Literacy programme supports Filipino community during pandemic and beyond

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Pictured: Dr Judith Enriquez with children in the community learning hub in the Philippines - image taken by Larry Monserate Piojo

Senior Education Lecturer Dr Judith Enriquez has helped the community of Alapasco in the Philippines to continue to develop their literacy skills despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.

Initiated in early 2020, at the start of the Covid-19 outbreak when children and young people were no longer able to go to school, Dr Enriquez with Rey Bufi, founder of Basa Bookstore, used storytelling methods and an innovative community learning hub focused on audio-based learning to ensure access to education continued.

Audio-based learning broadcast from a community hub

The 4m-by-4m community learning hub was built by community members and equipped with a public address (PA) system with seven speakers mounted on trees to reach all the ‘sitios’ of the community. The use of audio-based learning meant that lessons could be heard while learners were at home during strict lockdown measures.

The hub was also resourced with children's books written in English, Tagalog and Hiligaynon (local languages), Samsung tablets donated by Smart Philippines and a 52-inch TV and chairs donated by the Rotary Club of Makati Olympia.

The hub continues to ensure that children have a place to borrow books and that stories can be read and lessons taught to the entire community using the PA system, reaching people in the local cornfields, while doubling as a useful tool for any important community announcements.

The hub also acts as a classroom that teachers continue to use to deliver modular lessons provided by the Department for Education of the Philippines.

‘Light in the darkness’

One teacher commented that the programme was like ‘light in the darkness’ enabling her to keep teaching the Alapasco children even when she couldn’t do so face-to-face.

The project, ‘Sari-Sari Education’ meaning ‘variety’ in Filipino, has been a coordinated effort with various local government officials, civil servants and Philippine-based artists with the teachers and students of the Alapasco Primary School led by Charma Palmero. 

Project supporters and collaborators

It has been supported by the Honorary Vice Major Ernesto Balida of the Municipality of Batad and Department of Education Public Schools District Supervisor Arturo N. Convocar.

The telling of stories through writing, drawing and photography have been captured and nurtured with the mentorship of local artists involved in the project including award-winning children’s book author and independent publisher Michael Jude Tumamac of Aklat Alamid Publishing House, Basa Bookstore co-founder and writer, Grace Bufi, and documentary photographer Larry Monserate Piojo.  

It has led to the development of a children’s book written and illustrated by three young people of Alapasco. Other creative talents in photography, poetry and other literary writing have also been identified.


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