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Back to school: GAME ON!

Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick…

The sound of computer mouse clicking, and the clattering of the keyboards fill the entire room full of young boys as they yell at the top of their throat during an intense digital battle using only their fingers.

Their faces are lit with hues of blues and whites as they stare powerfully at the computer screens. Their eyes ecstatically move left and right trying to strategize every move to beat the opponent on the other side of the other-worldly machine.

Then Grade 10 student, Renz Tamonan was so immersed in the world of gaming within the corners of the internet café. He could go on and on and on, skip classes, get a quick bathroom break, and go back to his gaming chair and play the whole day.

In the morning, his mother, Channel, would prepare their breakfast before they head to school with his siblings. All prepped with school uniform, bag, and shoes, Renz looked like a dignified student who attends class, submits assignments and projects on time, and one who could actually make it in the real world once he graduates.

But little did they know, upon arrival to school, Renz heads on to a different route other than his classroom. During the day, he is nowhere to be found within the vicinity of Kumalarang National High School in Zamboanga Del Sur. He can be seen inside a computer shop tapping on a computer mouse and eyes fully concentrated on the screen. You guess it right. He skips school for computer games.

LOGGING IN TO THE NEW WORLD

The young boy was not always as he turned out to be. Back when he was not yet introduced to the world of gaming, Renz was actually an active student at KNHS. In fact, he was quite an athletic person, running for track and field competition and played basketball and chess in their school.

He loved mathematics and loved to participate in problem solving. He also enjoys building things out of scrap materials. His ingenuity and reputation precede him that it made other young boys in want to befriend him. And so he was introduced to new set of friends that altered the course of his gameplan.

His new friends introduced him to the computer games and there he found himself logged in to a new world.

THE ENEMY HAS BEEN SLAIN

Renz was so fascinated by the entertainment brought by this new hobby. Everything was new to him –the edgy colors, the fierce looks, the sharp visuals, the dark sound. Moreover, he was also enthralled by the strength of these characters that he gets to portray online. It was like he discovered a separate persona and a different world where he could be a hero and slay enemies that stand on his way to triumph. He felt invincible.

While some may argue that computer games are helping students relieve stress, others think otherwise. More parents reportedly say that computer games distract their children’s focus on education. It is considered as an enemy by many parents whom we have talked to. An example is the case of Renz.

Ilang beses na namin kinausap si Renz pero nahuhuli pa rin namin sa computer shop. (We have talked to him countless times about this, but we still find him in computer shops,)” Channel, mother of Renz, said.

Since he started playing, he constantly skips classes to the point that he missed taking his final examination. Because of this, he had to stop schooling.

The hobby took a toll on Renz’s education.  

Namiss ko yung mga kaibigan ko, kaklase, yung morning prayer sa paaralan, pati yung pagsagot sa math. (I missed my friends, my classmates, the morning prayer at school, I even miss answering math problems,)” Renz told his Social Worker.

In 2019, the Municipal Link (Social Worker) conducted a Gender and Development (GAD) Mapping in Kumalarang, Zamboanga Del Sur and was able to talk to children who were not in school. In the past, counselling has proven to be an effective way to encourage children to stay or to continue their studies. This is one of the interventions of the Social Worker that she thinks necessary to diminish the number of children who drop out of school. This is also part of the activities in line with the Bata, Balik Eskwela campaign which the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program advocates.

Through constant monitoring and home visits, the Municipal Link finally was able to encourage Renz to go back and continue his studies. Because he was out of school for quite some time, he spent most time helping his father in the farm, and he saw how his parents strive hard for his education. Renz felt sorry that he wasted his time and their effort to something that will not be able to help uplift their lives.

With renewed determination, Renz, together with the Municipal Link enrolled back in KNHS. As of today, he is in Grade 11 taking Shielded Metal Arc Welding. In the time of pandemic, he assists his father in the farm after he finishes his modules. 

He feels grateful that he was able to slay his inner enemy –the addiction to computer games and hopefully someday, with formal education, he will be able to log-out from poverty.

–SIGNING OFF

Renz (in blue shirt) together with his parents and siblings.

This post was written by:

- who has written 137 posts on DSWD Field Office IX Official Website.


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