Editorial: Beyond the streets-A A +A
Sunday, October 28, 2012
THAT few ever make it out of the streets attests to not just the feat of Jason Caba but also of the people and institutions sustaining him in his journey.
It also proves again how education opens opportunities for children in especially difficult circumstances (CEDCs), including street children.
Last Oct. 20, Sun.Star Cebu’s Rebelander S. Basilan reported about Caba’s triumph.
After living for three years on the streets of Mandaue City, Caba enrolled in the Alternative Learning System (ALS), finishing the free education program in a year and with honors.
Basa also passed an acceleration test. Now 16, Caba is a first year student at the Tipolo National High School.
Last Oct. 17, Caba and other former street children Henry Poloyapoy, Junrey Perez and Richard Villamor were recognized by the Mandaue City Government for their achievement.
Charity and more
Basa’s story shows how the problem of juvenile delinquency can be addressed when citizens and institutions look beyond the problems and nurture the value of every child.
According to the same Sun.Star Cebu article, Basa was then seven and sleeping on the streets when a couple took him in. He was only four when his mother died. He decided to run away, unable to endure the beatings of his father. Three of his sisters were adopted by nuns, but two of his older brothers are at the Mandaue City Jail due to
robbery and drug charges.
Though Basa escaped a dysfunctional family, life on the streets is hardly the better option for children. According to a study conducted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco), CEDCs do not just struggle with survival but have to contend with discrimination, stigmatization and risks, particularly exposure to adult exploitation and sexually transmitted infections, such as HIV and Aids.
Official intervention from local governments and the police usually take the form of sporadic “rescue” missions that round up street children, keep them for an overnight stay, and next day release them back to the streets after a meal and a bath.
These are often stopgap measures to respond to complaints from citizens about juvenile delinquents, such as “rugby boys,” who harass and steal from pedestrians.
Such “missions” fail to “rescue” the children whose addiction to illegal substances, servitude with gangs or syndicates, and dysfunctional families require complex and long-term solutions.
The success of Caba, Poloyapoy, Perez and Villamor shows how human compassion and institutional follow-through can enable CEDCs to break away from the vicious cycle of street culture.
The couple who offered Caba a home when he was seven enrolled him from grade 1 to 3, according to Sun.Star Cebu. The Mandaue City Social Welfare Services (CSWS) helped Caba enroll in ALS.
The ALS is a program offered by the Department of Education to enable those who cannot afford formal schooling to acquire basic knowledge and skills. Out-of-school youths and adults, those who did not finish elementary or high school education, children in conflict areas, rebel returnees and inmates avail themselves of free interactive modules and learning sessions at a community learning center, following a schedule agreed by the learners and facilitators.
The Mandaue City Council for the Protection of Children also sources scholarships for street children. Since the program began three years ago, 60 street children finished ALS in Mandaue.
The CSWS also works with nongovernment organizations (NGOs) to sustain street children’s motivation to stay in school and off the streets. The Cebu Network for Street Children is being formed by five NGOs to help the street children of Metro Cebu.
The Mandaue City Police Office holds a twice-a-month feeding program for street children, and plans a Christmas party for 500 street children by December.
When citizens and institutions cooperate, street children and other CEDCs have more than a fair chance to realize their full potentials and ultimately give back to the community.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 29, 2012.