How bad is your commute to work or school?
Chances are, your daily traffic woes are no match to what the teachers and students of Trangka Elementary School in Maasin, Iloilo have to go through.
To get to the mountain school, some students have to walk four hours up a steep path. On rainy days, some of them would trudge muddy trails wearing nothing on their feet but plastic. They would arrive in school drenched, shaking, sleepy, and hungry.
Teachers, meanwhile, have to take on a two-hour hike while carrying a week’s worth of water and food, as most of them sleep in the school on week nights.
“Even though it’s difficult, we want to give the children here a good education,” said kindergarten teacher Gemaima Matrido. “It’s hard to teach them when they’re tired and hungry. You have to energize them by doing action songs.”
Matrido is thus thankful that she and her fellow teachers now have additional tools for heightening students’ interest in lessons despite the hardships they face every day.
Digital learning up in the mountains
Employees of PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications recently donated a School-in-a-Bag to Trangka Elementary School. This is a big backpack containing a laptop, tablets, TV, a solar panel with battery, pocket Wi-Fi, and various digital and printed educational content aligned with the official curriculum. The learning modules include a video series teaching preparedness for disasters like landslides – information that is highly relevant to the students.
The donation package also includes teacher training and yearlong monitoring.
Smart employees and their families sponsored the P100,000 kit by participating in a program called Smart Saturdays. For three Saturdays last year, employees were invited to watch blockbuster movies with their loved ones and buy special event shirts for a certain amount. The collected amount was enough to put together seven School-in-a-Bag kits for underserved schools.
The Smart Saturdays program is ongoing and is expected to raise more funds to benefit more far-flung schools.
“The students will definitely be more interested to go to school now. They have not yet been introduced to 21st century tools like tablets, laptop, and the internet,” said teacher Dexter Masiado.
Previous school-recipients of the Smart School-in-a-Bag have reported enhanced literacy and heightened interest in learning among their students.
More donations encouraged
“On behalf of the people of Maasin and Trangka Elementary School, taos puso po kaming nagpapasalamat sa mga empleyado ng Smart. Malaking bagay po ito sa mga bata. We hope some of them would become professionals in the future,” Maasin Councilor John Mondejar said. Mondejar was the one who got in touch with Smart to ask for a School-in-a-Bag donation for Trangka Elementary School.
“We are overwhelmed by our guests’ dedication to bring the School-in-a-Bag to our school. They went all the way from Metro Manila and Cebu to deliver this blessing. Indeed, nothing is impossible for people who really want to help,” said head teacher Edgardo Fruto.
So far, Smart and its partner donors have delivered 44 School-in-a-Bag units to learning communities all over the country. Those interested to help can email JLBayhonan@smart.com.ph for more details.