Fulfilling dreams through education

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Friday, April 25, 2014


THEY may be in prison, but they’re free to dream.

Twenty-one inmates at the Mandaue City Jail marched in their white togas yesterday morning at the jail’s rooftop to receive their elementary and high school diplomas.

They got their diplomas after passing the accreditation and equivalency test given under the Department of Education’s (DepEd) Alternative Learning System (ALS).

When he gets out of jail, Marino Rosaceña hopes to pursue a degree in engineering.

The 33-year-old former printing shop employee who was arrested in 2010 on drug charges celebrated his high school graduation with his wife Mitchelle.

“I’m giving him all my support,” she said, fighting back tears. Mitchelle, 23, visits her husband every day and brings all their five children to see him every Sunday.

Practical lessons

Marino, who graduated with a silver medal, did not get past second year in high school. He admitted giving in to temptations as an adolescent.

“Karon nga naa na tay pamilya, maningkamot na gyud ta makahuman eskwela (Now that I have a family of my own, I will strive to finish my studies),” he said.

More than 40 inmates took the accreditation and equivalency test last October, but only 21 passed. Before taking the test, they underwent learning sessions once a week for about four months. Majority registered to get a high school diploma.

The DepEd Mandaue City Division assigned two teachers to handle the first batch of ALS students at the city jail.

“Reaching out to inmates is one of our advocacies,” said Ismaelita Desabille, the division’s ALS supervisor.

Unlike in formal schools, ALS focuses on adult-learning approach where lessons are more practical than theoretical, Desabille said. “ALS is experiential,” she added.

Louie Patrecio Batal, one of the two ALS teachers at the jail, said 44 inmates have enlisted for the next accreditation and equivalency test.

Community centers

Aside from the city jail, they also helped seven patients at the Cebu Training and Rehabilitation Center in Barangay Jagobiao get elementary and high school diplomas.

Twenty-two of the 27 barangays in Mandaue have established ALS community learning centers for out-of-school youths and adults.

Last year, over 200 dropouts enrolled for an elementary diploma and over 600 registered for a high school diploma.

ALS teacher Blandy Sisonrojas said common reasons why ALS enrollees failed to finish formal education include poverty, vices and family problems.

“For the adults, they are ashamed of going back to formal school because of their age,” she said.

At the city jail, the oldest inmate to receive an elementary diploma was 55 years old. For high school, the oldest graduate was 53 years old.

“The ALS gives hope to those who were not able to finish their elementary and high school education,” Sisonrojas said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 26, 2014.

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