Kids out of school get new chance

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The Department of Education’s Abot-Alam program has got a high-tech partner in Sandiwaan Center for Learning in Manila in giving out-of-school youth (OSY) a chance to study, find jobs or become entrepreneurs with a little help from the Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Quezon City.

The program was launched on May 23 at the Pedro Guevarra Elementary School in Manila’s Binondo district where Abot-Alam signed a memorandum of agreement with national government agencies and non-government organizations.

The agreement targets an initial one million beneficiaries, starting with OSY from 896 barangays (villages) in Metro Manila. Priority will be given to those living in Barangay Isla Puting Bato, Baseco, in Manila’s Tondo district.

Rep. Zenaida Angping of Manila’s 3rd District praised the program for providing the OSY skills and knowledge “to empower them to be independent.”


Fr. Benigno Beltran, Sandiwaan executive director, traced the roots of Abot-Alam to the Alternative Learning Center that was launched at Smokey Mountain, also in Tondo, in 2000, catapulting the OSY there to the “digital world.”

The Abot-Alam program eyes those who are unemployed, in part because they were not able to finish their elementary or secondary education.

Located in Del Pan, also in Tondo, Sandiwaan Center for Learning—together with Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish on Kamuning Road in Quezon City—introduces the out-of-school youth to computers.

According to Fr, Beltran, the center’s beneficiaries are taught for free basic computer courses, basic computer trouble-shooting and jewelry-making, among other livelihood skills.

The one-year Abot-Alam program is open mainly to the OSY but it also takes in those between 45 and 77 years old.

The German Wine Society is a big supporter of the program, donating computers and other equipment and materials.

Jon Macalalag, Sandiwaan manager, said the Abot-Alam program aims to lessen the number of drop-outs by encouraging them to avail of the Alternative Learning System, which basically conducts examinations to determine if an OSY could be accelerated from Grade 2, for example, to, say, high school.

One of those who completed a short course in jewelry-making online was Miriam Legaspi, 22.

Legaspi said the program is “an instrument for helping people like me to become productive despite my lack of education.”

Abot-Alam is supported by the National Youth Commission, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Commission on Higher Education and De La Salle Philippines.

Labor and Employment, Agriculture, Agrarian Reform, Environment and Natural Resources, Health, Interior and Local Government, Science and Technology and Social Welfare and Development departments

The Armed Forces of the Philippines, National Anti-Poverty Commission, National Economic and Development Authority, Presidential Commission on the Urban Poor, Arnold Janssen Catholic Mission Foundation Inc. and Catholic Media Network, Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship-Go Negosyo, RockEd Philippines, Seameo Innotech, Smarts Communications Inc., Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines, League of Cities of the Philippines, League of Municipalities of the Philippines, Liga ng mga Barangay sa Pilipinas, Philippine Councilors’ League and National Movement of Young Legislators are also supporting the program.

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