Stephanie Choo, Columbia University
I commit to providing free elementary school education - via a three-year part time alternative learning program (previously known as informal education in the Philippines) - for teenage female domestic workers in Manila, which suits their unique needs and work schedules. This commitment aims to enable the domestic workers to complete basic education, thereby equipping them with more skills, knowledge and choices to seek better employment, be upwardly mobile and thus break out of the poverty trap that has encapsulated their families for generations.
I hope to be able to achieve the following: - Enroll at least 30-50 teenage female domestic workers for the pilot intake (this would involve educating their employers about their workers' rights to education, given the fact that Philippine national laws dictate free and compulsory education for all); - Ensure at least 60% of the workers complete the three-year program; - Enable at least 40% of the workers to pass the National Accreditation & Equivalency Test (a national exam that certifies a candidate to have attained a specific standard, e.g. elementary or high school level, despite not being part of the formal school system - the official national passing rate is 20%); - Increase the number of workers per intake, from 30-50 students (1 class) to 70-100 (3 classes).
I will meet the stated goals with the following steps: (1) Form organizing committee & rally key stakeholders: to assemble a core group of individuals who are committed to the project, and liaise (via email and site visits to the Philippines) with important community stakeholders in the Philippines. These groups include the Barangays (community centers in Filipino towns and villages) - for free provision of classrooms, the Bureau of Alternative Learning Systems of the Filipino Department of Education - for consultations on the syllabus of the National Accreditation & Equivalency Exam, NGOs that advocate the rights of domestic workers - for support in publicity, trainee teachers from teacher training colleges in the Philippines - to act as instructors for the program, a group of technical specialists - to develop study materials that suit the abilities and work schedules of the workers on a volunteer basis, and gain funding for the printing of the study materials other program costs. (2) Carry out needs assessment: to hold a series of consultations with domestic workers, their employers, activists familiar with the domestic work industry and education specialists - so as to determine the needs, average education level, abilities and attitudes of teenage female domestic workers, and thereby tailor an effective education and outreach strategy that will help them out of poverty. (3) Develop teaching methods and study materials: technical specialists to go through the syllabus of the equivalency exam and existing textbooks, understand the needs of the domestic workers, and design teaching methods and training materials that ensure the domestic workers maximize learning within their circumstances (e.g. flexible class schedules, adjusted learning speed and class load, cassettes that allow them to learn and do housework at the same time). (4) Conduct publicity campaigns to boost enrollment: to execute a series of outreach activities to educate the public about the benefits and rationale in educating domestic workers, and to encourage teenage workers to enroll in the program. There may also be targeted initiatives specifically undertaken to convince employers to allow their workers to attend school. (5) Constant revision of program structure: following publicity and enrollment, class will start. The program does not end here however - a series of revisions (be it to study materials, class schedules, teaching method, publicity) to be constantly made to refine the program and improve its effectiveness.