Batangas Pagsasarili Preschool Convention to highlight discoveries of new teacher and new child
A POINT OF AWARENESS - Preciosa S. Soliven (The Philippine Star) - May 15, 2014 - 12:00am

It was summer 2005 when Governor Vilma Santos Recto (then mayor of Lipa City) sent 15 DSWD Day Care workers to train for the OB Pagsasarili preschool program at the O.B. Montessori headquarters in Greenhills, San Juan. Gov. Vilma and her husband, Ralph Recto decided to provide a quality preschool program for the city of Lipa and agreed to use the OB Pagsasarili preschool program in the city under the coordination of then DSWD head Tess Pesa.

 Being former preschool students themselves at the first O.B. Montessori school in Escoda, Paco Manila (circa 1968), Ralph Recto and his brother Vincent have fond memories of their Montessori experience.

Transforming day care centers into Pagsasarili preschools

Every year for 3 years, Gov. Vilma Santos had DSWD day care workers who have to pass a battery of tests for maturity, intelligence and teaching aptitude given the Pagsasarili proficiency preschool teacher training program at the OB Montessori Center in Greenhills. The succeeding mayors of Lipa also continued this program. When she became governor of Batangas, Vilma implemented the OB Pagsasarili preschool program in the different municipalities. To date, there are 25 municipalities (Malvar, Cuenca, Padre Garcia, San Pascual, Taal, Tuy, San Luis, Sta. Teresita,Ibaan, San Nicolas, Calatagan, Lobo, Mataas na Kahoy, Mabini, Rosario, Calaca, Balete, San Juan, Talisay, and Nasugbu) and 72 barangays in Lipa (with 99 day cares) using the OB Pagsasarili system in their DSWD Day Care Centers.

The OB Pagsasarili preschool program makes use of the scientific Montessori system of early childhood education discovered by Dottoressa Maria Montessori of Italy. This columnist was fortunate to receive three Italian grants between 1966 and 1970, to do the Association Montessori International (AMI) teacher training course for preschool at Perugia, the grade school course at Bergamo, and a travel grant for visiting Montessori high school model of the “scuola professionale” in Milan, Venice, Padova and Florence.

In between my study grants in Italy Mr. Oscar Arellano, Operation Brotherhood International (OBI) president, helped me set up the non-stock, non-profit, OB Montessori schools from preschool, grade school to professional high school, while assisting him to modify the system to be made affordable for poor children of families he helped relocate from the slum areas of Intramuros, Taal Volcano eruption until we officially worked with NHA (National Housing Authority) slum improvement projects in Metro Manila by 1983.

The OB Pagsasarili training program contrasts with the traditional preschool teacher training

This summer there are 6-day care workers from Batangas undergoing the OB Pagsasarili Training program. This is a five-week intensive training program that includes: theoretical training and practical training. The theoretical part consists of acquainting the trainee with the true nature and psychology of the Absorbent Mind and movement education of 3- to 6-year-old children. This is missing in the conventional preschool proficiency training, which is more pedagogical and method oriented.

Meantime, the Pagsasarili practical portion of training complements the theoretical. The trainees have to master the internationally standardized materials for Practical Life, Sensorial Arts, Language, Math and Cultural Arts (geography, history, botany, zoology) and write their apparatus book, whereas the conventional preschool teacher lets children follow a simpler routine, of workbook time, snacks, singing, and storytelling sessions.

Each day care center is supplied with OB Pagsasarili materials. This set of materials is used by 25 to 30 children (for 2 ½ hours) per class. A classroom may have three sessions per day. The Practical Life, a few Sensorial Arts, Language, Math and Cultural Arts materials each have containers conditioning the child to make sure the items are complete before returning them. They are classified and kept in the same place in open shelves, low enough for the preschoolers to reach.

The DSWD Day Care Centers using the OB Pagsasarili preschool program is financially sustainable by proper funding of the city government and parent contributions averaging P200 monthly and increasing gradually. The 30-year-old Pagsasarili in Metro Manila has the maximum contribution of P1,500 monthly. We observe that parents’ income increases as they are inspired by their children’s acquiring Gr. III competence and converses in English.

The pleasant discovery of the ‘new teacher’ and the ‘new child’

Here are some anecdotes from the Lipa teacher trainees and children:

VILMA (San Sebastian): “As early as March 2005, Ms. Tess Pesa, Social Welfare city officer, brought us to Manila to meet Ambassador Soliven and the Pagsasarili teacher trainors. We didn’t expect to be subjected to a battery of tests for IQ, teaching aptitude and maturity. We started training a month after.

“We felt lonely because it was the first time we were apart from our families. Since the training was conducted in English, we struggled reading the Montessori books and writing essays up to 2 a.m. By 6 a.m., we had to start preparing for the Monday to Friday 8 a.m. sessions.

“The Pagsasarili materials (Practical laundry, sweeping, dressing frames, puzzle geography maps, Botany and Zoology classified picture cards) were like toys, but they are difficult to use. Apparatus books had to be compiled with written ‘recipes’ for each material. Practical exams required oral presentation. Theoretical exams on the Montessori principles of psychology and practice applied to the four sets of Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Math and Science materials. It’s not that easy to become a Pagsasarili Montessori teacher.

