Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Clearing our waterways -- Bued's Success Story

A week after Typhoon Ondoy, with 400 people killed and billions of pesos worth of damage and loss, people are beginning to realize that all these could have been minimized, or even avoided, IF we did not allow our waterways to be a free-for-all dumping site. Now there is an urgent call to unclog our drainage, clear our creeks and rivers, and instill proper waste management. Local executives are even threated to land in jail if they refuse to cooperate. If only local ordinances, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 (RA 9003) and the Clean Water Act of 2004 (RA 9275) were enforced and properly inculcated right after they were enacted long time ago then we could have had a lesser burden now. The thought reminds me of my MA thesis which is an ethnographic report about a flood-prone village in a peri-urban area in the Northern Philippines. Through persistent efforts of their local leaders, they were able to clean and revive their biologically dead river and inculcate proper waste management practices in every household. Below are excerpts from that study which is entitled "The Greening of a Local Community."

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Barangay Bued is located in Calasiao, Pangasinan. It is a town known for its puto (rice cupcake), a favorite “pasalubong” (take home gift) among travelers in the area and tourists from other parts of the country. The main road by the plaza has a long line of commercial stalls displaying huge mounds of its own brand of rice cupcake. This native treat is characteristically small, about half the size of a ping-pong ball. It comes in white or amber with a soft and chewy texture, a bit sticky, and sweet. It is worth the detour—something that motorists have to do to buy some since the town plaza is not along the main highway. During an extremely heavy downpour, however, motorists would think twice before passing by the area since it is prone to severe flooding.

The town lies on a major route that connects the three cities in the province. Due to the town’s flat topography, it is often among the worst hit when flood submerges the province. The town’s 24 barangays are usually subjected to moderate flooding and, occasionally, severe flooding. And severe means floodwater reaches the rooftop. The same record states that that flooding is due to two nearby hydropower plants, known to release water during a heavy rainfall (Land Use Plan, 2000). And another hydropower plant—considered Asia’s largest—has just been constructed in close proximity.

Barangay Bued is geographically located at the central region of the province. The town lies on a major earthquake fault line, the San Manuel fault line. Its relatively flat terrain makes it favorable to urban development. Hence, though its land use is still predominantly agricultural, there has been a trend of using former agricultural lands for urban land purposes to accommodate the spill over of robust commercial activities from the nearby business and educational centers of neighboring cities. (Land Use Plan, 2000).

The barangay has an area of 158.3 hectares and a population of 5,500 as of 2000. According to an estimate, by year 2010, the population would reach 7,123 with a density of 45 individuals per hectare (Barangay Bued Experience, 2004). Though it occupies only 2.9% of the total land area of the municipality, Barangay Bued is known to be the third most populated and fourth densest barangay. It is linguistically homogenous since 94.8% of its population speaks the local language (Land Use Plan, 2000).

There are two main streets in the village and they are lined with tightly clustered houses. Landmarks in the community include an elementary and a high school, several printing presses, a large hotel-restaurant, and several small shops. Perpendicular to the major thoroughfares are some tiny alleys that lead to some more houses. As one walks deeper into the alleys, he would find a river and at the other side, some vast farm lots.

One prominent structure in the community is a multinational beverage plant. Going north, it stands at the left side of the road, a few meters from the Barangay’s boundary. The plant displays two giant beverage can models, about the same height as the building adjacent to it. For travelers, the plant signals that one has reached Barangay Bued. Previously, a traveler need not peep through his vehicle’s window to know that he has reached Barangay Bued. One just had to sniff the air.

Getting Rid of its Signature Smell
The journey of Barangay Bued into environmental care began with a dream to revive a dying river. The Parongking River, a tributary of the Sinocalan River System that traverses the village was once classified as a dying river, a victim of pollution from factories, agricultural run-off, and household wastes from the residents. It was a well-known joke among travelers that even in pitch darkness or with eyes closed, they knew they were passing by Barangay Bued because of the foul smell emitted by the river. A resident called it as the Barangay’s signature smell. A newspaper article reported, “Even those aboard air-conditioned vehicles still complained of the odor that emanated from the river” (Fuertes, 2000e).

