Kiaol Elementary School: It Takes a Village
In the Philippines, where access to education continues to be a pressing issue especially in far-flung regions, two newly built HOPE classrooms in Kiaol Elementary School serve as a glimmer of hope to the 107 IP students who all come from the Blaan tribe.
Kiaol Elementary School is located in the Glan municipality of the Sarangani province. Prior to building HOPE classrooms, the community had long struggled to mobilize children from their homes to the nearest school in the area. The land where the school stands pays tribute to the Filipino virtue of bayanihan. Unknown to those outside the community, ten families from the Blaan tribe collectively contributed two hectares to help elevate the current state of education in the region.
Kiaol Elementary School consists of Kinder to Grade 6 students who had to cross a river to get to their makeshift classroom
“Before the pandemic, students would have to cross the river, sometimes faced with bad weather, before reaching the school,” says representative Michael Singcala. Additionally, the original space was not equipped with water, electricity, or a comfort room, leading them to connect to utilities from nearby homes.
With the classrooms completely built, students and teachers can soon comfortably focus on education inside fully equipped spaces conducive to learning. But it’s not just the amenities that will serve their purpose. Kiaol Elementary School serves as a beacon of inspiration, not only for the school but the community in general, as this is their first time to have a standard building.
“Magiimprove yung lugar kasi kapag may school sa isang lugar, mag-iiba ang pananaw sa buhay dahil may nakikita sila na propesyonal,” explains Singcala. “Ang HOPE classrooms ay blessing na nagbibigay ng pag-asa hindi lang sa mga tao sa community at sa kabataan, pero pati sa akin at kasamahan kong mga teacher.”
As the school looks forward to when on-site classes resume, the new classrooms are expected to be used as a distribution and collection center in the meantime to facilitate modular learning among the elementary school students, making quality education more accessible for all.