Sunday, September 19, 2021

Good education for the community

DAVAO. Ana Maria S. Gualberto with hubby Dodie Gualberto, the school’s director for administration. (Photo from Ana Maria S. Gualberto)

MOST people establish their own business normally to get profit. But some ventured into something with a noble purpose they perceive as lacking either in their community or the country in general.

Just what Ana Maria S. Gualberto did when she established a learning center in Davao City.

Gualberto dreamed of finding a learning center that does not hold a large class sizes and does not just offer traditional ways of teaching providing plenty of worksheets for preschool students.

"We wanted to do something different like learning by doing and giving opportunities for children with learning difficulties to be given the chance to discover their talents," Gualberto said.

A mother of three, Gualberto aspired to see a learning center that would, instead of giving separate lessons to the students in Math, Science, English, Filipino, and Araling Panlipunan, provide projects or activities that blur the lines between subjects as it would make the experience more natural and interesting.

"With this, the concepts and skills gained become more relevant to the students while adhering to the Department of Education's learning competencies," she said.

It was then that she established a school 20 years ago because of these perceived needs of the community she belongs to.

The platform may have changed because instead of face-to-face they are now using online, as most of the schools are doing. However, she ensures that her school employs a developmental approach as espoused by Piaget, in her theory of cognitive development, to the curriculum.

"It is based on the principle that what children should learn and how they can best learn changes with their age, and the experience that comes with age," she said.

Gualberto, an AB Sociology at the University of the Philippines-Los Baños graduate, said, accordingly, the appropriate curriculum must be decided on the basis of (1) what is best in the long term, (2) what strengthens young learners' disposition to study closely their environments, and (3) what knowledge is useful to them in the present.

Admittedly, the pandemic also has tempted her to close the school and just wait until the pandemic is over. But her commitment to the community and the children kept pushing her to go on.

“We are committed to our students and want to give them the best possible education in spite of the current situation," she said.

She said this is the help she could offer to the children in the community, to become successful in life through the process of teaching they employ in their school.

"Teaching is a significant part of nation-building, and we simply cannot give up. There is still so much to do in terms of improving the quality of education as a nation, and we need to do our best even if we can only provide it to a small population," Gualberto said.

For her, running a school should not be considered a business because it will never give one the returns they expect.

But what's important for her is to give the best education she could give to different children.

"Every child is different; it is important to give them an avenue to learn in a way that works for them," she ended.

Gualberto is the woman behind the Apo Learning Center, which has grown slowly and conservatively over the years, from just catering to preschool now to senior high school with a low student-teacher ratio.


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