BADJAO LEARNING CENTER
Literacy rates among the Badjao in the Philippines are below 10%. And, fewer than 20% of all Badjao children are enrolled in school.
Our learning center targets these marginalized children who otherwise would be found begging in the streets of Davao City.
As funding becomes available, children who attend our learning center are eligible to become a part of the Child Sponsorship Program to attend a local elementary school.
What’s needed is a concerted effort across all sectors to improve opportunities and create better life chances for the Badjao.
Our long-term commitment is to provide access to school for all Badjao children, so that each one may have a chance to realize their educational goals.
While our learning center provides children with the basic building blocks of reading, writing and math, this is only a stepping stone which prepares the them for further schooling. We eventually hope to enroll every Badjao child in the Davao region in the public school system.
Most of the children do not have records of birth and an affidavit in lieu of birth certificate is required before enrolling in public school. We assist the children in acquiring the necessary paperwork and assign them a birth date based on interviews with the parents.
Once enrolled in public school the initial amount needed to purchase uniforms, shoes, books, paper, pencils and miscellaneous other school supplies for an elementary student is around $20, and $25 for students entering high school.
When we sponsor students we don't just buy them a uniform, school supplies, and send them on their way; we also provide mentoring, tutoring, and take the time to meet with their teachers throughout the year to monitor their progress.
We also provide funds for transportation, snacks during the student's break time, and purchase materials needed for school projects throughout the year when they are required.
Poverty is much more than it appears on the surface and it has more to do with self worth and value rather than a lack of money and material wealth. Education is the key to alleviating poverty. While everyone who graduates high school and/or continues on to get a degree may not land a high paying job, what they all have gained is a sense of pride. This is the long term benefit of education.
In the short term the child that is in school will no longer be in the streets begging which will greatly lessen the chances of him or her becoming dependent later in life or involved in crime or drugs. There is less chance of them being involved in an accident which may maim or kill them. For young girls being in school lessens the chances of them becoming pregnant at a young age which is a huge contributor to poverty. It also reduces the chances of children becoming victims of abuse and trafficking since a majority of their time will be spent in the classroom rather than on the streets. They will learn better hygiene and health care which will make them healthier and stronger. The benefits go on and on.
While many of these children may not go on to find a high paying job after graduating, the benefits of education are still enormous; just having one educated member of a family goes a long way in developing countries like the Philippines.
With an educated member in the household it is less likely that the family will be exploited through unfair contracts and business dealings and they will be less likely to be short changed when transacting with street vendors. The educated family member can teach their parents and siblings the basics as far as reading writing and math and in time the entire family will benefit from a single child in the household going to school.
Micronutrient deficiencies in young children can lead to various disorders such as Anemia, Vitamin A Deficiency, and Iodine Deficiency Disorder which lead to impaired motor development and growth, decreased immunity as well as adversely affect intellectual development and mental capacity. For this reason, we have started an in house Micronutrient program at Isla Verde.
We will be educating the mothers at the Badjao village at Isla Verde about the importance of good nutrition and how to incorporate Micronutrient powders into their children's diet.
One sachet of Micronutrient Powder per child per day provides an adequate intake of vitamins and minerals for children when mixed with food. Each sachet contains a recommended daily allowance of 15 different vitamins and minerals: Vitamins A, D, E, B1, B2, B6, B12, C, Niacin, Folate, Iron, Zinc, Copper, Selenium and Iodine.
Some of the benefits of micronutrients include:
Improving the body's immune system
Improving a child's appetite
Improving a child's ability to learn and develop
Makes a child clever, strong and active
According to the Philippine Department of Health, micronutrient supplementation has also been shown to reduce:
The risk from mortality by 23-34%
Deaths due to measles by about 50%
Deaths due to diarrhea by about 40%
With the exception of special occasions such as Christmas or in emergency relief situations, Badjao Outreach has a strict “no handouts” policy. We don’t “give fish” as we believe it is actually a stumbling block to sustainable development. However, “Teaching a man to fish” is something we believe in and have embed into all of our programs. We are always working towards an exit strategy so that the Badjao can manage, operate and continue the projects we have developed on their own at some point in the future.
In recent years many of the Badjao families here in Davao have been able to improve their way of living. Rather than begging for alms, a number of them have become entrepreneurs.
Currently “Ukay-Ukay” (The selling of used clothing and shoes) is a profitable business for the Badjao. And while the opportunity is limited, a few of the families have even been able to establish “sari sari stores” (Variety stores) within their community. We have provided several families with the start up capital needed to start their own businesses.
While these businesses are not in line with their traditional ways of livelihood, they are still producing much needed income. The current situation at Isla Verde does not allow for the development of cultural related means of livelihood, but we are hoping to incorporate mat weaving and other more suitable income producing projects in the future.