This past Christmas, Romero already had a daughter who was now thirteen years old and could speak her mind. She asked her father how much it would take to teach children how to read. Apparently, the daughter learned from the examples set by her father. In addition, her daughter even recruited help. She had two other classmates who were willing to volunteer.
The lesson required a venue. Fortunately, they found a shanty in a neighboring barangay that was available. The project started on December 30, 2012. The program attracted a few children. The other two classmates who volunteered days ago did not show up. The reason apparently was that the mother of one of these volunteers inquired if volunteering to this program comes with pay. Romero simply sighed, "It seems like nobody wants to exert any effort now if there's nothing to be had...."
And the following is a video:
The project continued even with schools now open for the new year. The lessons are provided over the weekend and these are now held inside the chapel. In this endeavor, Romero sees the very poor state of basic education in the Philippines. These alternative learning systems are in place not because these are better ways of learning, but because the formal system is broken. Classrooms are overcrowded and teachers are overworked. Children are mass promoted even though they are not learning how to read and write. Romero cannot fathom why DepEd is unable to see that the basic education system is failing at the first and second grades. These problems are at the beginning and these only become worse in the succeeding grades and high school.
Romero and her daughter have decided to continue their efforts and hoped to keep it going through the summer vacation.
Romero sees his project quite well. He says, "It's not much, but it's better than nothing." His is an alternative means and one should pause and remember that "nothing" corresponds to the current educational system. The alternative tells us a lot about what we currently have. We should keep in mind that Romero also noted that among the children who attended were already third graders, yet, these children did not even recognize the letters in the Roman alphabet. Romero's efforts are not supplementary, his is an alternative means. Romero also noted books in the school being kept in locked displays. He was particularly disappointed when he saw that books that he had donated did not really end up in the hands of the students but merely kept inside cabinets perhaps free from dust, but also free from the children's reading eyes. This reminded me of my high school where books as well as scientific glassware and equipment are kept only for show.