by Darlene Motil
Pupils of Lower Kiwanan Elementary School learning how to read through Bible.
MIDSAYAP, NORTH COTABATO— No pupil will be left behind. This has become a personal challenge for Cecile Sembrano, school head of Lower Kiwanan Elementary School in Midsayap, North Cotabato.
Being in the service for 15 years, she has faced all sorts of problems. In the school where she is currently assigned, lack of water, no canteen, and school security were just a few of them.
The problem that she has been most concerned with is the poor reading skills and memory retention among pupils. In Lower Kiwanan ES, there are 30 non-readers out of 310 pupils. Some of them are already in 4th to 6th grades.
Cecile Sembrano, school head of Lower Kiwanan Elementary School in Midsayap, North Cotabato.
The teachers tried conducting special reading classes in the afternoon for these pupils. But with other tasks at hand, such as preparing lesson plans and reports, teachers couldn’t commit fully to the additional teaching load. Principal Sembrano also had to consider the well-being of her teachers.
“We had to look for other ways to address this issue. So, we tapped CheckMySchool. They have been monitoring our school for years now,” Principal Sembrano recalled.
Ramel Palapo, CMS coordinator in North Cotabato, reached out to different organizations until he received a positive response from a religious group called International Grace Ministry or IGM.
Lilibeth Catulong from the International Grace Ministry guides the pupils in reading Bible verses. She also corrects their pronunciation.
With the approval of Schools Division Superintendent Omar A. Obas, IGM organized a six-month long reading program for Lower Kiwanan ES. Because it is a religious organization, they have been using Bibles as reading material. To enhance pupils’ attendance, IGM also included supplemental feeding as part of the program.
“Although they memorize Bible verses, we do not impose any religion to the pupils. The ultimate goal of this program is to sharpen [the reading skills of] public school learners,” the principal explained.
Lilibeth Catulong, a member of IGM, volunteered to handle the reading activity, an hour a day, five times a week. All the pupils of Lower Kiwanan ES participated in the program.
Teacher Jenniffer Cayacap has observed the improvement in the reading skills of her Grade 6 class after attending the program. “Noong pasukan, may dalawa akong pupils na hindi marunong magbasa talaga. Pero ngayon, nakakabasa na sila. Hindi pa mabilis, pero marunong na. Mas naging focused din yung iba kong students sa pag-aaral,” she shared. (At the start of classes, I had two non-readers. But they can read now. They’re not fast readers yet, but at least they already know how to read.)
Everyday, a special reading class to improve the reading skills and memory retention of the pupils of Lower Kiwanan Elementary School.
Lower Kiwanan ES wants to equip its pupils with the basic competencies they will need in high school. “Hindi kami papayag na may ga-graduate na bata na hindi marunong magbasa,” Principal Sembrano promised. (We will not let a pupil graduate without learning how to read.)
Basic education holds a crucial role in laying solid foundation for every learner. Teachers of Lower Kiwanan ES learned through experience that to succeed, one should consider alternative ways of instruction. “Thank you to Sir Ramel Palapo of CheckMySchool for bridging us to IGM. We were able to develop confident pupils because of them,” Principal Sebramo said.