Teaching reading is truly not just the job of teachers. In San Jose Elementary School in Pilar, Sorsogon, parents and community members help teachers in the school’s reading program to attain zero non-reader status. Among the most active volunteers in the reading program, Mr. Eliseo A. Loma, Jr. stands out.
“As a kagawad (village councilor) assigned in education, my priority is to help the school in its activities and one of these is the reading program,” says the 47-year old Kagawad Loma.
“My first love is teaching and I really like helping children learn how to read as well as see them improve in their studies. Teaching the children is like living my dream,” he added.
Kagawad Loma is an active volunteer in the reading program for almost a year now. He loves teaching because it was his dream to become a teacher. Unfortunately, due to his family’s financial problems he was not able to finish his degree in education. He instead worked in Manila for 15 years. However, he missed his family back home and decided to come back to San Jose, Pilar and stay for good. He was also a catechist in the school for three years before he was elected as a barangay kagawad.
“I want to help the children read because I want them to learn; this is how I want to contribute to our community. I have plans to run in the coming barangay election to continue what I have started, but even if I do not win, I will still be committed in teaching these children,” he says.
He conducts story-telling sessions every Monday morning and before the classes start in the afternoon (12:30-1:00 PM) during Tuesdays and Thursdays. But one admirable thing about his commitment to teach children learn how to read is that it is not only confined in the four corners of classroom. Every Saturday, he is actively involved in the “RIDE and READ Car Reading Mobile” program – one of the school’s reading activities that aim to support children who need enrichment in reading. It is like a mobile library filled with storybooks and other reading materials and volunteers bring this mobile library from house to house to visit children who are considered slow readers.
“The mobile cart is brought outside the school with the help of our General Parents and Teachers Association President Rodel Litana, together with barangay tanods (village police) and two teachers who willingly give their time to teach the children. Of course there are times when they are busy, so I go alone to visit the children. I sometimes gather them in the mini-park of the barangay to make it easier for me to teach them,” he narrates.
Kagawad Loma shares that the parents and children are truly happy to see the mobile library being toured from house to house. The parents are thankful for our effort of visiting their children and teaching the young ones how to read. As the adults admit, many of their children had very poor reading skill. The children also do not hesitate to attend the sessions and show their willingness to learn.
“As a volunteer, I am proud that I am able to help the teachers and the students. With this experience, I am able to expand my own knowledge and skills in teaching as well as boost my self-confidence,” he shares.
Kagawad Loma also cites the barangay’s support through the leadership of Barangay Captain Rolando Canon. In particular, the council gave financial assistance for the construction of the school’s reading center in 2015. This year, the barangay drafted a resolution for the maintenance of such reading center with the allotment of Php 10,000 (~€200). The local government also donated Php 4,000 ((~€80) worth of construction materials for the repair of the school’s reading huts.
“The parents and the community members are very supportive of the school’s reading program. Some parents donate story books and other reading materials. Others are active volunteers in the “Magbarasa Kita” and “Mother and Child Tutorial” activities. There is also a parent assigned in the maintenance of the reading center aside from Junior Librarians. Other pupils are also involved in peer tutoring,” he said.
“Because of the reading program, and through the full commitment of our teachers and volunteers, we no longer have non-readers in the school. Our focus is now on the enhancement of vocabulary, fluency and comprehension of children,” he proudly shares.
San Jose Elementary School is one of EDUCO’s partner schools and was awarded with good reading practices last April 22, 2016. The school’s initiative and innovations in reading program, which were further strengthened by the active involvement of various stakeholders, helped them achieve the “zero non-reader” status for three consecutive years based on the school’s Phil-IRI (Philippine Informal Reading Inventory) results.
# Story by Mylene Solomon, Project Officer