Students of a public preschool in Muntinlupa City no longer have to be crammed in day-care centers or hold classes in the hallway.
The Aklat, Gabay, Aruga tungo sa Pag-angat at Pag-asa (Agapp) Foundation and Filinvest handed over recently two “Silid Pangarap” classrooms to Itaas Elementary School New Bilibid Prison Annex (Iesa) in Southville 3, Barangay Poblacion.
Kindergarten teacher Violeta Tadeo said, when the rooms were first opened, preschoolers immediately ran toward the books and toys.
“The kids were so happy,” Tadeo said, adding that they became more enthusiastic in the discussions and activities in the new classrooms.
Before the kindergarten pupils got their rooms, they were taught in day-care centers because Iesa could not accommodate the nearly 600 children. One class has about 65 pupils. There are three three-hour shifts, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the IESA preschool.
Tadeo said, on rainy days, water would spill into the room, flooding the center. Because of the large enrollment, some classes were held outside or in the hallway.
Each “Silid Pangarap” classroom has three bookshelves, shelves for toys and arts and crafts and a grooming area.
The classroom is painted white, red, yellow and green, and adorned with posters and cutouts of flowers and hats.
Able to accommodate about 20 students, each room has four long tables, with six chairs arranged in a circle.
The teacher stays in the middle. The setup is unlike the traditional classroom wherein the teacher speaks in front of the class. Chairs are arranged in rows.
Iesa principal Antonio Rocha said in a statement, “When kids are comfortable in a classroom, they learn fast.”
Marlene Carcedo, mother of one of the children, said her daughter was very happy and even told her, “Mommy, I want to stay here (classroom).”
When asked about what she enjoys most, Marlene’s daughter, Jonalene, 4, said, “I like the toys, especially the boat. I enjoy drawing, coloring and storytelling.”
Another pupil, Josh Las Piñas, 5, said she loved the books in their new classroom, and she enjoyed the reading session.
Tadeo said, “These children have always been interested in learning, but with all the books and toys in the new classroom, they seemed to become more interested. Their reaction was very inspiring. They inspire me to be a better teacher.”
Tadeo said she was excited about the seminar that Agapp was giving them later that day.
Agapp executive director Gel Caguioa said the foundation teachers participating in the seminar would be monitored based on their pupils’ performance.
Caguioa said Feny de los Angeles-Bautista, multiawarded educator and producer of the educational television show “Batibot,” would be teaching the teachers.
“Agapp goes beyond building classrooms … We want to make sure that teachers in ‘Silid Pangarap’ are using modern and appropriate teaching methods,” she added.
Preschool was a crucial age, Caguioa said, adding that they wanted to develop preschoolers properly and prepare them for grade school, reduce the dropout rate and help kids realize their dreams.
Josephine Gotianun-Yap, president and chief executive officer of Filinvest, said, “Education is an advocacy that is close to our hearts … We know that we will be proud of these children someday.”
Filinvest chose Iesa because majority of its properties were near the school. “It’s a way of giving back to the community,” the company said.
Filinvest and Agapp will be building four more “Silid Pangarap” schools in Davao, Ilocos Sur, Surigao and Quezon provinces.