Melanie Jimenez, News, Communication Management Office
Redefining education has been the focus of many educational institutions since Covid-19. Schools find ways to become more sustainable and resilient to provide pandemic-ready learning and address the prevailing problem of education inequity.
In response, the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) launched Education on Wheels (EOW)-Pamantasang Bayan, a bus-converted classroom, which aims to bring quality education to the youths in Tondo and other underprivileged communities.
The EOW bus-converted classroom is designed to go directly to the target communities, taking education to the doorsteps of the many youths who are unable to attend school due to financial constraints.
It can accommodate up to 40 to 50 students, equipped with collapsible tables, chairs, and whiteboards. Solar panels were also installed to provide energy for air-conditioning and other electricity needs.
Currently, 60 students from Smokey Mountain are enrolled for the four-year Bachelor of Science in Office Administration program of EOW.
“Target pa rin nating matulungan ang mga kabataan na hindi talaga kayang makapag-aral. Those students who cannot afford transportation and other basic school needs because of financial difficulties. Our aim is to bring education right at the doorsteps of these students who dream of a brighter future” said President Manuel M. Muhi, at the EOW bus turnover ceremony last March 17.
The EOW project was made possible through the generous donation of Patricia Keng from Century Peak Corporation, the Daily Tribune, in collaboration with The Sandiwaan Learning Center (SLC).
While conducting classes in a bus may seem challenging, President Muhi assures that students will receive quality education. Student enrollees of EOW still undergo an entrance examination while courses are taught by expert faculty members.
“Meron kaming entrance requirements para masiguro ang quality, para nasasala pa rin ang aming mga estudyante. We also have grading requirements for each subject.” said Pres. Muhi.
Classes are still held online via synchronous and asynchronous modes of learning due to pandemic constraints. This will be the arrangement until the limited face-to-face classes in October 2022.
To assist students in staying on track while using the virtual classroom, donors have provided students with WIFI and laptop computers, while the university provided modules and other instructional materials.
Degree programs in journalism, cooperatives, and business management are expected to be offered under the EOW project in the coming years.
The project also aims to reach out-of-school youth in communities across PUP branches and satellite campuses in Luzon.
With this vision of expansion, more donations are needed for the EOW project to cover bus maintenance, student meals, and additional buses to reach other poor communities.
“PUP is willing to provide quality and accessible education, but we need more donors who believe in our programs,” said Pres. Muhi.
President Muhi also stated that the EOW bus will continue to visit the communities even if schools return to full scale face-to-face classes.
“Patuloy pa rin po naming ilalatag ang programa, pangunahing target ay mahihirap na estudyante at mga kabataang walang kakahayang makapag aral, to finish their four year degree course kahit na wala na ang pandemic.” he said.
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