Children empowering children

Jeselle, 16, and Lea, 15, give back to their community in Siayan, Zamboanga del Norte by tutoring fellow children on weekends or during summer vacation.

“It feels good when parents approach us and say that their children have improved in Math or English or in Science,” Jeselle smiles.

The tutorial started in 2016 after they were trained on Culture of Reading, a World Vision initiative that supports school-aged children’s learning. Depending on the availability of other youth volunteers, the children, usually 4 to 15 years old, are divided into two groups. The tutorial runs for two hours and topics are taught depending on the expressed needs of the students. Both the local government and the department of education have been supportive of World Vision’s education programs in Siayan.

7-year-old Justin, who is moving up to Grade 2 this coming school year, is one of Jeselle and Lea’s most active students.

“They teach me how to spell words and do Math but what I love most is they help me write better,” he giggles.

11-year-old April, on the other hand, looks forward to the day when she can be like her tutors.

“I want to be a Math teacher someday but while I am young, I want to be like Jeselle and Lea,” she blushes.

In the 2013 baseline study conducted by World Vision in Zamboanga del Norte, the proportion of girls and boys aged 11 to 13 that are functionally literate was at a critical rate of 44%. This means that below 50% of the students were able to read with comprehension by the end of their basic education. The rate went up to 62.64% in 2016, accounting for 50% to 70% of the students that were able to read with comprehension by the end of their basic education. Although there was a significant improvement within the 3-year interval, there is more to be done as the rate is still 17.36% short of the 80% threshold.

“This is the reason why we also want to help our community, young as we are,” shares Lea and Jeselle. Both girls hope to see more professionals coming from their village. Lea wants to be a social worker and work for World Vision one day while Jeselle is working hard to be a teacher.

Roseva Cabasag, World Vision staff based in Zamboanga del Norte shares that the children’s zeal for education is overwhelming. Not only is she encouraged with how the parents and those in authority are providing support but most importantly, she’s overjoyed with how the children are stepping up to help other children.

“World Vision started its work in this area in 2013, focusing on the education sector. It amazes me how children like Lea and Jeselle have grown to be visionaries and how the culture of generosity is best exemplified in their lives,” she says.

Aside from tutoring fellow children, they also lead the Barangay Children’s Association which is active in promoting child-led activities like supporting Brigade Eskwela, advocacy campaigns and WV activities like the upcoming lead a life campaign that will give them and other World Vision-assisted communities with school supplies.—World Vision/July 31, 2017

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