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Public schools in the Philippines suffer from a lack of resources and learning materials. The COVID-19 pandemic emphasized this more as schools transitioned to distance and modular learning.
Amid the pandemic, a content producer and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) councilor recognized the hardships of Pinagtong-ulan Integrated National High School (PINHS)—a public high school in Lipa, Batangas. Through social media and constant interactions with the barangay folk, Janelle Lorzano reached out to the PINHS community to ensure that no one gets left behind.
PINHS has a limited budget for distance learning, lacks electronic devices and modules, and its students struggle with limited access to the internet, according to Janelle.
“The students and teachers answered a survey to properly address the problem. After conducting the survey and addressing its solutions, I consulted the high school principal if these solutions could help the community. During my first visit last October, I was given a chance to personally talk to the teachers where they told me their struggles,” Janelle shares.
Based on the survey answers and visits, Janelle implemented three projects—Pahiram, Ugnayan and Pag-abot—to help the PINHS community.
“Social media became vital in this journey. The inspiring stories of students doing their best just to cope during the pandemic made me more eager to help them,” Janelle shares, citing how her jobs played a vital role in her projects.
Pahiram was patterned after the Angat Buhay initiative of the Office of the Vice President. This aims to lend used but working mobile devices to assist students in blended learning and communicate with their teachers.
Ugnayan provides prepaid load for mobile internet to help students with research and other school activities. The initiative allows one barangay resident to provide P50 of load per week or P200 of load per month to one or more students.
Meanwhile, Pag-abot calls for in-kind donations such as bond papers, pens, pencils, intermediate pads and other school supplies. Donors can drop off their donations at Barangay Pinagtong-ulan’s Barangay Hall or coordinate with the SK officials.
Admittedly, Janelle initially struggled in convincing her fellow ka-barangays to participate.
“I just tried my luck when I announced it on our official Facebook page. I told myself, ‘If no one sponsors my project, I will still continue, using my money.’ During the first day, many students reached out for assistance, but no one filled out the Google forms to be a donor. I couldn’t explain the feeling since I knew many people were also financially unstable at the time. I just kept on sharing my post, hoping that I could reach a potential donor,” she explains, looking back at how she started.
Eventually, it was Janelle’s aunt, also a graduate of PINHS, who inspired her to keep going. Her aunt donated school supplies and load, and before long, people started filling out the donor forms, sending prepaid load, and providing home WiFi for the students.
Seeing messages from the PINHS community makes Janelle’s heart full. She hopes to help more students with their education and to spread more hope.
“I’m only an instrument because our generous donors made everything possible. Giving up will never be an option if you really want to help other people, and little contributions can lead to something bigger,” Janelle says.
As of this writing, Janelle is helping the PINHS’ junior and senior high school students. Once she gathers enough funds, she plans to expand the assistance to other grade levels.
No student and teacher should be left behind as schools transition to online platforms. But for Janelle, small steps can help students adjust to the challenges of online and blended learning. This is her #KwentoNgTagumpay.
The Philippine STAR, Globe and its Facebook community, Hope Bank, have joined hands to help uplift Filipinos’ spirit, especially during the pandemic. Through #KwentoNgTagumpay, they bring inspiring stories from people who chose to hope and believe. Watch #KwentoNgTagumpay stories in The Philippine STAR’s Facebook page.
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