In early 1997, a woman journalist and a resident near Barangay Bued approached the incumbent barangay captain of Bued to present a complaint about the river. With the barangay chairman’s approval, she tapped the help of the Women in Development Foundation and organized the first meeting for the revival of Parongking River in February 1997 at a local restaurant. Earlier, the Foundation scored a victory by stopping a cement factory from putting up a plant in another town in the province.
The meeting to revive the river was attended by officials and residents of Barangay Bued and an adjacent barangay, representatives from factories along the riverbanks, concerned agencies, and environmentalist groups. Foremost in its agenda was the presentation of a laboratory result of a water test undertaken by a nearby state university. The test confirmed their suspicion that the river water was silted with toxic elements. An earlier test taken by the DENR did not show anything unusual, that is why they decided to bring samples to another institution. A series of meetings followed during which proposals to revive Parongking were presented.

While the meetings were ongoing, Kapitan Dion (the newly elected barangay chairman at that time) brought some barangay officers to start the manual cleaning of the river. They used their bare hands, some crude implements like rakes, shovels, and sticks. The cleaning process continued and some people stood at the side and watched. After two months of manual cleaning, the barangay leaders realized that they were moving slowly and so they decided to write a letter to the governor requesting for a backhoe. Their request was granted and the backhoe was provided for a month to lighten their load and hasten the dredging process. After three months, the first phase of the major cleaning and dredging project of the river was completed. Overall, 250 linear meters were dredged and 500 meters were cleared to widen the river (Fuertes, 2000a).

Kapitan Dion said in an interview that he believed that the river would flow once more; that the water will be clear and fishes will come back. He also expressed that their initiative to clean the river by themselves was because they got tired of waiting for the government to act on their previous request to revive their water. They hoped that their move “will open the eyes and hearts of apathetic government officials” (Fuertes, 1997). Joining Kapitan Carlito Dion were Yolly Fuertes, a journalist, and Janet Albano, a high school science teacher. Members of the barangay council, the principals of three schools in the Barangay, religious associations, NGOs, and community-based organizations also took part. They formed a local organization called Eco-Care Management Group.

As the community was quietly cleaning their river, some government and NGO officials took notice. Other community-based organizations would sometimes come over to help. Excitement began to build up as local residents unpretentiously worked to clean the river. As a result, the group that met with the aim to revive the river decided to formalize their organization, calling themselves Kalikasang Vigilantes. A series of awareness building and community education programs were conceptualized and implemented. Other activities included a symposium on Environment Stakeholders, a motorcade on Earth Day, and a showing of the movie Puerto Princesa, which depicted the preservation of Palawan’s environment. The day also included the launching of the River Revival Project at the Parongking River. KVP evolved into a foundation and the group adopted the name Kalikasang Vigilantes—Save the Parongking River Ecosystem Foundation Inc (KVP-SPARE). It was a loose coalition of initial members that include 13 heads of LGUs, four national government agencies, private institutions, and concerned individuals all committed to Parongking’s revival.

Wala Kayong Laban Diyan (You are not Qualified to Fight)
A few months after cleaning the river, the water was again full of sludge that reportedly came from untreated wastewater of the beverage plant. Kapitan Dion and his team suspected that a major culprit to the river’s degraded condition was the Plant. They observed that the pipes coming from the plant flushed out bluish, greasy, and smelly liquid waste. Kapitan Dion and some residents by the riverside would keep vigil at night to wait for the plant to flush out its waste. They would collect some samples and observe them for days. To make the matter worse, a regional official of the DENR discouraged the group in their effort to put a stop to the plant’s environmentally harmful practices by saying that they were up against a giant company.” Wala kayong laban diyan the official said. But Kapitan Dion replied, “We are not discouraged. We will fight for our right for a clean environment even if it means fighting against a giant company” (Fuertes, 2000a).

Bued’s leaders stood their ground and explored other means. They released press reports in some local papers and later presented their case to the Senate Committee on Environment. The senator who headed the committee heeded their appeal and issued an official warning that was published on paper that he would initiate an investigation. Barangay Bued residents were also being prepared to stage protest actions in front of the plant. A DENR official gave an ultimatum that the plant could pack up if they refuse to comply. Finally, the plant’s management acceded and built a 37 million pesos waste treatment facility, their largest and most expensive waste treatment facility in the country.

Three years after the first major river clean up, life began to creep into the river. Continuous cleaning is done by the Barangay Bued Integrated Farmers Association. The farmers also planted mahogany trees along the banks to protect the river from erosion. A local newspaper reported:
It’s summer, that time of the year when Parongking would be at its ripest. But nobody is complaining now. Reason: the river has been cleared and cleaned of pungent debris. Its water is clear now, although not as clear as we would have wanted it to be because of lack of headwater. There are fish there now (Fuertes, 2000b).


