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As a witness to the start of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) for the poor in San Gabriel, La Union in 2010, its amazing effect to education is so overwhelming.
The economic situation of the learners, their physical appearances, as well as their learning situations, have improved. Before the 4Ps program, the situations of the learners was a challenge to teachers. It is so hard to watch a learner in the class without school needs, with clothes unchanged over days, and the most heart-breaking is when they bring to school their younger siblings because their parents have to labor for their immediate needs. It has a usual expression to hear learners say “Ma’am, I have no pencil, Ma’am, I have no paper, Ma’am I have no food” and many more. Teachers seemed to be magicians in finding remedies to provide those needs of the learners in order to make the day fruitful for them.
After their census of households in 2009, the Department of Social Welfare and Development in their Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) announced a very good news regarding the financial grant to be given to chosen 4Ps minority beneficiaries which covers their monthly family health grant and educational grant of five hundred pesos for high school learners and three hundred for elementary pupils. The program has started a positive reform in class attendance and learning attitude of learners due to its rule of 85% attendance a month strictly monitored by the department. Their parents are also forced to encourage their children to join different school activities.
Gone are the days for some schools in San Gabriel when learners go to school bare-foot, have no school bags but cellophane bags, no food for snacks or lunch, no school materials and more. Now, with the help of the 4Ps, learners go to school with adequate if not complete school materials and food. Their usual expression of saying “I have no…” has slowly turned into “Yes Ma’am”. No more learners are bringing their younger siblings to school, because their parents have learned different livelihood skills and are assured to receive cash grants every month. No more learners are cutting classes to go to the hills and gather guavas or different wild fruits for food. Those are some of the learners’ painful experiences in pursuing their education. It made me think that, if only 4Ps started earlier when I was about to enter school…
The 4Ps program has smoothly bridged the gap from poverty to an improved living condition among its beneficiaries. It changed the behavior of learners and their attitude towards learning. The program has helped increase the low performance of learners into better performance. This time, parents have been the helpers of teachers in assuring the quality of learning for the learners. With the joint force of the 4Ps and the Department of Education, it is hoped that every school year produces better if not best graduates to serve as our co-workers in molding the next generations who will care for our future, environment and lives towards facing globalization and modernization.
This account gives meaning to the “Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program” for health care and education specially for the less fortunate and indigent people of San Gabriel.
By WOMA K. UNGOGAN