After 9 years, .5M poor Pagsasarili preschoolers feel rich
A POINT OF AWARENESS - Preciosa S. Soliven (The Philippine Star) - June 12, 2014 - 12:00am

One of the most enjoyable experiences I have is to visit any of the 156 Pagsasarili preschools, our O.B. Montessori Child and Community Foundation helped establish with local mayors in Metro Manila, CAR Region, I, II, III, IV-A and IV-B regions since 1983. Twenty of them were funded by DepEd for public schools under then Secretary Jesli Lapus. All these 3- to 5-year-old children exhibit the miraculous behavioral transformation of self-confidence, love for work and order as early as the age of three to five years old.

Their proud parents and grandparents would always join the visiting dignitaries who frequent the sites. One grandmother of a 5-year-old girl, profusely thanked me said, “Ang galing galing naman ng apo ko. Ayos na ayos lagi at napakasipag. Nag Iingles pa, parang anak mayaman” (I am so proud of my granddaughter. She is so organized and loves to work. She even speaks English – just like a rich child).

Governor Vi’s enduring campaign to elevate day care centers to preschools

In 2012, the senior research specialist of SEAMEO-Innotech, Dr. Ethel Agnes P. Valenzuela, was commissioned by the O.B. Montessori Child and Community Foundation, Inc. (OBMCCFI) to conduct a Rapid Assessment of the O.B. Pagsasarili Project in Region 4A, particularly in the province of Batangas. These results were presented at the Batangas Pagsasarili Preschool Convention last May 29-30.

Governor Vilma Santos-Recto and her husband, Senator Ralph Recto, initiated the implementation of the Pagsasarili Preschool Program in the day care centers of Lipa City, when she was still Mayor of the City in 2005. She continued this endeavor when she became governor and will target to pilot one Pagsasarili Preschool in all 31 municipalities and 3 cities of Batangas, until the end of her term in 2016. To date, there are 99 day care centers in Lipa City and 25 day care centers in Batangas City using the Pagsasarili Preschool Program. After almost a decade of partnership between the OBMCCFI and the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) of Batangas in implementing the O.B. Pagsasarili Preschool Project, an evaluation of the project is in place.

Assessing the 9-year transformation of Pagsasarili teachers and preschoolers

The study aimed to assess the effect of the Pagsasarili Teacher Training Program on the day care workers and the impact of the Pagsasarili Preschool Program among the 3- to 5-year-old students and their parents in Batangas. The results gathered will serve as bases for policy formulation, capacity building and program interventions of OBMCCFI.

Ninety-three trained day care workers took part in a focused group discussion and provided answers to open-ended questions, nine of them also served as case studies, while 40 parents of students who completed in the Pagsasarili Preschool, now in various elementary schools of Lipa City, served as respondents for the study.

Majority of the teachers are middle-aged and more than half of them are 40 years old and above. Ideally, preschool teachers should not be more than 35 years old to keep up with the energy of their students. Thus, there is a need to train new and younger teachers to replace those who will eventually retire. Mostly with college level education, a handful are college graduates, they have remained loyal and committed to their work while reasonably sustained with a monthly honorarium of P4,900 from DSWD, P1,500 from their respective barangays, and P200 participation fee from their students. The average monthly take home income of P12,000 after paying off their teacher aides and electricity and water utilities for their day care centers. The municipal mayor allots a special budget of P525,000 for training a maximum of 15 teachers while the provincial governor adds a budget of P975,000 for providing complete set of standard apparata for the 15 Pagsasarili preschools.

More than half of the teacher-respondents (66%) viewed that the Pagsasarili Teacher Training Program helped to increase their understanding the nature of 3s to 5s facilitating their guidance of a mixed age group and 24% of them believed that their confidence in teaching and even their personal relationship with others improved after the training. Principles they learned in the training was also applied at home with their families (14%) and even helped improve their personal grooming habits (12%). Despite their difficulties in English communication, these day care workers persisted in complying with the written requirements of the training: essays, personal reflections, and apparata sheets. They also overcame their timidity in speaking English, with weekly Dale Carnegie sessions that allowed them to speak better English. Given a topic, each one had to give a 2-minute impromptu talk in English before 60 colleagues. This refined their vocabulary, articulation, grammar and organization of ideas.

