Eskulayan or the Eskwelahan para sa Kamalayan at Kalayaan (School for Consciousness and Freedom) is a rights-based, alternative mobile schooling program project of iglesia Filipina Independiente in partnership with ILAW para sa Karapatan at Kagalingan ng Kababaihan at Bata Inc. The project is also endorsed by Auxiliary Bishop Archdiocese of Manila Broderick S. Pabillo.
This came in continuation with the scaling up success of advocacy rights-schooling Eskwelayan in 2017.
The mobile school promotes human and children’s rights, protection, development, and participation in children, their parents and other stakeholders in the target communities.
Out-of-school youth in the metro
In Metro Manila, where an estimated 1.7 million children in every 570,000 households live in informal settlements with little to no access to food, health, potable water, sanitation, education, decent housing, information, and participation.
Children in this setting are subject to grave risks as to their development and well-being.
Eskulayan school project aimed to strengthen awareness, knowledge, and connectivity on children’s rights and welfare alongside the ability of communities to take action on campaigns and advocacies for the betterment of Filipino children.
Several programs including literacy and numeracy education activities thru alternative mobile schooling, mobile library and art space, group book and reading program, and health and play camp were conducted to children that are out-of-school youth or their families are living below poverty line and in-school youth but are willing to enroll and partake in the activities of Eskulayan.
Culmination of success
“Ang matinding kahirapan ay epekto yan ng umiiral na sitwasyon sa lipunan, bahagi sila (kabataan) para malaman nila kung bakit yung tatay nila ganito yung trabaho at hindi nare-regular,” said Eskulayan area Coordinator Villamor Reyes Jr.
[The extreme poverty is an effect of the existing situation in society, they (youth) are part of it so they would understand why their father has this job but is not regular]
Today, July 30, marks the first graduation day of the children in Maysapang among the partner areas of Eskulayan.
According to Nagkakaisang Residente ng Maysapang Homeowners Association president Girlie Caduco, children were seen to be playing in every street of Maysapang before. She noted that it has been a part of the children’s daily routine. However, everything drastically changed when the country was struck by a pandemic crisis due to COVID-19.
Caduco said that the children no longer had the opportunity to attend school or interact with the teachers and other students since these were ordered to shut down and they were forced to undergo blended or distance learning since 2020.
“Mahalaga na na naitayo ang eskulayan dahil isa ito sa naging paraan para sa alternabong edukasyon lalo na sa panahong kasagsagan ng pandemic kung saan nabigyan sila ng kaalaman paano nila pangalagaan ang kanilang karapatan bilang bata,” said Caduco.
[It is important that the Eskulayan was established as it has become one of the ways for alternative education, especially during the pandemic where they were given knowledge on how to protect their rights as children]
Even with regard to the demolition and eviction threats issue were incorporated and discussed to the children for them to be aware of the community’s local struggle for housing rights.
“Ang mga lesson talaga namin ay praktikal na makakatulong para sa mga problema sa komunidad lalo na’t nagsisimula na naman ang harassment ng R-II.” Eskulayan volunteer teacher Erlinda Ardales shared.
[Our lessons are really practical to help with problems in the community, especially since the harassment of R-II is starting again]
R-II Builders is a construction firm company utilizing the services of Jericko Security Agency that the residents reportedly experiences physical threats and harassments. The said company is owned by Reghis Romero who also owns the Harbour Centre Port Terminal, Inc. in Manila.
Eskulayan mobile schooling was then established in the Maysapang community and conducted in a weekday morning and afternoon sessions which was facilitated by two teachers and facilitators, respectively.