In time for the celebration of the 25th Children’s Month, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) dusted itself off from its safe confines and made itself known to the student leaders in the Province of Antique through the public-private partnership of CORE Philippines, Inc., Sibalom Glass and Aluminum Supply, Lacaron Integrated School, and Antique National School.
Not only were the student leaders able to learn of UNCRC for the first time, they, too, were equipped by CORE Philippines, Inc. with leadership skills set that they readily applied in surfacing problems affecting them and in identifying concrete actions to address these.
“This is my first time to know about UNCRC. We know we have our own national laws in the Philippines but it is my first time to know about this ‘UN law’. I am happy to know that there is such a thing that protects us,” said Jovann Paolo Catague, president of Yes-O Club of ANS.
Grade 9 student Luxrhey Hantoc of Lacaron Integrated School said they are thankful to have learned of UNCRC for the first time. More than that, they are glad to have learned leadership skills through the lectures and exercises given by Norma Pongan and Teresita “Babes” Chua of CORE Philippines.
“We are so happy that they came and taught us more about how to be better leaders. At the same time, we are thankful that we have learned to identify problems and think of concrete solutions,” said the 15-year-old Hantoc.
The Skills-building Workshop on UNCRC and Leadership Essentials were held on 15 and 17 November 2017 in Lacaron Integrated School, Sibalom, and on 24 November 2017in Antique National School in San Jose town, the capital of Antique province.
Pongan explained that CORE (Convergence for Organizational Resilience and Empowerment) Philippines, Inc. thought of extending its expertise to areas not covered by their partnerships with three networks—DSWD Field Office 6 ABSNET ( Area Based Standards Network) , Social Welfare Development Learning Network (SWDL-Net) and Bata Muna—and they were lucky to have met Engr. Gershon Mena of the Sibalom Glass Aluminum Construction Supply And Services, who also wanted to give back to the community.
“We have ongoing UNCRC roll-outs in public schools but these are in other areas although we always wanted to do something for the children and the youth, and in places outside of where our projects are. Good thing we met Engr. Mena who share our dream and so this initiative was born,” narrated Pongan.
Engr. Mena said he wanted to give back to the communities where they have clients and the partnership with CORE Philippines, Inc. is just a start. “I have been helping some people. Others would solicit for their sports uniforms. I help them to the best way I can. When CORE presented the idea, I was totally sold to it because I also wanted to continue what my late wife wanted. This is a continuation of her dreams and, at the same time, I want to share what I have been blessed with,” said the widower whose wife was a teacher at Lacaron Integrated School until she passed away. They have three children, one has graduated from Antique National School while two are still enrolled there.
After getting introduced to UNCRC, the student leaders were given several problem solving exercises to apply their leadership skills and identify solutions for the fulfillment of their development, participation, protection and survival rights. They presented these to the PTA and school principals.
The student leaders of Lacaron Integrated School, a newly-minted elementary and high school in one campus nestled in the hills about 30 minutes from the town proper of Sibalom, said the problems which greatly affect them are: garbage disposal/waste management, lack of water supply for hand washing and toilet use, smoking and alcoholic drinking, cutting classes and absenteeism, malnutrition, and parental issues.
Shaira Mae Florentino, 16, said they are alarmed because many students are addicted to online gaming and cigarette smoking. “They don’t sleep anymore. They stay up late playing games instead of reading and sleeping. They escape from class to play.”
Teacher Cherel Love Yamuyam said it was a unique and fruitful experience. “We got ideas from them which are really helpful. It is good that they saw the problems that we also saw. Now we have a help to address these.” “Now that these ideas are from the students themselves, it will be easier for us to implement them,” added teacher Hazel Joy Dones.
School principal Joefre Erfe said that actions must be taken so that the plans won’t just remain on paper but would be realized.
The participants in Antique National School, who were presidents of their clubs and organizations, identified poor grades/low performance, absenteeism, teenage pregnancy, and discrimination as their top problems.
ANS principal Merlinda Alvior said she is happy that the students are aware. “I am happy that you have identified the problems which are the same with what we have identified. We will include these in the school improvement plan as a priority concern. We will improve the implementation of our school rules and regulations,” she told the students and teachers.
Grade 10 student Greshanne Cabugunda said the workshop was interesting “since the topics were new and were of great help.” She liked much “learning the four pillars of the UNCRC” and will apply what she has learned as president of the Girl Scouts in ANS.
Grade 9 student Jovann Paolo Catague said he liked most the idea of “right to survive” and knowing how to be analytical. “I like what they taught us about knowing the expertise of your followers so you could guide them and so you will know how to treat them or to adjust to them.”
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is a legally-binding international agreement setting out the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of every child, regardless of their race, religion or abilities. It was adopted by the United Nations in November 1989. The Philippines and 193 other countries have ratified it.