Tuesday, October 16, 2007

DOLE-7: OFWs help bring back working children to school

Cebu City (8 October) -- A program that aims to bring back working children to school by making education accessible for them through the construction of school buildings and more classrooms is realized through the generosity of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

"Classroom Manggagawa Abroad" is a program initiated by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for several years now where they tap the compassionate hearts of OFWs worldwide to help the government in constructing school buildings and classrooms in areas where child labor is prevalent.

DOLE-7 Regional Director Elias Cayanong recently bared some groups of OFWs donate as much as US $8T so that these poor deprived children can be encouraged to go back to school.

Education, one of the basic rights of children is one of the priority thrusts of the Arroyo Administration particularly on pro-poor education. The Philippines is also a signatory to the International Convention of the Rights of Children.

Other areas where children are found toiling to earn money to augment the family's income are in mining, deep-sea fishing, entertainment, pyrotechnics and entertainment industry. These are the areas that are considered hazardous not only to the health of the child but place his/her life at risk, according to Cayanong.

The DOLE has a tall order of reducing child labor incidence in the country by 75 percent in 2015, Cayanong said.

Central Visayas ranks third in the prevalence of child labor where majority of minors are found working in the agricultural sector particularly in sugar plantations, Cayanong revealed.

In areas where child labor is quite high which is compounded with the absence of schools or lack of classrooms that places children's education in the backseat, the "Classroom Manggagawa Abroad" aims to encourage working children to go back to school.

Cayanong said the program has been able to help raise funds for the construction of 42 classrooms and 14 school buildings in the region. Some of the benefited towns in Cebu are in the northern part such as Danao City, Bogo and Carmen while five are in Oriental Negros, this is learned.

Under RA 9231, parents are held liable when they allow their children to work and deprive the child hihs/her right to education, Cayanong stressed.

President Arroyo meanwhile bared her administration is achieving its annual targets in education as she hopes for a 1:33 classroom-to-student (CS) ratio or 33 students per classroom. Last year's target was 55 students per classroom or 1:50 CS while this year's target was 1:45 CS.

Mrs. Arroyo wants to implement the government's cyber education project of the Department of Education that is designed to make the country's educational system globally competitive and the Filipino students at par with those of the rest of the world.

The Cyber Ed Project uses satellite technology to provide an efficient and cost-effective solution to deliver educational services to public elementary and secondary schools throughout the country. The project links these schools to a nationwide network that provides 12 video channels, wireless wide area networking, local area networking and wireless Internet connectivity.

Under the Cyber Ed program, a total of 37,794 schools or 90 percent of all public schools nationwide would be connected in the next three years. These schools would receive live broadcasts featuring lectures and presentations from master teachers as well as coursewares on demand and other valuable resource materials.

The technology — a satellite-based distance learning -- is widely used in such countries as the United States, Canada, Mexico, Chile, El Salvador, Panama, Guatemala, Honduras, Thailand, India, Indonesia and China.

The DepEd's Cyber Ed Project is based on China's E-Education Project which covers some 500,000 schools and universities.

The project, an off-shoot of the ICT-based education agenda included in the economic cooperation agreement signed by the Philippines and China in June 2006, is being undertaken with the Tsinghua University, China's premier technology university and one of the world's pioneers in distance education.

About P5 billion was earmarked for the first phase of the project which will be operational early next year. (PIA-Cebu/FCR)

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