Let’s Segregate!
Right after the first major river clean up, the barangay council passed a resolution prohibiting the dumping of household waste into the river. Since the people did not know where to dispose their trash, the barangay council decided to collect the garbage from each household. They found a possible dumpsite in Barangay Banaoang in a neighboring town. They signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Mayor and agreed to pay a certain fee. However, the moment the garbage truck entered the premises of Barangay Banaoang, the residents saw “Bued” on truck and they immediately blocked the truck from coming in.

As recourse, Barangay Bued’s leaders chose to use one of their farm-to-market roads to serve as their dumpsite. They were stunned to discover that in little time the space would be filled up so quickly. They requested fuel donation from the nearby beverage company and started burning the garbage heap. Some waste debris would be blown into the rice fields and farmers began to complain. Kapitan Dion said, “I was not happy with our process. After much thinking, I said, let’s segregate!” In year 2000, they mobilized their homegrown organization Eco-Care Management Group to teach residents how to segregate their waste. Unable to gather enough people to attend organized meetings, Eco-Care officers went house-to-house, like itinerant preachers. Bringing with them samples of waste materials, they demonstrated to residents how to segregate waste. The barangay council made a resolution that unsegregated waste will not be collected by the garbage collectors of the Barangay. They required that every household segregate its waste before putting them out for collection. Every Monday, plastic and bottles were collected, on Wednesday tin cans and on Friday, wrappers and cartons were collected. The recyclable materials were sold and the money went to the wages of the garbage collectors.

At first, they asked residents to dig a compost pit at their backyard for their biodegradable waste. Only the non-biodegradable trash would be collected by the garbage collector. However, some households did not have a space for a compost pit so that the barangay garbage collectors had to take the biodegradable waste too. Another reason that backyard composting did not work out was because the area was prone to flooding. The beverage plant donated 250 segregators and a pick-up truck to be used in garbage collection. Five garbage collectors were hired and were called “Bio-Men.” A waste processing center called “Bued Recycling Center” was put up. Collected waste was segregated further and recyclable materials were brought to junkyards. A crude and simple backyard composting system was applied for the biodegradable waste.

Every event in the Barangay was used to preach segregation and environmental-care values. Recycling became a permanent theme of barangay fiestas. One time, when such fiesta was featured in a national newspaper, a private waste management enterprise took notice and they went to present their products to the Barangay. Kapitan Dion and his team went to visit the company’s showroom at Tarlac and saw how waste was processed using hammermills, composting drums and enzymes. “This would work!” thought the group and after obtaining an appropriation of 125,000 pesos from the mayor, they purchased a five horsepower electric operated hammer-mill (used to grind biodegradable waste to expedite composting process), several composting drums, and their initial supply of the enzyme that accelerate decomposition. In the previous method of crude backyard composting, biodegradable waste would be spread on the ground and would be mixed manually. It would take 1 ½ months to complete the composting process, while newly collected waste materials continued to pile up. Now, with the composting drums and composting enzyme, compost was produced in just seven days. The enzyme also removes the stench and keeps the flies away. Equipped with new waste processing technology, Barangay Bued’s Recycling Center was relocated to the farm lot of Kapitan Dion, which was more accessible to the barangay center. Soon, officials from DENR began to take notice. News about the recycling center began to be known and visitors from other places, as far as Zamboanga City began to come regularly to check on the Barangay’s waste management practices. A shed to accommodate meetings and training sessions was set up at the waste-recycling center.

Rescuing the Municipality from Garbage Crisis
There came a time in 2001 when Barangay Bued rescued the entire municipality from its own garbage crisis. It happened when right after the former mayor lost the re-election, the municipal dumpsite was closed without prior announcement. It was because the lot owner of the dumpsite was a relative of the defeated mayor. Men were placed to bar garbage trucks from coming in. Even after some pleadings, the dumpsite’s operation was not extended even for a single day. As a result, garbage piled up, especially at the market. It was alleged that the move to close the dumpsite was meant to embarrass the newly elected mayor. It so happened that the new mayor came from Barangay Bued, a friend and former classmate of Kapitan Dion. He immediately called the Eco-Care Management Group to set in place intermediate measures to avert the looming garbage crisis in the municipality. Tents were set up at the market to segregate and process the waste. They scouted for a permanent waste processing center and found a space at Barangay Malabago. Barangay Bued’s waste processing facilities were transferred to the center. Giant composting drums and other machines were purchased through a bank loan to accommodate the municipal waste. High school students who are members of the Earth Savers Club along with their adviser, Janet Albano, were regularly fielded to several poblacion barangays to teach people how to segregate their waste. Kapitan Dion became the Project Director of the municipality’s solid waste management program. Eco-Care officers were tapped by the municipality to spend a few hours a day to do community work on waste management that includes giving orientation and lectures to visitors in the waste processing center.

