Remember how as a kid in kindergarten, your mom or dad would bring you to class and wait outside the classroom until your class is done? Norberto Kuan feels exactly just like that all over again. But this time, his mom will no longer wait outside but rather sit with him inside his (or should we say ‘their’) classroom.
Melanie Kuan, 32, is the widowed mother of Norberto and will soon be his classmate in school. Both of them will enroll in the Alternative Learning System (ALS), a parallel learning system of the government that provides a practical option to the existing formal instruction.
Both Melanie and Norberto finished Grade 6 and hopefully make it to the ALS program. The other children of Melanie, Nurmilya (14 y/o) and Noemi (12 y/o) are in regular schooling at Katipunan National High School in Zamboanga del Norte in Grade 9 and Grade 7, respectively.
When asked about her decision to be back in school, Melanie said that she always had this dream of finishing a course and soon find a better job to provide the needs of her children.
Currently, Melanie’s source of income is by making roof materials made from nipa palm leaves and selling it for thatched houses. This is what keeps them surviving since her husband passed away in 2013.
She manages her P100/day earning for their daily consumption and her children’s school needs. Melanie knows that her income is not enough and this
is felt by her children. Because of this, Melanie’s eldest child, Norberto, 16 years old, decided to find a job to help his family. The help he does however cost him his attendance to school.
Norberto started to commit absences in school and soon stopped schooling to focus on his job. He could not balance his time and energy from doing school works and driving tricycle to earn a living.
Meanwhile, as a member of the country’s conditional cash transfer program known as the Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program, Melanie attends to its monthly meeting called the Family Development Session (FDS) where she learns about how to manage a family, financial literacy, and other government services among others. Her attendance to the FDS introduced her to the Alternative Learning System of the government.
Melanie saw this as an opportunity and decided to pursue her education, now, together with her son. She talked to Norberto about this education scheme and because Norberto also has a dream, it was not difficult for him to say yes.
According to Melanie, this is also advantageous for her because she will be able to oversee her son and his performance in school as how most parents would.
Nurmilya, Melanie’s second child, expressed her opinion about this decision, during a conversation with the Municipal Link.“Nalipay mi cay mu-eskwela na si Kuya balik ug si Mama. Aku sila tabangan para di sila maglisud mag-adjust. (We’re happy that my big brother and my mom decided to return to school. I will help them so that they will not find it difficult to adjust,)” Nurmilya said.
As a preparation, both Nurmilya and Noemi help their mother as she goes back to schooling by sharing what they have learned in the regular education system. Norberto, on the other hand, still drives tricycle during the day and reads his old notebooks at night to prepare his mind for the school days.
Melanie thought that she can be her children’s inspiration to finish their studies as well.
Their school class will begin in June 03. Norberto, Nurmilya, and Noemi are monitored children beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program of the DSWD. Each of them receives 500 pesos as a support to the educational needs such as school supplies, projects, etc.