PHILIPPINES: Students learning in blended environment
Eight Don Bosco Technical and Vocational Training Centers are providing a blended learning environment for 500 students thanks to Salesian Missions funding.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Feb. 8, 2021) Don Bosco Technical and Vocational Training Centers in the southern Philippines are providing a blended learning environment for students and teachers during the 2020-2021 school year, thanks in part to funding received from Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. The funding supported more than 500 trainees and 48 instructors in eight Don Bosco centers in Cebu, Negros, Iloilo, Eastern Samar in the Visayas Islands and Davao in the Mindanao Islands.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an upheaval in all aspects of life, including education,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “Digital readiness has never been more important. We are pleased to be able to support Salesian missionaries as they work to find a new way of educating students and ensuring that their teachers have the resources that they need to continue to provide technical and vocational training.”
Don Bosco centers in the southern Philippines are committed to delivering blended learning this school year and in the future. Centers are working to reimagine educational opportunities to create a “new normal” that maintains and improves the quality of life of students.
Internet connectivity is a challenge not only faced by Don Bosco educators and learners but by the whole country. The biggest hurdle is the lack of access to online facilities for those living in conditions of poverty. With funding, recording rooms were set up in each of the Don Bosco centers for digital production of learning materials.
In addition, the funding provided a trainee package comprising of a flash drive, printed modules, two washable face masks and one face shield. Trainees were also given a rent-to-own tablet, along with a food and accommodation subsidy.
Online classes are using a combination of Google Classrooms, Google Meet and Facebook Messenger. During online classes, trainees can use the flash drive, which contains digital learning modules, including videos, illustrations, interactive exercises and other offline learning modalities developed by the Don Bosco centers. Content of the flash drives is updated with each week’s lessons along with a printable version of the educational materials.
The Don Bosco centers are providing a monthly internet incentive to instructors to facilitate online teaching, online activities, and online follow-ups. At the Don Bosco centers, there is internet connection for instructors. For instructors who do not have a device for online classes, rent-to-own laptops are being made available for two years interest-free.
Since 1950, Salesian Missions has been providing crucial help in the Philippines—working with at-risk youth, impoverished families and disaster victims. Humanitarian agencies warn of the dangers faced by the most disadvantaged children in the Philippines. According to UNICEF, there are at least 1.2 million children between the ages of 5 and 15 who are out of school and are being left behind. In addition, children born into the poorest 20 percent of the population are almost three times more likely to die during their first five years as those from the richest 20 percent.
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