Kapitan Dion and his team began to be invited to various meetings organized by DENR. In many instances, they served as resource persons to other barangays and municipalities. In the process of their interfaces with DENR, they learned to conform to some standardized practices. At that time, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 was just being introduced. The waste-processing center, formerly called “recycling and composting center”, was renamed as Materials Recovery Facility, the official and standard name for such facility. In late 2003, the Barangay submitted an entry for the Nationwide Search for Model Barangay for Eco Waste Management System. The contest provides the standard of an ideal waste management system for a barangay and it was these contest criteria that compelled Kapitan Dion and his team to modify some of their waste management practices. They stopped using the municipal MRF and built their own. They changed their collection system to conform to the requirements of the contest. Kapitan Dion and his team had difficulty in compiling data for their entry and they realized that much of what they did were undocumented. They reasoned that they did not do so because joining a contest or getting recognition was far in their mind. At the end, Barangay Bued bagged the fourth place and received a prize of 100,000 pesos.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Paalam, Tita Cory!



I pay tribute to the woman who showed a poetic example of loving God, country, and family beyond self. Thank you, Tita Cory, for rising above your private comfortable life to fight for freedom and democracy,especially during a time when success was uncertain.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

New MLE DepEd Order

Thank God that the new MLE DepED order is now finally signed! You can download it from the DepEd Website

Saturday, July 4, 2009

EFA 2015: The Grand Alliance strategy

Below is an article written by someone I deeply respect and admire for his passion and hard work in promoting EDUCATION in the real sense of the word. He was part of the Philippine delegation in the launching of EFA in Jomtien. In our TEDP loop, he lamented the fact that instead of becoming education for all, EFA has virtually been perceived and implemented as "schooling for all."

The constant school drop out rate (out of 10 grade one entrants, 4 of them won't finish grade six) over the past 30 years indicates that we need to think beyond schooling to make all our citizens functionally literate. In reality, various groups are promoting functional literacy tho they do not call it as such. They include cooperatives where members learn "business math" as they compute their patronage refund and interests of their savings. AVON and Natasha ladies strengthen their reading and computing skills through those colorful catalogues. Bible sharing groups read and analyze verses and engage in lively debates. Bgy health workers teach women to read medicine labels and read and interpret thermometers. Junk shops or environmentalist groups teach their collectors various classification of recyclable materials, including alternative ways to measure quantity and quality. These groups are more effective in promoting functional literacy because reading and writing are done in a particular context of need (usually economic in nature). They are also not bound by an English Only policy and therefore free to use the mother tongue and popular education methods. They are not confined in a classroom (where things are represented by drawings) but they are in places (like junkshops/MRF) where they can actually handle the real thing. Compare those groups to the traditional literacy classes where participants are stigmatized as they are labeled as illiterates.

These beyond schooling educators are to supposed to join the grand alliance for EFA. I suppose this might take quite a process since they have to know that they are actually doing functional literacy programs (and not just promoting cooperativism or environmental awareness, or what some groups call "life skills").

A backgrounder of Education For All (EFA)--

EFA is a global movement led by UNESCO, aiming to meet the learning needs of all children, youth and adults by 2015. The movement was launched in 1990 at the World Conference on Education for All in Jomtien, Thailand. There, representatives of the international community (155 countries, as well as representatives from some 150 organizations) agreed to "universalize primary education and massively reduce illiteracy by the end of the decade". In 2000, ten years later, the international community met again in Dakar, Senegal, and took stock of many countries being far from having reached this goal. They affirmed their commitment to achieving Education for All by the year 2015, and identified six key measurable education goals which aim to meet the learning needs of all children, youth and adults by 2015.

