Sunday, January 29, 2012

UNICEF horses ensure better early learning services in Sarangani


ALABEL, Sarangani (November 23, 2011) - The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has donated additional 13 horses to ease transport in holding home-based pre-school education in the hinterlands of Sarangani.

This is the second batch after the distribution of 10 horses in February this year for the Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) program of the province.

Home-based education for 3-5 year old children is commonly patronized in Sarangani in relatively rural and upland communities where pre-school facilities are lacking because of geographical distance.

The use of horses is a strategy in Sarangani to increase the participation rate of children, from 63 percent in 2010 to the 70 percent target this year.

Racquel Panal, assistant provincial social welfare and development officer, hoped this would also increase the number of children to benefit especially in remote communities “wherein services are very mean already at halos hindi na maabot ng ating mga service providers (barely reached by service providers).”

Supervised Neighborhood Play (SNP) workers usually take a half-day walk just to reach these communities.

Panal also lamented the minimal honorarium the SNP workers receive that could barely suffice for the daily fare.

Mila Labuan would take a four-hour motorcycle ride everyday to reach the site of her assignment in sitio Amlitos, barangay Kihan in Mapalatan. With the horse given her now, she said it would be easier for her to reach the site and can attend whenever there would be meetings at the Poblacion.

“Karon nga naa na ECCD materials, patuonon gyud nako ang mga bata kay naa na sila magamit (Now the kids have ECCD materials to learn from),” because before she would just make her own improvised learning materials for the 60 children she is teaching.

“Some of our workers are already serving five years.” With the ECCD on horse, she said they would be able to deliver the “best services to the children in the communities.”

The total 110 SNP sites established at far-flung barangays in Sarangani cater to more than 4,000 disadvantaged children mostly from the indigenous people.

The horses were turned-over with complete accessories like saddle, nylon rope and native horse backpacks where SNP workers would use to carry ECCD package for their classes like toys, reading and art materials, musical instruments, toothbrush, and utensils.

Panal said all these learning materials are intended to hone these children “for their total development.”

Board Member Hermie Galzote said this strategy (ECCD on horse) would be an effective motivation in providing “services to our children particularly to the lumads (IPs).”

Daan Suyan barangay councilor Fatima Hidalgo said the horse is a big boost in educating the children being the future leaders of our nation.

“Ang atong gobyerno naga tan-aw gyud diay sa kalisod sa atong lugar labi na sa mga bukid nga lugar. Dili nato ikalilong, kinahanglanon nato ni siya ilabi na sa atong mga bata nga gataas ang quality sa education karon (The local government is indeed sincere in poverty alleviation especially in the hinterlands. It cannot be denied that we need such programs for quality education),” she said.

The horses that were turned-over on Monday (November 21) benefited barangays Paraiso and Pag-asa of Alabel, barangays Daan Suyan, Lun Padidu, Kihan, Kinam, and Libi of Malapatan, and barangay Panamin of Malungon. (Beverly C. Paoyon/SARANGANI INFORMATION OFFICE)

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