Education on Wheels delivers learning in poverty-ridden Tondo

EDUCATION ROLLOUT About 15 students hold face-to-face classesinside a bus as part of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines’ Open UniversitySystem. In this Aug. 10, 2022 photo, PUP motored to Smokey Mountain in Tondo, Manila,where students taking up a course in office administration, held classes. PHOTO BYMIKE ALQUINTO

THE Education on Wheels initiative of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) Open University recently held its on-site pilot run for in-person classes with around 60 participants.

Converting a bus donated by Century Peak Corp. into a mobile classroom, these young and adult learners enrolled in the program will be able to access free education — as learning is brought closer to their community.

The university partnered with the Sandiwaan Center for Learning in Tondo, a nongovernment organization providing basic and technical education to the poor, to identify a pilot community in Manila for the project implementation.

Through its Education on Wheels, the PUP Open University aims to serve the marginalized sector and help them find and land jobs upon completion of their degree in Office Administration.

Marimar Eder, one of the participants in the program, expressed gratitude for the opportunity to continue her education, especially as a mother of two.

“Dahil nakapag-face-to-face kami ng pag-aaral at natuturuan kami ng mga teacher namin, sobrang saya at excited kami dahil pagdating namin, nagsama-sama rin kami at nagkita-kita (As we join the face-to-face classes to learn and as our teachers were also able to teach us, we were very happy and excited when we arrived, and that we were also able to get together and meet),” she said, describing her experience on the pilot implementation of in-person classes on the Education on Wheels bus.

Classes on the mobile classroom for its first 60 learners are conducted only two times a week, and the group of 60 participants will be divided into two time slots.

Program chairman Prof. Jonathan Florida noted that the in-person pilot run for Education on Wheels was done in preparation for hybrid classes beginning in October.

He said that night classes may be dedicated to single parents and students who are working, to accommodate their availability.

Being a mother, Eder said that this flexibility in schedule of only attending classes for two days suits her since she can leave her children temporarily with her parents while she attends class and then fetch them after her classes end.

She pointed out that she was able to learn some aspects of managing businesses and computer literacy through the classes, which she could also use when applying for future jobs or starting her own business.

Eder shared that the Education on Wheels initiative also provided beneficiaries like herself with uniforms and laptops that they could use for class and complete their academic requirements. She said that free food was also offered to them.

PUP Open University Executive Director Dr. Carmencita Castolo hopes that the university will be able to further expand the program to reach more partners and in turn benefit more students.

“We bring education right at the doorsteps of our prospective students. At pagka-graduate nila, tutulungan din natin silang makahanap ng trabaho (We will help our students find jobs upon completion of the degree),” she said.

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