A passion for literacy-A A +A
Sunday, September 1, 2013
WI SUAN TIU is program coordinator for “Alimbukad: Basa Pamilya,” a literacy project of Zonta Club of Cebu II and the Cebu City Public Library which engages the mothers/parents in the early education of their children, to sit them on their laps and read.
Suan is a retired teacher with 39 years of teaching experience behind her. She finished high school in a Chinese school in Cagayan de Oro City, and immediately after high school graduation taught Chinese in St. John School in Bacolod, at a time when Chinese teachers were few and the education department did not strictly require licenses for such language teachers. At the same time, she took up a commerce course at the De La Salle University in Bacolod.
She taught there for seven years and then moved to Cebu and taught Chinese in Sacred Heart School for boys (now SHS Jesuit-Ateneo de Cebu) for another seven years. In 1983, she moved to the United States and got an education degree from Portland University in one year and one summer, the school dean giving her credit for the years she taught in the Philippines.
From 1984 to 2004, she taught is a very small village in Alaska, Scammon Bay, with a population of about 400 people. She believes firmly that parents “should be part of the education of their children” and thus her classroom was open to parents any time and was four times teacher of the year there.
She came back to Cebu in 2004 and then left again for the United States, this time to teach in a public school in New York City, from 2005 to 2010 when she retired. Back in Cebu she offered her services to then vice mayor Joy Augustus Young who directed her to the Cebu city department of education. For this she proposed a basic math computation program to be taught in Guadalupe and Labangon elementary schools, at the same time that she gave training to the math teachers.
In 2012, she met Myrna Cruz Tan who eventually invited her to join Zonta Club of Cebu II, a club she joined readily as literacy is one of the club’s program thrusts. And so, “Alimbukad: Basa Pamilya” was born, as a joint project with the Cebu City Library, through its chief librarian, Ruth Chua. It is the first such program in the country, a program so innovative that Atty. Antonio Santos, director of the National Library of the Philippines, came to Cebu for the program’s launching.
The project focuses on the developing of literacy skills of underprivileged children and their parents in selected daycare centers in Cebu. It is a one-day-a-week program for 12 weeks providing parents with intensive training in literacy and oral language development.
Parents take part in the class and work with the mentor in planning together for the Parent and Child Together Times, a time when parents block off other activities to be with their children to encourage their sense of discovery and play, at the same time that it improves parent-child communication.” Integrating literacy activities at home is a vital part of the program. Parents attend literacy class while children are in another room with literacy activities such drawing, reciting, reading, painting singing. At the end of each session, the children bring home a set of books to read with their parents at home, a set they have to bring back and exchange with another set of books.
“Alimbukad: Basa Pamilya” promises to be a very helpful tool in the literacy development of its target clientele. For Suan, this is payback time. She says: “I was lucky and I wanted to serve, to pay back if you will, in the spirit of the Jesuits school motto of ‘service for others.’ There is a need somewhere and I know I can do something to change and help. After 39 years of teaching and seeing the problem in public schools, it is difficult not to help solve the problem.”
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 02, 2013.