At Caro Elementary School, teachers literally go the extra mile to ensure that no learners are left behind. Located on the outskirts of Isabela City in Basilan, teachers ride habal-habal or motorcycle taxis on bumpy roads, spending hundreds of pesos daily, just to reach this Tausug and Yakan community.
On top of conducting regular lessons, implementing Indigenous Peoples’ Education, and teaching Islamic Studies and Arabic Language, the teachers also hold feeding programs and fund-raising activities to keep learners in school. And when pupils stop attending classes to help their parents, the teachers trek up the mountains to encourage them to go back to school.
“We always look for ways to lessen the burden on parents, who are mostly farmers and charcoal makers. Thankfully, we have generous donors and groups like the Philippine Army who give free services for the kids,” shared School Head Fe Salisa.
The arrival of the School-in-a-Bag (SIAB), the portable digital classroom of Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart), brought a lot of excitement and a ray of hope for these dedicated educators. With the SIAB, the teachers are hopeful that more learners will be inspired to continue learning.
“Parents are excited about the School-in-a-Bag. This is one way to motivate them to send their children back to school. Now, we also have the digital tools for our summer program, to prepare learners for the next academic year,” Salisa added.
The School-in-a-Bag donation was made possible by the partnership of PLDT, Smart, the United States Agency for International Development through RTI International, and Philippine Business for Social Progress. Each package contains tablets pre-loaded with educational content including USAID’s All Children Reading E-resource and mobile applications, like the Tahderriyah and Ta’allam literacy apps, to help make learning more fun and effective. It also has a laptop, connectivity devices, and a lapel for the teachers.