For brighter tomorrow-A A +A
Sunday, June 17, 2012
IT ALL started when Pinky Aquino-Abellada told her brother, President Benigno Aquino III, she wanted to help him. What immediately came to her mind was education for children. She believed that becoming fully literate is a pre-requisite to school achievement and success.
Experts said the roots of literacy are established in the early years of children. After all, the windows of opportunity for language development and learning are wide open before age of ten.
Abellada's focus on pre-schools clearly emanates from two items on the 10-point Basic Reform Agenda of the Aquino administration. One is the universal pre-schooling for all: "All public school children (and all public schools) will have a full year of pre-schooling as their introduction to formal schooling by 2016." The other is the critical "Every Child a Reader" program: "By the end of my administration, every child must be a reader by Grade 1."
From Abellada's wish, Agapp Foundation was born. Agapp stands for Aklat, Gabay at Aruga Tungo sa Pag-angat at Pag-asa (books, teacher training, feeding, livelihood and parenting support programs towards a better quality of life and hope).
The first phase is the construction of Silid Pangarap, a one-storey, two-classroom structure. One of the rooms is intended for classes while the other serves as a library.
Agapp is done in collaboration with the Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD) and the local government units (LGUs).
In 2011, a total of 26 kindergarten schools were turned over: seven in Luzon, 12 in the Visayas, and seven in Mindanao. This year, 21 were also turned over: 7 in Luzon, four in the Visayas, and 10 in Mindanao.
Of the seven buildings that were turned-over in Mindanao in 2011, three are located in Davao City: Lt. C. Villafuerte Elementary School in Calinan, Maa Central Elementary School, and Mudiang Elementary School in Bunawan.
The four other beneficiaries in Mindanao were Kiwalan Elementary School in Iligan, Sta. Ana Elementary School in Nasipit, Butuan, Maco Central Elementary School, and Cotabato City Central Pilot School.
In 2012, Davao City has two kindergarten schools built: one in Catalunan Grande Elementary School and another in Binugao Central Elementary School. Sta. Cruz in Davao del Sur has also two: Inawayan Elementary School and Sibulan Elementary School.
There were also two buildings constructed in Iligan City: Northeast 1A Central School in barangay Sta. Filomena and Northeast 2A Central School in barangay Dalipuga. The four other beneficiaries were: Kingking Central Elementary School in Pantukan, Compostela Valley; New Katipunan Elementary School in Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte; Sero Central School in Cotabato City; and Obrero Elementary School in Butuan City.
To help construct these Silid Pangarap buildings, Pinky asked some donors from private organizations and foundations. One of them is the Aboitiz Foundation which committed itself to construct 67 school buildings all over the country within three years, starting from 2011.
In 2011, 26 school buildings were turned over. And this year, an additional 21 buildings were turned over. The turning over of the buildings was done at the Marco Polo Hotel recently.
"We chose Davao to be the venue for our national turnover of 21 Agapp school buildings this year as we want to thank the people of Mindanao for hosting our businesses for more than 80 years," said Jon Ramon Aboitiz, president of the Aboitiz Foundation, in his speech.
"The Aboitiz Group has always believed in Mindanao where we have not only investments in power generation and distribution but also food and allied products," Aboitiz said.
Of the 47 school buildings the foundation has helped built (20 more in 2013), he explained, "The Foundation will finance the construction of these structures; Agapp will conduct teacher training programs, other organizations will provide age-appropriate instructional materials, tables and chairs while the Department of Education will supply the teachers."
According to Aboitiz, education is the main thrust of its program initiatives. "We believe that helping build these classrooms complement our other education-related initiatives like granting scholarships, and donating books, laboratories, computer equipment and providing skills training."
Abellada, in her speech, thanked Aboitiz Foundation for its support in helping realize what she initiated two years ago. "We are very grateful that the Aboitiz Foundation took the challenge of educating the children by providing them the necessary building conducive for learning," she said.
In a press conference after the launching, the president's sister also revealed that her sister, Kris, has been helping her project.
"For every commercial she's doing, she apportioned some budget for kindergarten buildings," she said, adding that apl.de.app of the Black Eyed Peas is also going to support her advocacy.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on June 18, 2012.