With the pandemic forcing schools to stop face-to-face classes and adopt distance learning, youth volunteers in a Northern Samar village have come to assist struggling young learners at home through the “Maleta ng Karunungan”.

The project is an initiative of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) or the youth council and a group of young educators in Libas village in Lavezares town, which aims to facilitate and improve the reading abilities of selected pupils of the Libas Elementary School (LES).

Top photo: TOWING THE ‘MALETA NG KARUNUNGAN’. Youth volunteers who assist readers in Grades 3 to 6 in Libas village in Lavezares, Northern Samar in this Oct. 19, 2020 photo. The project, dubbed “Maleta ng Karunungan”, is an initiative of the Sangguniang Kabataan and a group of young educators in the community, aiming to facilitate and improve the reading abilities of selected pupils of the Libas Elementary School. (Photo courtesy of Libas SK Council)

SK chairman Proculo Adriatico Jr. said the project started on October 19 and will be implemented until the school year ends.

“We conduct house-to-house visits with our maleta (luggage) containing the teaching materials, alcohol, face mask, and snacks for the pupils. This was conceptualized when we had a dialogue with village officials and teachers of LES on how we could help these pupils, considering that not all parents are available to assist them,” Adriatico said in a phone interview on Wednesday.

This in partnership with the LES Bahay-Basa program, which provided the youth volunteers the instructional materials they would be using during the teaching sessions with some 53 identified “struggling” readers in Grades 3 to 6.

Among its volunteers are members of the United Youth Leaders Organization, SK officials, and grantees of its educational assistance program for senior high school and college students.

Adriatico said they conduct the house-to-house visits mostly on weekends since these youth volunteers are also students taking up modular and online classes.

“We do not want to compromise the education of these volunteers. What we do is make sure that everyone is available and has done their class requirements first before we conduct the teaching sessions,” he added.

In return, these youth volunteers will be given certificates and earn them one-year experience credits they would need when they apply for a teaching position, based on the agreement between the youth council and LES.

To date, the project has 15 youth volunteers helping 16 teachers at LES, with 360 enrolled pupils, to deliver the learning continuity program of the Department of Education.

Apart from this initiative, the youth council has also opened its E-Library to help college, junior high, and senior high school students without gadgets and poor Internet access at home.

The library, set up inside the village hall, has three computer sets, a printer, and a Wi-Fi router, solely for educational use.

For its Covid-19 response, the SK has distributed free face masks and antibacterial soaps to each household in the community.

Libas is the biggest among the town’s 26 villages with a population of more than 3,000.

Lavezares is approximately 259 km. away from Tacloban City, the regional capital. (Gerico Sabalza, PNA)