Written by Princess  Shahanee Daug

When asked about his most memorable experience about teaching in the Alternative Learning System (ALS) in Kalawit, Zamboanga del Norte, Elmer “Jun” Baguio Jr. smiled as he reminisced: “Umakyat ng bundok (Going to the mountains).”

“Doon ko na-realize na pag pinuntahan mo pala yung learners  lalo  na  pag  na  sa  bundok,  ang  sarap  sa pakiramdam nila na na-apreciate sila. Doon   ko naramdaman na, doon pala sa bundok kailangan nila ng teacher talaga (I realized that if I go to the learners in the mountain,  they feel appreciated.  Being there made me feel that they really need a teacher in the area),” Jun shared his sentiments about conducting home visitations as part of his job.

Jun is an ALS implementer trained under SUGPAT’s   Power   for   Youth   (PFY)   program, partnership with UNICEF and ING which supports the Department of   Education’s development thrust to enhance the current ALS Program.

Originally from  Pampanga, Jun traveled all the way to Mindanao to complete his education and find a living. In 2016, he completed his degree in  Elementary  Education at  Medina  Foundation  College,  Misamis Occidental. In the same year, he passed the licensure examination for teachers (LET).

Zooming in on ALS

According  to  DepEd,  out -of-school youth (OSY),  drop-outs, and a lack of schools in communities are some of the reasons why there’s a need to have ALS. OSCY refers to persons aged 15 to 24 years who are not attending school, have not finished any college or post-secondary course, and are not working.

When Jun was asked why he conducted his classes in a covered court stage instead inside the classroom, he said the learners preferred to have it there.

“Sinasadya ko rin po diyan kasi malapit sa daycare center. Most of my learner, parent sila nung (mga bata). Kaya habang nagka-klase yung anak nila, nagkaklase din po ako. (I intentionally conduct  it  here  because  it’s near the daycare center. Most of my students are also parents. While waiting for their children, I also facilitate their learning),” Jun stated.

Based  on  the  2016  Annual Poverty Indicators Survey (APIS), the most common reasons for being OSCY in the Philippines are due to marriage or family matters (42.3%), followed by family income (20.2%), and lack of personal interest (19.7%).

Apart from his own struggles as a teacher, Jun shared how he often gets emotional because of his students’ stories. Some are hesitant to attend the class after a long absence, other’s excuse themselves because they need to take care of their children, their farm, or their animals.

Under these circumstances, he still ensures that the students get to learn something from his class.

“Hindi ako yung partikular na ilang topics yung natatapos ko, ang importante may natututunan sila. Mabilis ka nga, wala naman silang natututunan paano na ‘yun? (I’m not that particular about the  amount  of  topics  I  covered,  the  important  thing  is  they  learn.  Yes  you’re  fast,  but  the students did not get anything, what’s going to happen?),” Baguio said.

Jun also emphasizes the importance of flexibility. If there’s an instance that his student cannot catch up with the lesson, he designs an alternative activity that is best suited for that learner’s ability.

Enriched with the skills he learned from the SUGPAT PFY program, he’s able to make sure that his  students  are  ready  to  take  the  assessment  and  even  advance  to the next level.

Every Dream Matters

The SUGPAT PFY program allowed teachers like Jun to create a society where every OSY  is  transformed  from  being  mere  statistics  into  being  youth  champions  and empowered citizens.

This is made possible through conducting activities that enhance the existing ALS program such as training of trainers on the contextualization and delivery of life skills modules, monitoring and evaluation, and creation of the youth development alliance.

“SUGPAT PFY program has a great  impact as an ALS  teacher. The contextualized worksheets and  the  training  they  extend   to  us   will help develop and improve our teaching to be more effective and to provide meaningful teaching experience to ALS learners,” Jun expressed.

Staying true to its notion that every dream matters, SUGPAT continuously offers its help to the ALS teachers. Amidst the pandemic, SUGPAT conducted webinars and other training to help teachers like Jun in strategizing to cater to the ALS learners, and inspire them to continue schooling, be part of trainings, and participate in community activities.

Jun is just one of the many ALS implementers that goes out of their way to fulfill the dream of their students. Looking forward to the day of producing quality learners, he is advancing his way to make that happen.

“Pangarap ko syempre masunod yung gusto nila sa buhay. Pangarap ko na yung pangarap din nila  matupad  nila  sa  tulong  ko…  kasi  yun  naman  talaga  dapat  yung  goal  eh (My dream of course is to follow what they want in life. I wish to see them reach their dream with my help… because that should be my goal as their teacher),” Jun said with determination.

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