But why did 43% claim they still find that their training is insufficient. The training time of 6 weeks during summer break cut short their laboratory practice. Its truly necessary to have refresher courses at least during the first two years, to master the use and presentation of 25 Practical Life, 8 Sensorial, 25 Language, 25 Math, 25 Cultural Arts apparata such as Geography, History, Botany and Zoology. Quite time consuming is learning the skills to better manage a class. These provide the work of 20 to 25 three or four-year old children in a class.

The prepared environment for work is the missing factor in the traditional Early Childhood Education (ECE) program

The teacher respondents acknowledge that the Pagsasarili Program is very much different from the day care service program they have been using in the past. They used to be concerned only about making the children sing, play, sleep and eat but they never imagined that a different set of daycare work activities, more demanding would be preferred by children. About 40% observe that the Practical Life exercises prepare them for a lifetime skills in Personal Hygiene and Care for the environment. They feel more relax now that the children have materials to manipulate and to keep themselves constantly busy with the self-teaching apparata, unlike before when they were constantly shouting to get the attention of the children. In the beginning they would often wonder why they cannot attend school even on Saturdays and Sundays.

Forty-seven percent agree that the universally tested Pagsasarili hardware and software materials in Language, Math, Cultural Arts (Botany, Zoology, History, Geography, Science), although more demanding, are more exciting for the very young children so they always stand out in barangay or school competitions.

They do not feel pressured to come up with topics, because they are guided by the Annual and Trimestral Work Plan. They are all very eager to join the summer enhancement refresher course because like professionals they hunger to update their learning, committing themselves to providing quality throughout their life.

Why public school teachers welcome the enrolment of Pagsasarili preschoolers

Forty elementary school teachers who are now handling Pagsasarili Preschool graduates observed that these students were both friendly and helpful (94.87%), were orderly and exhibited love for work (92.5%). Ninety percent share a common observation that children from the program are concentrated or focused on their work compared to other students; 84.62% of the teachers believe that their students were independent while 79.49% of them feel their pupils are confident.

Most of the teachers believe that their students from the Pagsasarili Preschool program have been taught well in language, mathematics, social studies and science. The teachers cited how students could easily learn their lessons when compared with their counterparts from conventional school. Every school opening, the public school teachers always look forward to having them. They know they can work independently and already have the needed skills for Grade 1. This allows the teacher to focus on other students in their class while they actually become teacher’s helper.

 The teachers are also proud to report that the Pagsasarili graduates often belong to the top ten students of their class. They likewise confirmed their students’ involvement in co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, that include math contests, spelling bee, word rhyming contest, story reading, poster/slogan making contests, and memberships to student organizations such as Supreme Pupil Government and Boys/Girls Scouts of the Philippines (BSP/GSP) among others.

The Pagsasarili children – a vision of the new country

On the façade of the OB Montessori headquarters in Greenhills, etched on the marble wall, is a prayer below an embossed sculpture of the Greek Vestal virgin nurturing the eternal flame of the nation. All Filipinos are summoned,

The Prayer of the Keepers of the Flame

“ We Are The Keepers Of The Flame.

The Child Is The Vessel

And The Bearer Of The Light Of Christ.

From Him Will Shine Forth A Golden Ray Of Light

To Guide The Destiny Of The Nation.”

(For feedback, email at precious.soliven@yahoo.com)

 

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Erratum: In last week’s column Queen Margrethe II was 13 when she became heir apparent… She ascended the throne in January 1972, after her father’s death. She was 31, married and a mother of 2 small boys.

CARE PAGSASARILI PAGSASARILI PRESCHOOL PRESCHOOL PROGRAM STUDENTS TEACHERS WORK
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