from going to school.]

There shall be modules for ages three to five, who are pre-primary learners; and ages six to twelve, who are receiving elementary education, Muyot said.

Those without smartphones or access to the Internet will also be given MP3 players and other devices along with hard copies of educational materials, he also said.

"We don’t want to leave any child behind," said Muyot. "Ang mahirap po kasi, Sec. Martin (Andanar), is that kung gagawin na po nating online, mayroon pong mga bata na ma-e-exclude. Kaya nga po ang atin pong pinu-push ay iyong tinatawag po talagang blended, iyong pagsamahin po natin ang both online at saka iyong offline learning."

[Translation: What's difficult, Sec. Martin, is that making everything online will exclude some children. That's why we are pushing for what we call blended (learning), wherein we will include both online and offline learning.]

All this will be done with the Department of Education's division offices in the project areas, along with child development centers there.

"[W]e hope that if it succeeds, it can be replicated in other local government units," said Muyot. "It takes a village to raise a child."

With the new school year slated to begin on August 24, DepEd is pushing for online and blended learning for students in line with restrictions on face-to-face learning.

However, President Rodrigo Duterte had expressed doubts on whether the country is ready to adopt such learning methods a few months before classes resume.