Integrating with the local community
Working with young people whose interests tend towards themselves and their small world can be quite a challenge in Araling Panlipunan (Social Studies). There has always been the effort to make topics real and closer to them, usually done through an educational encounter with various sectors in the community. So with the Grade 10 students (who have not been paying taxes yet) of Our Lady of Joy Learning Center we planned and actually had a fruitful interaction with responsible persons in the municipality of Consolacion.
We were blessed to have Ms. Corazon Pepito Sasing (a colleague of ours in the Cebu Association of Social Science Educators), the special assistant to the mayor. She arranged the various sessions. First we had the municipality’s budget officer. Through a PowerPoint presentation she presented the organizational chart of the municipality. After explaining to us basic principles in the appropriation of funds, she discussed the allotments for the various divisions. We learned a lot from Ma’am Sally’s very systematic presentation even including the various sources of barangay resources, that even the national government provided funds for, but that this relatively small local government unit had a whole variety of expenses. We were able to inquire about the 5% appropriation for Gender and Development activities which had been duly provided.
The students then proceeded to the office of the municipal treasurer, Ms. Ailyn Sy-Parado. She showed us the various forms, receipts: for residence-tax, tax declaration for real estate negotiations, certifications. People were paying taxes. The staff were diligently doing their tasks mainly of filling up forms. They projected a sense of awareness that it was important that there were accurate records regarding tax payments.
We were all very happy to observe the helpfulness of the various municipal employees. We observed them to be busy doing their work; no groups of employees were just chatting. The entire place was also kept very clean. Such experiences prepare students for dutiful citizenship which includes the payment of taxes.
The learning experience was not limited to the actual visit to the municipal hall. There was the preparation for the event. Students had various assignments: asking permission from the school administration and the municipal government; asking permission from parents and guardians; arranging for transportation from the school to the government office. Students also prepared the questions to be asked. They were ready with the thank you letters. These were all exercises in the valuing of a sense of responsibility.
There are many other features of the local community that the sectors of the school should interact with. In OLJLC, we always have a time for pupils and students to interact with what we call “Community Helpers” — peace officers staff of the fire department, and health personnel.
Community exposure occurred during lessons on the environment and disaster and risk reduction. They planted and monitored the growth of mangroves.
They visited the barangays to observe the level of preparedness of these local communities of Consolacion.
Students also explored barangay offices to find out about the presence of VAW (Violence Against Women) Desk or other approaches to women’s problems. Back in school they brought the forms to monitor these problems.
For local history, the municipality has the beginnings of a local museum which can be found in SM Consolacion. The locality also has a town history, part of the town history project of the province, initiated by Vice Governor Agnes Almendras-Magpale.
All subject areas can actually have activities involving going out to the community. These would actually help students in planning for their future.
These would create times of liberating young people trapped by their gadgets. Such experiences may lead to their becoming more sensitive to the realities in the community: the opportunities and difficulties experienced by people.
We are blessed in Our Lady of Joy Learning Center for the administration realizes the value of these explorations towards the local community. They actually facilitate these activities for they promote balanced and holistic development.
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