Published on July 8, 2009
Helping children since 1996
For coming up to 14 years, Unang Hakbang has been helping children on the streets and the city’s slums. We have helped them get back to school and make the most of that experience.
. When we find ourselves faulting everything that is wrong with us as a nation, we need to recall that until 1948, there were only 19MM Filipinos. When America consolidated its hold on the Philippines in 1903, we were even less than half that number and fewer still at the start of the Spanish colonial period
The Way We Were NCSB
Today, we have a country of over 88MM people with 11.5MM persons - 60% of the total population in 1948 – living in the National Capital Region. Between 1948, when the country was just beginning to recover from the impact of World War II, and today is a little over 60 years, a span of less than a lifetime. It should not surprise us if many of our institutions seem fragile and major portions of our social infrastructure often not coherent.
Having said that, we need to strive harder and take better care of the next generation. Today, children, aged 14 & below, make up 37% of the population. These are 28.3MM children, more than triple the number of all Filipinos at the start of the American Colonial Period. In the National Capital Region alone, 4.3MM children need taking care of.
The Next Generation NCSB
The problem is clear in the area of education. While the national population has grown by over 2% annually, school enrollment increased by less than 1% annually from 2000 to 2007 with schools adding just 637,000 net new students to its rolls during that period.
Failing To Keep Up DepEd Fact Sheet
The public school system has borne the brunt of educating the nation’s children. Over 90% of children who enroll are in the public schools.
An Overburdened Public School System DepEd Fact Sheet
While the public school system has been criticized severely because of the lack of facilities, the poor quality of teaching and error-filled textbooks, the results of academic achievement tests show some hard-earned successes. Achievement test scores have risen from 51% in 1997 to 65% in 2007 although for many critics these scores are still not high enough.
Small Improvements DepEd Fact Sheet
The improvement in test scores likely accounts for the increasing cohort survival rate - the percentage of children who enter Grade 1 together and graduate on time. This has moved up from 65% to 75% over the last 10 years. It still means however that a quarter of all children entering Grade 1 are not completing their elementary schooling. More worrisome, the declining participation rate indicates that a growing number of school age children are not even entering school. Drop out rates are highest before children reach Grade 4. The good news is that children who make it to Grade 4 are likely to complete their elementary schooling.
Key Indicators DepEd Fact Sheet
10 years ago, as many like to point out, the school participation rate was at a high 95%. The cohort survival rate which was at 65% however also meant that more than a third of school children were dropping out. In 2007, we see the situation reversing with the cohort survival rate on the rise but with participation rate sadly on a decline. Under the world Education For All initiative, the Philippines’ stated goal is a participation rate of 95% by 2010 and 98% by 2015 in the elementary school level with the cohort survival rate at 79% in 2010 and 85% in 2015.
Why do children drop out of school? According to the Functional Literacy, Education and Mass Media Survey (FLEMMS) conducted in 2003, for the majority of children, aged 5-17, they were simply not interested in school. This was specially true among the 5-9 year-olds or those expected to be in Grades 1-4, the group which has the highest drop-out rates. It is important that we acknowledge this and relate it to the data presented earlier. As the students’ ability to cope with school improved - reflected in the improvement of achievement test scores - more of them have stayed in school, raising the cohort survival rate. The cost of schooling as a reason for dropping out gained equal importance only as children reached working age.
Reasons for Dropping Out FLEMMS 2003
The importance of the child’s ability in determining whether or not he will drop out of school is confirmed by a 2007 study completed by Bacolod and Ranjan using data from a Cebu Longitudinal Health and Nutrition Survey (CLHNS). All things being equal, a child perceived to be less able is more likely to be allowed to drop out of school.
Child Ability & Household Wealth Poor households with high ability children are more likely to send them to school than poor households with low ability children. Low income households may even let their low-ability children simply remain idle. Even within the same household, the less able child is significantly more likely to be working or idle while his more able sibling is significantly more likely to be in full-time schooling. Bacolod & Ranjan (2007) “Why Children Work, Attend School, or Stay Idle: The Roles of Ability and Household Wealth”
Are a lot of children actually unintelligent? Today, we talk of multiple intelligences. Our public educational system and many parents, however, still cling to the notion that only those who know their numbers and letters are smart. We need to start recognizing the many other kinds of smarts.
