Nurturing Youth through Education: The Success of UP Red Cross Youth’s “Batang KNL” Project

Bridging Gaps in Education

The “Batang KNL” project was developed by UP Red Cross Youth in collaboration with the Krus Na Ligas (KNL) Association for Hope and Unity and Lakas ng Nagkakaisang Kababaihan sa Barangay UP Campus.  Derick Cabotage, External Vice President of UP Red Cross Youth, shared that one day, a member who had been working with the KNL mothers’ association reached out asking if they would consider helping with their community learning hub.

Despite the lack of formal training or qualifications to teach at the time, the team decided to visit the Learning Hub to see what they could do. They met Tita Wilma, Tita Maricris, Teacher Joshua, and some of the kids in the community and decided to move forward with the project. Following consultations with everyone in the organization, the initiative gained momentum, and their story with the Learning Hub began to unfold.

This strategic partnership was crucial in identifying the needs of the community and ensuring that the project was tailored to address them effectively.

A Community-Centric Approach

At its core, “Batang KNL” aimed to support grade school children who needed extra lessons and who were eager to learn new skills outside their regular school curriculum. Recognizing the diverse educational needs of children in Krus Na Ligas, the project created a safe and nurturing environment at the Krus Na Ligas Community Learning Hub, where children could engage in various learning activities.

Innovative Learning Strategies

The project adopted a holistic approach to education, incorporating academic support with fun-filled activities. Volunteers from the UP Red Cross Youth, along with members of their partner organizations, dedicated their time and effort to offer a wide range of activities. These included:

  • Drawing shapes practices
  • Letter-tracing with colors activities
  • Number-tracing activities
  • Story-telling and reading practice activities using the Marungko approach
  • Problem solving activities

Challenges Encountered

Throughout their 8 month-long journey, the learning hub faced numerous challenges. One of the most frequent issues was coordinating schedules and finding volunteer teachers each week. Sometimes, recruiting volunteers was easy but other times it was a struggle. The team often had to support each other and, although their work was incredibly fulfilling, it was also tiring at times.

Due to difficulties in finding available members to teach, they often had a high student-to-teacher ratio. This made it challenging to provide individualized attention to children with different learning levels which required constant adjustments and improvisations in their teaching methods each week.

Despite these challenges, the team managed to overcome many obstacles, such as weather conditions, to maintain the quality of education and the learning environment for their students. Even on rainy days, the volunteers would still come in unless their partner in the site announced a suspension as a contingency measure. On hot days, they would dance during recess or fly paper airplanes. These small moments turned not-so-sunny days into fun and memorable experiences in their own special way.

Impact and Outcomes

Since its inception, “Batang KNL” has made significant strides in improving the educational landscape of Krus Na Ligas. No effort was spared each session. Teachers and students incorporated different teaching methods through music, games, and storybooks. The frequent participation of the tutees brought happiness to everyone, as they found a shared sense of joy.

Additionally, the volunteers took great pride in seeing the children’s improvement. Although progress was not always immediate, the children constantly tried to improve in every session. Some children struggled to read and write at the start of the project but now can confidently read, write, and recite the alphabet by themselves and even help their classmates. There were also children who were shy and mostly kept to themselves at the beginning of the project. However, as the sessions progressed, the teachers saw these children smiling and laughing during activities with other kids.

Testimonials from the Heart

The true success of “Batang KNL” is best reflected in the words of those it has touched. To the mothers and co-teachers, conversations after the tutoring sessions often involved expressions of gratitude. They mentioned that the learning hub had become more lively and was also attracting other teachers. These efforts brought happiness to the volunteers, the teachers, and the tutees. For the team, this continued to make all the difference amidst the challenges they faced.

Looking Ahead

Months have passed since the grant ended, and although the number of volunteers attending the learning hub has decreased, the team still tries to check in with members occasionally to see if they would like to join in visiting the kids and mothers.

As part of their long-term goals, the team aimed to improve children’s literacy beyond the KNL Learning Hub and into other communities. They hope that by sharing their experiences and stories, they can inspire others to volunteer in their respective communities. They believe that by showing children, parents, and themselves that learning can be fun, they can continue to hold onto the hope that a country filled with people driven by a desire and passion to learn can thrive.

The “Batang KNL” project stands as a testament to what can be achieved when passionate youth, supportive communities, and strategic partnerships come together with a common goal. Not only it provides immediate educational support but also sows the seeds for a brighter, more empowered future for the children of Krus Na Ligas. Through this initiative, the UP Red Cross Youth has demonstrated that with dedication and community spirit, lasting positive change is possible.

By: Ameda M. Tomie

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