The six goals are:

* Goal 1: Expand early childhood care and education
* Goal 2: Provide free and compulsory primary education for all
* Goal 3: Promote learning and life skills for young people and adults
* Goal 4: Increase adult literacy by 50 per cent
* Goal 5: Achieve gender parity by 2005, gender equality by 2015
* Goal 6: Improve the quality of education


Inquirer Opinion / Columns
http://opinion.inquirer.net/inquireropinion/columns/view/20090704-213773/EFA-2015-The-Grand-Alliance-strategy

Commentary : EFA 2015: The Grand Alliance strategy

By Napoleon B. Imperial
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Posted date: July 04, 2009

Almost 10 years since the inception of the second decade of the Education For All movement and with just six years left before it closes in 2015, I just discovered how little most people in the country’s education community know about EFA. What is startling is that the innocence afflicts those who are supposed to be in the inner circle of the movement of what is supposed to be the EFA Grand Alliance at the national and sub-national levels.

You might have been wondering how different it is from the day-to-day business of the Department of Education (DepEd) in general and basic education in particular.

I hope that the following foreword I have written for the Mid-Decade Monitoring and Evaluation Report in 2007 will shed more light and deepen everyone’s perspectives. Beyond mere understanding, the new perspective of delivering what for whom may spur some thinking and action for innovating basic education so that it will be enjoyed by and benefit all.

Attaining functional literacy in the country in the next 10 EFA years is not just about schools and schooling. It is about education. In line with the World Declaration on Education for All embodied in both the Jomtien Declaration and the Dakar Framework, we would like to meet the totality of the so-called Basic Learning Needs (BLNs) of Filipinos of all ages and circumstances. This is to be pursued within EFA’s “expanded vision of education” in a manner that will fulfill our people’s basic human right.

This is not the usual type of educational planning. Our EFA 2015 Plan of Action’s significance to the country and the international education community lies more in its being a document of political will, imagination and creativity that should address long-persistent problems of basic education. This is about harnessing technical change or new ways of doing things that have been proven valid, feasible and desirable in the past in order that the marginalized, those outside or shut out of school system, those in danger of getting out of the school system, special groups and gender disadvantaged may be redeemed and prevented from further marginalization.

The school remains as the backbone of our educational delivery system. We would like to improve on it as the conventional venue for teaching and learning. However, for all the natural limitations and social and financial constraints of the school system to attract, enroll and keep children in schools, EFA 2015 is a time to maximize the use of educational innovations and technology, both simple and appropriate or advance, where applicable, to reach out to and keep more children and enable them to learn better. This way, we can move toward universalizing quality primary education and making secondary education more accessible to all.

Schooling need not be the end and sole venue for acquiring functional skills needed for life. We realized during the past 15 years since EFA 1 that if we would depend on the schools alone, we would not be able to provide education to All educable Filipinos. Thus, consistent with the EFA vision, it is also our intention to deliver or cause to deliver the BLNs via the non-school modalities. Those who cannot be accommodated in schools or choose learning outside the classroom have the Alternative Learning System or ALS as an option for our youths and adults from all social classes. With ALS, they can utilize their prior learning and go on learning and be empowered by the basic but useful competencies to survive and develop themselves for greater upward social mobility.

Whether in school or out of school, such learning shall be delivered with quality assurance anchored on the Philippine concept of “functionality.” With this as the hallmark of the plan, gaining “life skills” will be afforded to all Filipino learners.

The Department of Education, thankfully, is not alone in the pursuit of this goal and provision of the BLNs for all. Full partnership with the key stakeholders, particularly those responsible for delivery, planning and funding, is operationalized under the Grand Alliance for EFA prescribed by the World Declarations. Hence, a new way of looking at and counting, allocating and mobilizing financial and non-monetary resources has been launched under EFA. These processes will be orchestrated under one strategy and governance so that with the comprehensive set of old and new monitoring and evaluation indicators attuned to the educational objectives, the synchronized efforts will bring out commonly desired results preferably at the scheduled time.

Lastly and with a sense of humility, EFA 2015 and its Grand Alliance strategy behoove learning from and capitalizing on the past experiences of our successes, pitfalls and inadequacies. Through this strategy, we hope to ensure continuity, coherence of purpose and complementation of efforts regardless of management and administrations until the year 2015.

