TAGKAWAYAN, PHILIPPINES Four teenage teachers, two in the front and two in the rear, drive a brightly decorated wooden trolley down a seldom-used train route in the southern Philippines.

The compact, mobile school, which is equipped with a whiteboard, colourful charts, and a stack of books, travels from village to village three times a week, giving education to destitute children near Tagkawayan while the Covid-19 outbreak shutters schools across much of Southeast Asia.

“It’s crucial that we do this, especially now that there’s a pandemic and the children can’t conduct face-to-face learning,” Shaira Berdin, one of nine volunteers who manage the trolley, said in an interview as youngsters crouched in the grass next to the railway track, thumbing through English books.

Tagkawayan is a town of around 54,000 inhabitants in Quezon province, approximately 176 kilometres (110 miles) southeast of Manila.

The Philippines’ remote learners have been hampered by a shortage of computers, phones, and internet access, as well as inconsistent educational quality. Some youngsters have had to scale roofs in order to obtain data signals.

Pushing the trolley like a scooter, the volunteers teach arithmetic and reading to over 60 youngsters as they go. They began their campaign in November and have collected instructional materials from contributions to utilise in their lessons.

While the trolley is halted, the teachers remove it off the rails, allowing them to utilise the whiteboard for spelling instruction and then go on to counting using flashcards. This also leaves the tracks open for other users.

“The majority of these volunteers are from low-income families. They, too, have faced adversity in their lives, which is why they wish to assist youngsters in need “Samboy de Leon Niala, a 26-year-old teacher, explained.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *