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82-year-old woman gets diploma in literacy

/ 02:55 AM April 30, 2012

COTABATO CITY—Eighty-two-year-old Candida Alamada never thought she would be able to read and write anymore, because of her age.

But Alamada, a traditional healer from Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao, can now scribble sentences and pronounce English and Filipino words.

Alamada is among more than 1,200 Moro women who underwent a three-month literacy class designed and implemented through the Magbassa Kita Foundation’s (MKF’s) Literacy for Peace and Development project.

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The project was supported by the United States Aid for International Development (USAID) and the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy.

On April 26, Alamada received her diploma, along with 849 other literacy class graduates. They made up the first batch of the program’s graduates in Maguindanao.

For her excellence in Math, Alamada was also named “Best in Numeracy.”

Alamada was speechless for a moment when reporters sought her statement during the graduation rites at Shariff Kabungsuan Cultural Center here.

Holding back her emotions, she said her being able to read and write at her age proved that age is not a requirement for learning. “It feels good to be recognized. At long last, I graduated,” Alamada said.

“Words and numbers are the foundations of all learning. They are very important steps because people who cannot read and count can never reach their full potential,” Robert Burch, chief of the USAID Office of Education, said after witnessing the graduation.

“Literacy, especially reading and counting, is important because it helps people to be more participative in community activities, thus, enabling them greater participation in endeavors affecting their communities,” Burch said.

Former Senator Santanina Rasul, MKF founding chairperson, said 400 more women would finish the course in a few days.

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Illiteracy among Muslim women is a perennial problem in Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, which make up the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Rasul started the program a few years back to address the problem. Beneficiaries had been using a mono-syllabic curriculum that the former senator, who was a teacher before entering politics, devised herself.

ARMM Education Secretary Jamar Kulayan said Islam teaches the importance of education.

“Education is obligatory to Muslim men and women, and it is never too late to seek knowledge. The Prophet Muhammad had said ‘One must seek knowledge from cradle to grave,’” he said in a message to the graduates.

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TAGS: Candida Alamada, Education, Literacy, People, Philippines – Regions
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