Real lives

Surviving the mysterious mountain

Rain, rain, go away

Home for Christmas

Safe from harm

UNICEF is coming to town

Below the poverty line

In the line of fire

Touch me not

Breast of the bunch

Practice what you teach

Starting over

Breastfeeding in Times of Crisis - Caring for Mothers and the Littlest Survivors

Twenty years of the CRC

After the flood

Under pressure

Time for class

Voices of youth

Nurturing children’s creativity in trying times

Jaime's Wish

A true story of a mother’s love

A better future for Filipino children

A UNICEF Champion for Education: Perseveranda So, 1956-2009

The LLK way of promoting health habits in schools

Watching over mothers

Art Baldestoy, the gentle giant of the Grade 2 class

Rochelle Canete, future policewoman

Judy Ann and the perennial flood

Learning to play and playing to learn

The case of the stolen ceiling fans

For whom the bell tolls

More than the ABCs and 123s

Days of Peace in Mindanao: Together, it can be done

Days of Peace in Mindanao: No more bloody wars


Rochelle Canete, future policewoman

© UNICEF Philippines/2008/Francia
Rochelle is vice president of the student council and 1st in her class. A diligent student and a caring granddaughter, she sometimes misses school to look after her grandmother, younger sister and cousin.

By Marge Francia

UNICEF believes that communities that come together for the causes of children hold great promise, that is why it supports educational programs that seek to involve parents, community leaders, teachers and students.

Christmas carols, colorful lanterns, new clothes and shoes. The Filipinos have one of the longest celebrations of the holiday season. Right on the first day of the “ber” months, September 1, Christmas songs start drifting in the air. It is no wonder then that children’s most treasured memories are of Christmastime, because apart from the much cooler breeze and cheery atmosphere, it is here when families come together to share gifts and express their love for one another.

For Rochelle Cañete, a 13-year old girl from a small town in Northern Samar, Christmas brings not a special air, but a special sadness. Rochelle was abandoned by her parents when they separated, remarried and went to Manila to start their new families.

“I miss my parents. I only saw my father once and my mother left me when I was young but I still remember her. Especially now that it’s Christmas, I feel sad that we’re not together,” the lanky sixth grade student said softly while fumbling with the hem of her old and faded school dress.

Little girl, big spirit

Now, Rochelle is left to care for her aging grandmother Milagros, her 9-year old half-sister Romila and 3 year-old Aaron, a cousin also abandoned by his parents. Despite her youth, she exhibits a great sense of responsibility. She helps her 57-year old grandmother make ends meet by selling balut, a Filipino delicacy.

“She is a very hardworking girl. I don’t ask her to work, she does it on her own. When I’m doing chores, she tells me, ‘Grandma, just rest and I’ll do these chores for you.’ Many people want to take Rochelle in, but she says she wants to take care of me because I’m already old. I tell her that it’s her decision but it is important for her to study hard,” her grandmother explains.

And study hard she does. Despite selling balut after finishing class at 5 pm and going home late at 9pm with a measly P150 earnings, Rochelle is the number one student in her batch.

“Even if she goes home late and tired from selling balut, she still finds time to study. Rochelle has even won district competitions in math, and also excels in sports,” Maribel Formaran, Principal of Libas Elementary School, says.

Absences and drop-outs

Sadly though, there are many times when Rochelle misses school because of her responsibilities at home. Like many of her classmates, friends and neighbors in the farming municipality of Lavezares who incur absences during planting and harvesting of crops, Rochelle sometimes misses out on important lessons being taught by her teachers.

Their school has one of the highest scores on the National Achievement Test exams, but it also has an equally high drop out rate because children are dropping out of school because of poverty, or because the students live in farms very far from the school. Students who could have grown up to become good doctors, lawyers or businessmen may find themselves mired forever in poverty because of this.

Thankfully, an alternative learning module called E-IMPACT or Enhanced Instructional Management by Parents, Community and Teachers, might be the answer to this challenge that Rochelle and millions like her around the Philippines are facing.

Making an impact

“Rochelle always asks my permission if she can miss school for 1 to 2 days because she needs to help her grandmother. She’s very intelligent, that’s why we hope to implement E-IMPACT because we can just give her modules to study. She can also become the ‘program teacher’ who can lead her neighbors and classmates in the same area to study the lessons they are missing,” Elena Flores, Rochelle’s adviser, explains.

E-IMPACT also taps the community, families and local officials, and encourages them to work together to make sure that children receive basic education despite their situation.

“We help the school because it is our duty to help each other. We are in constant communication with the teachers because we also think education is important to all children, because children are the hope of our nation. The future is in their hands,” Barangay Captain Rosita Mahinay said with conviction.

With help from UNICEF, teachers are trained to conduct E-IMPACT trainings to students, their families and barangay officials. They are given modules for different grade levels and subjects that the students can take home.

Libas Elementary School, being one of the beneficiaries of UNICEF’s Sixth Country Programme for Children, has already received modules for the first grading period and is now waiting for the others to be delivered. Rochelle has already been oriented in E-IMPACT and is confident that she can also help other students in the process. Like many Filipino children all over the archipelago, Rochelle has big dreams.

“I’m graduating this March and I want to study high school if my grandmother will permit me. I want to be a policewoman someday, like my father,” she said with a sweet smile. 

For more information on what UNICEF Philippines does to improve education in the country, click here.





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