Written by Vincent Romero
CAGAYAN DE ORO – Beyond the need for classrooms, chairs, and books, many students across the country remain in less-than-ideal learning conditions because they lack basic school supplies.
This is precisely what CheckMySchool encountered in Cagayan de Oro when its team presented its findings to school officials. Following a standard list of items to assess per school, CMS volunteers were able to identify concerns that the community and the government could address. During the meeting, however, teachers raised a problem that was not covered in the CMS toolkit: basic items such as a pencil and a pad paper.
“The kids are helpless; they are willing to go to school, but they don’t have complete school supplies,” CMS Coordinator Jonathan Mongcal said.
Although the concern was beyond what the government can typically provide, CMS volunteers came up with a solution to help children in need through an educational kit distribution project called “SaGIFT Aral.”
Mongcal, who is also the executive director of the Citizens Watch for Good Governance, said “SaGIFT Aral” is intended to provide children with basic school supplies to help them get started in class. Each kit includes pencils, notebooks, crayons, colored papers, and bond paper.
Another group, the Kiwanis International of Macajalar Bay, will provide the school supplies while CMS volunteers will identify the school beneficiaries using data they have gathered for CheckMySchool.
Students in six schools have already been identified to be recipients of the project. As of this writing, three schools will start getting the educational kits by July. These include two schools from Cagayan de Oro City and the Sumilao Bukidnon Tribal Academy, a private institution established to provide free education for indigenous peoples in Bukidnon.
Mongcal said providing for the six schools is a hard enough task already, and much more so for all children in need in Cagayan de Oro.
“It would be hard to provide for all the schools. The budget can’t handle it,” he said. “What we did was just to identify six schools, those in the hinterlands who are unfortunate and are really in need of help.”
Still, Mongcal said he is grateful that SaGIFT Aral is able to provide items that are beyond what the local school board, the local government unit, and the Department of Education could readily provide. As well, he is happy because another organization, the Kiwanis International of Macajalar Bay, is eager to help Check My School by procuring the school supplies. “We’re happy because it is part of what we promote – partnerships with other civil society organizations,” Mongcal said.
Edited by Karol Ilagan