After School Program Launched in the Philippines

New Program Gives After-School Assistance to Remedial Students in Tacloban, Philippines

Just down the street from Tahanan, our community center in Tacloban City, Banez Elementary School is host to 800 primary age students with only 23 teaching and non-teaching staff to educate them. This past week was our first week of hosting an after-school program for students with the greatest academic deficit.  The following is a reflection from Clark Miller on his initial observations of the students’ academic need after the first week of the program.  

Carrying the one. It’s a rudimentary grade one mathematical concept. So how have kids made it to the 4th, 5th, and 6th grade without knowing it? It’s a question we will be exploring over the next few months.

Jovic Roldan, our newest employee in the Philippines, leads a classroom of students in an interactive literacy exercise. The students, despite being in grades 3-5, still struggle with basic letter recognition. 

The kids also don’t know about ratios yet, but if there wasn’t a 38:1 student-to-teacher ratio, they just might. But the lack of teachers isn’t the only thing stacked against these children, as education is not always at the forefront of these kids’ minds. Some have rotting teeth, others lack uniforms, some have infections bulging from their scalps, and others suffer hunger pangs.

It is obvious the children have other needs that aren’t being met, ones that seem more important than knowing what nine plus eleven equals. But the further these students fall behind, the the more difficult it will be for them to catch the baton of education being passed to them.

That is why we are here--to ensure they grab hold of concepts necessary to continue, to not only help them catch up, but to help them keep running.

Rina Miller, cooperative and social worker, gives focused attention to a small group of students still struggling to read.

The first week of our program held all the potential to be overwhelming. One scene that does not excite most people is a classroom full of children who are not only academically behind, but seem to lack other basic developmental disciplines that children their age should possess.

Kids in the third grade should know how to read, not still be making off-the-wall guesses about what letter is what. But after recovering from reality’s slap to the face, we turned the other cheek and smiled. We are excited for this opportunity. We are excited to help those who need it. But we do not take it lightly, for we know that we may be the only help some of these kids ever get, possibly even a safety net for some who may otherwise eventually drop out.

We are excited about this semester.  We will initially work with them in the subjects of reading and math through creative educational exercises that connect these subjects with their everyday experiences.  Please pray for us! 

Clark Miller
On the Field Correspondent
Tacloban, Philippines