Influencing Child Ability Multiple intelligences: bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, naturalistic, intrapersonal, visual-spatial, musical Illustration from http://museumofplay.org
Influencing Child Ability Children require a stimulating environment, one that engages their attention and provides a variety of experiences They need room to experiment: “A person is what he is, not because of the teachers he has had, but as a result of that which he has done himself.” (Maria Montessori)
Unfortunately, in a community such as this, an over-abundance of stimuli may also leave a child unable to cope and stay in control of himself, leading to behaviors that get him labeled as unpredictable, disinterested, and of low ability.
The constant snacking on junk food, sold at P2-P3 ($0.04-$0.06)/pack, adds to this problem as it takes away the children’s appetite for regular meals keeping their bodies and their brains undernourished.
Many mothers have in fact told us that to avoid fighting with their children over finishing what is on their plate, they regularly eat any leftover. So, we have the phenomena of robust-looking adults and undersized children.
The UHF Approach We believe each of us is responsible for our own future. We help children best by enabling them to realize their potential, expand their life options, and grow into empowered and empowering adults.
Our Mission By creating safe places that provide children with a rich environment of learning, recreational and cultural experiences, we help them develop an inner sense of competency. And by making this an environment that also encourages trust and engenders hope, we reinforce their innate resilience and ability to cope with the early challenges of disadvantage.
Street and out-of-school children and youth and those at-risk of dropping out of school concern us most. We locate our centers, our children’s sanctuaries, where they live or “work”.
Bahay ni San Francisco was our first center. It opened directly onto the street along the side of EDSA Shangri-La Hotel and catered to the street children of EDSA Crossing providing them a place to rest, bathe, have a meal and study.
In 2007, BSF moved to a near but quieter part of the city at 39 Calbayog St., Bgy. Highway Hills, Mandaluyong City.
Bahay ni Nino Hesus located within the Welfareville Compound was established in April 2000 to serve children within their own community. It is sited on space borrowed from the SamahanngMagkakapit- Bahay Inc. (SMBI).
Bahay ni Jose at the Botanical Garden in Bgy. Addition Hills is space that has been provided to UHF by the City of Mandaluyong. Half of it is being transformed into a Community Technology Learning Center and an Alternative Learning System classroom. The other half is where children come for tutorials, art classes and other activities.
Bahay ngPastol on Fabella St., Bgy. Plainview serves as UHF’s administrative office and livelihood training center. It houses UrChef, the bakery project which is both a fund-raising initiative and training ground for future kitchen helpers.
Our Programs Aral Kalinga is a mentoring and tutorial program for public elementary school children with average grades below 78%. We provide reading, writing and math classes as well as art, values and life skills classes. We take in 200-250 children annually. We monitor grades and give a stipend of P50 ($1)/week to those whose average grades rise to 80% and P100 ($2)/week to those with average grades of 85%.
Aral Kalinga’saim is to open the window to other life options and encourage children to become the best they can be.
Our Programs Buhay Kalinga is a mentoring and educational assistance program for street and out-of-school children and youth. We provide classes in basic literacy and guide learners through the Alternative Learning System (ALS). Art, values and life skills classes are offered as well. We have over 30 children in the ALS program today and are aiming to bring this up to 200.
At a forum, Talakayang Lansangan, organized by UHF, the top three needs expressed were: education, work and good health – education to qualify for better jobs and good health to enable them to keep on working. Any formation and education program therefore has to be linked strongly to work. For this young group of streetwise individuals, shelter was not an issue. They could lay their heads any where. They said that once they made good money, it would be easy enough to purchase a home.
