by Lenie Lectura, 20 April 2015
EMERGING Power Inc. (EPI) and Arnold Janssen Catholic Mission Foundation Inc. (AJMFI) have teamed up to empower the lives of Tadyawan Mangyans through an alternative learning project in Naujan, Oriental Mindoro.
EPI and AJMFI signed a memorandum of understanding to cement the pledge of establishing Naujan’s Alternative Learning System (ALS) program for out-of-school individuals and nonliterate adults in coordination with the Department of Education (DepEd).
“Education is a right for all members of society. EPI’s vision is not just to provide power to Oriental Mindoro through geothermal energy but also to empower the people who are most in need by providing them that right,” EPI Chairman Antonio Martin G. Zamora said.
The ALS will consist of a Basic Literacy Program, tutorial lessons, seminars and other activities designed to improve functional literacy and provide holistic education for residents of Naujan.
EPI will fully shoulder the costs of ALS instructors, instructional materials for students, school supplies and other needs.
The ALS is aimed at addressing the education needs of large numbers of dropouts among residents of Naujan who are primarily members of the Tadyawan Mangyan tribe.
Among Mangyan groups, the Tadyawan Mangyans of Naujan have the highest number of dropout cases. Since most Tadyawan depend on their farming for subsistence, parents are reluctant to send their children to school so that more hands can help in farming upland crops.
The latest National Statistics Office survey indicate that 27 percent of the population of Naujan is still illiterate. Out of 100 Naujeños, only 31 graduate from elementary school, while only 20 will finish their secondary education. The percentage of those with college degrees is at an alarming rate of 2.3 percent.
“Though earning a living is favored over formal education among many Mangyans, EPI believes that an ALS can give them practical tools to enhance their literacy, communication skills, economic and social mobility and well-being,” Zamora said.
The EPI-AJMFI partnership is done in league with the DepEd’s Abot Alam program, an interagency effort aimed at achieving zero out-of-school youths by 2016 through education, entrepreneurship and employment. Instead of just learning, ALS participants will also be “learning with earning” through parallel programs designed to develop livelihood and employment skills.
EPI is proposing the commercial development of a Mindoro geothermal plant in Naujan. Recent exploration drilling of well pads confirmed the potential to deliver 40 megawatts to the Mindoro archipelago and commercial commissioning for the $185-million facility is expected to proceed as planned next year. The project is expected to put an end to the power interruptions at the two Mindoro provinces.
Under the approved power-supply agreement, the pass-on rate to customers of P6.85 per kiloWatt-hour will alleviate costs for end-users from the current rate of P11 per kWh. EPI is committed to infuse sustainable economic growth in the region through the project while ensuring that it will not harm the archipelago’s ecological balance.
AJMFI is a recognized service provider of ALS and has been an accredited program partner of the DepEd’s Bureau of Alternative Learning System for the past 13 years. AJMFI has already established 98 ALS centers in Cavite, Palawan and Metro Manila.