MARY ANNE (Antipolo Del Norte 1): “O the first day there were many questions in my mind — would it be hard or easy? On the next day they were answered — We took ‘essay writing’ on the Life and Works of Maria Montessori and impromptu public speaking with the Dale Carnegie course.

“When we went home on weekend we were greeted by problems – sick child, another child met an accident — easily gobbling up the allowance from the Mayor. It seems we’ve got reason not to come back to OB Montessori when Monday comes. But it is our duty, and with the trust of our beloved Mayor nothing can stop us from continuing in the training.”

GLYZEN DIMASACAT, 3 years old, enrolled as Junior Casa in San Sebastian Pagsasarili School. She was sickly and was sometimes hospitalized due to her weak lungs. Her attendance was erratic until her second year in school. Her parents were worried that she would not learn much because she was often absent. But her teacher made the most of the times she was in school to present to her the different Pagsasarili materials. Soon Glyzen was starting to read kartilya syllables, then phonograms and stories. As she learned more in school, she also became healthier. She became less sickly and more confident of herself. She was even chosen as speaker for their Advanced Casa Graduation.

KC PARRIENTE, 4.6 years old, was seen by her teacher as a promising child. She was smart and liked to work with the materials. Her father sold peanuts and corn in the bus stop, while her mother was a housewife. With such meager income, KC’s parents could not afford for her to bring snacks to school. She had only water to drink. Needless to say, her parents’ counterpart was always delayed. In the middle of the school year, her father and oldest sibling got sick of dengue. Her mother had just given birth to her third child. KC had to stop going to school. KC’s mother felt ashamed that they could not pay for her counterpart so she wanted her daughter to stop schooling. The teacher said “It would be regrettable if your child will stop, your daughter is bright and she would learn many things here.” The mother could not thank the teacher enough. They made an agreement that KC would continue schooling and the mother would just pay in instalments whenever they have extra money. Until now, KC’s parents and even her grandmother are still paying for her parents’ counterpart this school year.

The OB Pagsasarili convention in Batangas

On May 29-30, 2014, Governor Vilma Santos Recto and the mayors of the 25 municipalities in Batangas will sponsor a Pagsasarili Preschool Convention in cooperation with the OB Montessori Child and Community Foundation to reassess the eight-year experiences of the Pagsasarili Preschools: both achievements and flaws which should be corrected to continue providing quality preschool education. It seeks to harmonize the partnership of O.B. Montessori Child and Community Foundation with the Batangas local government together with DSWD and DepEd.

The convention will bring all 120 DSWD OB Pagsasarili trained day care workers of Batangas together. Preparations for this activity started last March 3, 2014 during the Women’s Month celebration of Batangas Province, when the OBMCCFI staff and I met with Gov. Vilma Santos and her Provincial Social Welfare Development Office Head, Ms. Joy Montalbo.

Governor Vilma not only leaves a more enduring legacy as she “plants” the Pagsasarili preschools all over the province, but has set the trend for a caring leadership for the whole country as she persistently supported the alternative education system of “lifelong learning for sustainable development.” This has broken the national barrier of dependency, which has lead to the teachers and children’s joy of life.

‘The song of Pagsasarili teachers’

All the Pagsasarili Preschool Training Courses create such an ecstatic spirit of love among the teachers. I was touched with this song entitled “The Song of Pagsasarili Teachers” they spontaneously composed:

 â€œâ€¦Not long ago, we were full of pride; while our tiny pupils were full of fright. Mali iyan, ang kulit naman… dali, dali ang bagal mo… inip na inip na ako! “Six weeks ago, English we could not speak; salitang Batangas (Ifugao) made us meek; more so because we were forced to read eight chapters of Montessori’s life and works.

“Anim na linggo nagbago ang mundo; bilang ang kilos ng walis tambo (Practical Life); 13 naman ang pagkuskos, pagsabon, pagbanlaw, etc. sa paglalaba; May placemat, breakable glass at plate sa table setting pa. Pitong pirasong kahoy ang mundo (Geography); Kabilang ang dalawang America, rosas na Europa, itim na Africa, puting Antarctica, berdeng Australia at dilaw ang aking Asia.

“Imbis na ABC ay letrang maliit (Language/Math), letrang mataas at letrang maybuntot, papel delihang hinihimas ng aking hintuturo. Imbis na 1, 2, 3 – gintong perlas ang binibilang mula sa units, tens, hundreds and thousands. Ito daw ay bilang decimal. Pagbalik ko noong unang linggo, nagulat ang asawa ko. ‘Sinong dalaga ang nandidito?’ Buong ngiti at yayakapin pa ako! ‘Si Neneng pala anong pagbabago’. Sabi niya, ‘Ako’y nalilito. Akala ko’y kaibang pagtuturo, pinasukan mo ba ay preschool training? O kaya kay Ricky’s Beauty training?’ Mahal ko, ang sagot ko umupo ka at mahaba ang kuwento linggo linggo ako’y magbabago pati ikaw, si Jane, Dan at Jojo.”

(For more information on the OB Pagsasarili Batangas Convention please call OB Montessori Child & Community Foundation at 7229720 local 225).

BATANGAS DAY MONTESSORI PAGSASARILI PRESCHOOL PROGRAM SCHOOL TEACHER TRAINING
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