“Dito, tinuruanako kung paanomagbasa, magsulatmagkwenta at magdisiplinasasarili. Pinakuhaakong PEPT exam nguni’thindikoitonaipasa. Sa halipnakalimutankoang Unang Hakbang Foundation dahilhindiakonakapasa, hindikoitoginawa. Alamkonabawa’tbatanakanilanginaalagaan ay mahalnila, kayanaglarosaakingisipannadahilmahalnilakami, hindinilakamipababayaan.” Edwin, 21 A client since 2001. Now a 4th year student at a night high school. PEPT is the Philippine Educational Placement Test
“Here, I learned to read, write, count, and practice self-discipline. They had me take the PEPT exam which I failed. But I didn’t go back on Unang Hakbang Foundation because I failed. I didn’t do this because I knew they loved all of us. And I thought since they love us, they will not give up on us.” Edwin, 21 A client since 2001. Now a 4th year student at a night high school. PEPT is the Philippine Educational Placement Test
Our Programs Pagsasarili means becoming independent. It is learning a skill and preparing for a productive work life, linking education directly to work. It is becoming a good steward and making the practice of charity a natural and integral element of one’s life. Children at UHF learn to practice giving in Magtulungan at Mag-Aral and Kwentuhang Bata and gain practical work experience through Bagging It! and UrChef.
Magtulungang at Mag-Aral is a peer tutorial program. It started organically with children helping out during the tutorials. As we learned to recognize their efforts and added teacher training workshops, more children offered to volunteer their time. In May 2009, we had 30 young people, our BatangGuros, who gave up a month of their vacation to tutor incoming Grade 1 to Grade 4 students.
Kwentuhang Bata is a community read aloud held Saturday mornings with children reading to other children. Sitting on the ground in a basketball court or on the sidewalk, 15-20 young people read to 10 other children each, reaching out to 150-200 neighborhood children at each outing.
Bagging It! is a temporary job placement. For two Christmas seasons, our older boys have worked with SM Supermarket as baggers. In May 2009, UHF was a beneficiary of Mandaluyong City’s Special Program for the Employment of Students (SPES). Through the program, 20 young people undertook a survey of the number of school-age children in Welfareville, Bgy. Addition Hills and Calbayog, Highway Hills.
UrChef is a fund-raising project for UHF as well as a work opportunity for older children. P1 from every cookie baked is shared by those who help make them. It helps keep out-of-school youth in UHF’s programs and active in the alternative learning classes.
Our Programs Art classes are held weekly at UHF. It aids in the development of fine motor skills and introduces children to dealing with complexity. The arts focus has in the past included the organization of a recorder ensemble and a theatre arts group. Creative writing is today one of the children’s regular pursuits.
Since 2001, we have organized Ugnayang Sining – an annual exhibit showcasing the children’s artworks. The works of upward of 60 children are exhibited. In 2008, the artworks were paired with essays written by other children that described where they lived in an exhibit called “DitoKamiNakatira”.
Our Programs We value play as one of the fundamental rights of a child esp. as it fosters creativity and helps build self-esteem. Due to the lack of appropriate play spaces, children have seized the street as their play area. And so, ordinary children from slum communities have also come to be labeled as “street children”. UHF organizes a summer arts and sports program to provide children from poor urban communities with sports and art activities that other children take for granted. The program benefits over 500 children annually.
Talon TakboLikhais a summer arts and sports program that has been organized regularly since 2001 for children from very poor urban communities. It harnesses the spirit of volunteerism among college students and their coaches who dedicate a big part of their vacation to making children happy.
Organization UHF was formally incorporated in December 1999 after starting life as a Saturday interaction with street children at EDSA Crossing in September 1996. It is registered and licensed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) as a social welfare agency implementing community-based services for children and youth. It is also a registered as a volunteer organization with the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA).
Memberships Metrowest Network (MWN) for Children In Need of Special Protection (CNSP) National Council for Social Development (NCSD) Area-Based Standards Network (ABSNET)-NCR Metro East Cluster E-Net Philippines
Become Involved Donate time or treasure. We regularly need volunteer-tutor s and administrative workers. Give! It takes just P1,000 ($20)/month or P10,000 ($200)/year to support a child in our program. Become a Member. Make UHF your principal charity and make an annual personal or professional financial commitment of at least P20,000 ($400). Ensure that there is continuous innovation within UHF.
Become Involved Patronize UrChef. Call us at (632) 531-3474 to order.
Unang Hakbang Foundation Inc. (UHF) ...
Unang Hakbang Foundation Mandaluyong City, Philippines UHF is a caring organization engaged in helping children on the streets and in poor urban ...
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