Soldiers turn into teachers in Alabang



MANILA, Philippines—Select Army personnel will temporarily trade their guns for chalk and other teaching materials this year to take on a different role as teachers to former street children.

Army chief Lt. Gen. Noel Coballes on Sunday said 25 personnel belonging to the Army’s Civil-Military Operations Group had undergone formal training as members of the first batch of the soldiers-as-teachers program dubbed as “Pinoy Batang Bayani.”

For the next nine months, he said the soldiers would handle pilot classes and teach Araling Panlipunan (Social Studies) to rescued street children staying at Tuloy Foundation Inc. (TFI) in Alabang, Muntinlupa City.

According to Coballes, the program is part of the military’s Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) Bayanihan, the Armed Forces’ anti-insurgency blueprint.

“[The soldiers] will share their expertise in imbibing the spirit of nationalism and love of country among these children every Tuesday and Thursday… for the duration of the current school year,” the Army chief said in a statement.

The program will be formally launched on Monday at the foundation’s center, which is home to close to 1,000 former street children.

“Chosen subjects to be taught are aimed to instill discipline, values formation and character development that will reinforce the spirit of patriotism, love of country and nationalism through classroom instruction,” Coballes said.

He said the classroom discussions would be “complemented by outdoor activities that will enhance the use of their imagination by the street children.”

Coballes expressed confidence the Army’s “unique undertaking and partnership” with TFI would “contribute to the fulfillment of the goals of IPSP Bayanihan.”

He said TFI’s “Aral Program” had been approved by the Department of Education to provide “in-house, nonformal education classes” using the Alternative Learning System modules.

Fr. Rocky Evangelista, TFI founder and president, said the foundation’s joint project with the Army was “envisioned to be a model template” for other nongovernment organizations involved in youth rehabilitation and education.

“[Providing education to] street children with varied upbringing [and] experiences… needs order, discipline and direction. Hence, the military’s unique disciplinary practices [would help us] realize the TFI’s vision and mission of keeping the rescued street children off the streets for good and transforming them into responsible and contributing members of society,” Evangelista said.

“[The] foundation’s comprehensive program [aims] to empower these children so they can regain their self-worth, self-dignity and self-respect,” he added.

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