(Napoleon B. Imperial (nbimperial@bayanmail.com.ph) is former assistant coordinator of the EFA Project Management Team and an education reform advocate.)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

the crafting of the new MLE DepEd Order

One Friday morning last week, I was in a cozy rustic bahay kubo in the DepEd compound to help finalize the draft of the DepEd order that seeks to institutionalize MLE in all schools. Facilitating the process was Nap Imperial of NEDA and some feisty DepEd lady execs (including a former DepEd Secretary). It's heartwarming to see their youthful sense of humor and gentle courage having managed to introduce innovations and significant changes in such a gargantuan organization.

We finished the task at around 2:30 pm. It was certainly a serendipitous moment. We were all in a celebratory mood. I do hope and pray that the document will be signed into a DO to complement DO #60 which authorized the use of MLE.

The features of the new MLE DO are the following:
-institutionalization of MLE in all public and private schools from pre-school to high school
-the use of mother tongue as the language of learning and instruction (it evolved from MOI to LOI to LOLI)
-mother tongue as a subject in all levels and LOI in all subjects (including English and Filipino)
-the establishment of an MLE support system (orthography devt, locally developed instructional materials, community participation, teachers training, etc)
-contextualized MLE implementation thru local MLE TWGs
-proper bridging process to introduce additional local/foreign languages. The bridging also involves starting with oral fluency (listening and speaking) and moving towards reading and writing
-Tagalog speaking areas to learn another local language as their L3
-MLE certification process

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

informal learning

below are my recent posts in my homeschooling egroup (i homeschooled my kids for 7 years before integrating them in a regular school in 2000)

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I was watching the morning news by a major local TV station when they featured a project of the TV foundation in which they donated an ETV package (TV, DVD player, educational tapes) to a grade school in one remote town in Apayao. In the opening of the segment, there was a scene of a 9 year old boy living near a forest tending some chicken and pigs. He was described as most unfortunate because he entered the school at a very late age (how can he be unfortunate when he did not have to suffer the indignities of going to a school at a very early age?).

At the end of the segment, the punch line was – Now that the children in Apayao have an ETV, they will no longer be educationally deprived, especially in Science. What? Didn’t they see that boy living amidst a rich environment of flora and fauna? And they think that teaching thru a small two dimensional idiot box is the best way to teach Science? What the boy had was far better than learning Science thru the most colorful Science encyclopedia or some video materials. Who knows, the boy might be a real scientist. It is just unfortunate that he’s not able to verbalize what he knows thru a textbook type language which is recognized by our society as the legitimate means to express knowledge.
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i-thank-God-i-homeschool-moment
This morning we wake up with the cold heavy rains and the news about a school suspending its classes due to H1N1 flu infection among one of its students. Aren't you glad you homeschool?

During these cold rainy mornings, your kids can snuggle and sleep a little longer or sit beside the window and enjoy the sight of raindrops, while most of their peers while it still dark (and rainy) are yanked out of their bed, would grudgingly take a shower, get dressed, eat a quick breakfast, put on their raincoat, walk to the corner to wait for the school bus, and endure a long day supposedly learning about the world while walled in in a small dreary cramped room. And these poor kids face a greater risk of getting infected with that dreadful flu.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The unquestioned logic of teaching through an unfamiliar language

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At least Bartimeus knew that he was blind. Upon hearing that Jesus is in town, he cried like crazy calling for Jesus to come and make him see.

For decades of struggling to use an unfamiliar language in classrooms for the supposed intention of formal education which is to enlighten ignorant minds, no loud objections have ever been raised. Making learning a torturous experience by using English in classrooms when the teacher can very well speak the child’s home language, has long been an unquestioned logic. It was like speaking, reading, and writing in English and being educated are one and the same. Teachers overlooked the fact that the real purpose of education is to enable children to see and understand the world clearly. A perplexing thought especially if we consider that teachers spend at least four years analyzing the process of learning. Children who failed the mark and eventually dropped out were blamed for being slow or problematic.

Actually, one does not need to refer to sophisticated theories and research reports to understand that teaching thru the child’s home language is most logical. The ancient book tells us that when God wanted to build a relationship with human beings, he became like them. He, known as the Greatest Teacher, was born and spoke the human language. In one episode in Jerusalem God enabled his followers to speak miraculously in various tongues so that they could communicate the gospel to all the out-of-town visitors who trooped the city for the Feast of Pentecost.

I guess seeing the light is not the first thing we need. The first miracle we direly need is to realize and accept that all along we are blind and cannot see, and had the gumption to call ourselves “a teacher.”