Community development practitioners often say that the best solutions would always come from the community members. People in the community know better how to deal with the challenges they experience. Given the right tools and materials, they can often provide innovative solutions to the most pressing problems they have.
The capacity of communities to thrive through creative means can be considered one of the best lessons of the school year that has just ended.
It has been a challenging year for everyone. Local Chief Executives had to contend ensuring the effective delivery of services in the middle of the pandemic. School Officials grappled with the delivery of quality education. Parents had to balance work and tutoring their children. Yet, despite the difficulties, communities chose to face the challenges with out-of-the-box solutions.
When the school year opened last October 2020, Palawan D. Lawansa understood that parents and the whole community needed to undertake an extraordinary role in children’s education in the middle of the pandemic. Being the head of the School Governing Council of Panalawan – Montia-An Central Elementary School in the Municipality of Bubong, one of the first steps he undertook was to convene the different community members to tackle the challenges Covid19 brought to the children’s education. The aftermath of the initial meeting was the provision of two-way radio sets for the teachers of PMCES. With some families living in far-flung areas, teachers used the radio sets to communicate with the parents. Some of them also used the radios to offer simple coaching sessions to children who had difficulties grasping their lessons.
However, Mr. Palawan did not stop with the radios. When all the SGCs of the municipality gathered for their assessment, he made a bold request. He asked the meeting facilitator if Synergeia can provide TVs to the 15 elementary schools across the municipality. According to him, the community can organize mobile classrooms with the use of TV sets.
The other SGCs seconded his request in the meeting. Before long, the Local School Board of Bubong made the request official to Synergeia Foundation.
Before the school year ended, each of the 15 elementary schools of the municipality finally, received the TV sets. And true to the original plan of Mr. Palawan, the TVs are now being used in the Outreach Mobile Support Program initiated by the school heads of Bubong.
If the SGCs in Bubong used TV sets to reach their students, the community of Tamparan thought of a different strategy. With the end of school year 2020- 2021 , the community has decided to set its sights in preparation for the next school year. They are already planning to conduct remedial reading classes for the various barangays during this school break. To ensure that teachers are heard when they deliver the children’s lessons, they requested 18 portable speakers. They plan to use the speakers in the community reading program they intend to start this August.
We all know that the pandemic has not only affected the academic life of the students. Mayor Akira Alonto of Marantao understood that the pandemic also affected his young constituents’ physical and mental health. With lockdowns preventing young people from meeting and playing with their peers, Mayor Akira thought about safeguarding the other aspects of young people’s lives. Hence, with the approval of the Local School Board, he requested Synergeia Foundation, to help in the construction of 2 playground sets for the children. With the playground sets in place, children can have the time to reconnect once again with their peers.
All of the examples cited above were not a product of a one-time meeting among the different school governing councils of the three municipalities. Instead, the innovations made by these communities are part of the extensive process that Synergeia has painstakingly tried to build over the past years. It is a process of empowering communities to decide for themselves. It is the process of asking local leaders to trust in the wisdom of their constituents. It is also the process of asking the local people the courage to actively work together and find creative solutions to their challenges as a community. And if you ask any community development specialist – these are the ingredients for real community development.