Sunday, 29 November 2009

President promises support for CNN Hero

PGMA orders DepEd to replicate ‘kariton’ classrooms in Metro Manila

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo directed education officials to find out how the “kariton classrooms,” for which Efren Penflorida won the CNN Hero of the Year award, can be replicated in Metro Manila, “where there is a high non-participation rate of youths in schools and learning.”

The President had just conferred Penaflorida the Order of Sikatuna. The ceremonies held in Malacañang Palace were attended by Education Secretary Jesli Lapus, Presidential Adviser on Education Mona Valisno, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde and Presidential Election Lawyer Romulo Makalintal.

“First identify the area with the highest non-performance rate, then identify the point person who will implement the program,” the President told Valisno and Lapus.

The President then asked Penaflorida “to help implement this project. We need your guidance in this field.”

Penaflorida explained the kariton classroom, which evolved from plastic bag to backpack and then to pushcart, was conceived by the Club 8586, a non-government organization associated with a Christian group in 1987 to address the high rate of school dropouts.

The 28-year old public school teacher from Cavite said he joined the Dynamic Teen Co. (DTC), a group under Club 8586, because he was constantly harassed and threatened by local gangs.

He said the kariton classroom program does not only teach children how to read and write. “We also impart to them good moral values and the need to observe personal hygiene. We feed them after every lesson because food is our way of enticing them to join us in our lessons,” he said.

He teaches in a public school in Cavite from Monday to Friday to support himself. On Saturdays, he pushes the cart, which contains educational materials, play things, and food, to the poor areas to teach children from age 4 up to teenagers.

The President could not contain her admiration for this CNN hero, his mother, his DTC mentor and his fellow volunteer-teachers “for your dedication in helping your less fortunate brothers and sisters who need to learn new skills they need in life.”

In the end, the President handed Penaflorida an envelope with a check “to help you fund your operations. Tell us what you need and we will try to help you,” she said. (PND)

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