Education outcomes up in Sarangani

Parents in New Canaan, one of the most remote and unvisited barangays in Alabel, Sarangani dream that their children graduate from college or at least finish Grade 6. But Analie Eday, a lumad like them, knows that as an education worker, her first order of the day is for the children to learn how to read because that is the parents’ more frequently mentioned and telling aspiration everytime she talks to them.

So what motivates Analie: “I am offended at seeing my fellow lumads exploited simply because they do not know how to read and write. That is motivation enough for me,” she said.

The barangay residents hardly had any idea what life is like beyond the mountains until 2009 when the provincial government led by a young Governor Miguel Dominguez, started bringing education to them with help from private companies and civil society group. 

Building on its non-conformist leadership and youthful base, the provincial government launched an umbrella program called Quality Education for Sarangani Today (QUEST). Developed with technical guidance from Synergeia Foundation, QUEST’s reform strategies include increasing awareness of the province’s state of education, supporting public school teachers and improving the performance of elementary school pupils.

At the helm of QUEST is the governor’s younger sister Cecille who was then executive director of the Alcantara Foundation, another key partner of the province in education reform.   

Although much is yet  to be done, QUEST ticks off some early results: 10,000 Grade 1 and 2 pupils benefitted, 28 primary schools opened, 57 primary schools made into complete elementary schools, 33 integrated schools established,  workbooks for pupils and manuals for teachers were developed, 11,000 youth returned to school and 50,000 parents were trained to become mentors.

What about reading? The Sarangani Big Brother, a summer reading camp for children has become so successful DepEd Undersecretary Rizalino Rivera has declared it will soon become a national program.

Education Secretary Br. Armin A. Luistro FSC is thankful to DepEd education partners. “Investing in education can never go wrong because the positive social impact of its dividends is intangible and incapable of monetary estimation,” he explained.  

The efforts of QUEST and its education workers translate to the province topping the 2012 National Achievement Test results across  Region 12, from only number 9 in 2007. And official figures state that 8 of 10 Sarangani children now have access to education compared to only 4 before 2007. 

QUEST is now replicated in Tampakan, South Cotabato, Koronadal City, Semirara, Antique, Compostela Valley and Palawan. 

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