Ordinarily, when students go back to school in January after the winter or Christmas break , they would be asked by their teachers to list down their New Year's Resolutions. Based on experience, it is much easier to encourage middle school kids to formulate their resolutions than those in high school and college.
New Year's resolutions can be similar to formulation of short, medium or long-term plans and programs in a corporate or business settings. The need to review the past year's performance and make assessments on which areas or operations should be stopped or would require improvements are deemed important. The same is true for all of us, we make appraisals and judgments of ourselves as basis to do good and perform better next time around.
Encouraging the kids at an early stage to undertake New Year's resolutions by their parents or teachers is an effective tool in raising them to be focused and diligent in their studies and making them realize more what life is all about. As much as possible kids resolutions should be uncomplicated, doable and achievable to avoid failures and hitches along the way. Said resolutions should be foreseen as a positive realization at the end of the day. Some of these could involve household chores, study habits, play time and their relationship with family and friends. We often hear kids tell their parents and teachers specific things to undertake such as: a) I will do my homework and sleep in time, b) I'll be a good friend, stop bullying my classmates, c) I'll limit my use of computer and get away from video games and spend more time in studies, and so on and so forth.
Regardless of their beliefs, some kids surprisingly start their resolutions thanking God for the blessings received, others wished for good grades in class, and most of them included certain changes in their relationship with family especially with their Moms and siblings. Here are samples of the resolutions done by the kids in class:
“I just wanted to thank God for giving me life, food and shelter. My New Year's resolution is to know more about God, do my chores and respect my parents. Thank you for protecting my family, giving my parents money to buy food for the family and giving me an education.” - Zeina
“My New Year's Resolution is to be healthy, also try my best to do good in school, get good grades and also to behave in class”. – Tiffany
“For 2012, I want to help my sister and my Mom to learn English.” – Amy
“My New Year's Resolution is to read more than 100 books. My second resolution is to eat more healthy food and eat fruit and vegetables.” My third resolution is to get better grade in school. My fourth resolution is to help my Mom to do something with my brother. I hope my New Year's resolution comes true.” - Karen
“My New Year's resolution is to help my Mom do chores, help my grandma clean up the house, and help my brother clean up too.” - Isabela
“My New Year resolution is to wash the dishes more and help my Mom clean up more. …I also want to stop being shy.' - Kaitlyn
In a classroom with a ratio of 10/15 girls to boys, it has been observed that the boys were hesitant to write down their resolutions and were not as expressive as the girls. In fact, one boy even posed a query if it was possible to write a “No New Year's Resolution”. Of course, his wish was not granted, he was convinced to put his resolution in writing. Here's what he wrote:
“ I want to be cool and awesome”! - Jeffrey
Parents and teachers play a vital role in assisting the kids achieve their goals, no matter how simple their wishes are. Who knows it could be the first step in our quest to mold future better men and women and leaders in this world. Yes, it could be the first out of the long and winding steps! But this one step could definitely have a positive impact on one child's wish to the very least!
Lance, a 7- year old cute smart kid is currently enrolled in a private school in the heart of Manhattan. He just came from Singapore as his Mom's work (an expat) requires him to transfer from one place to another. Just like normal kids, he loves to play any kind of games, from high tech stuffs to simple paper planes and rubber band games. Some high end games which I would say he's an expert at it would include those which are found in his iPad , Nintendo 3Ds, plus his collections of pokemon cards. Don't dare to pretend to know this card game and you'll surely be corrected. He knows the game by heart including the characters and their respective position titles and powers. Once in a while, he chanced to show his prowess to his older play mates in board games, such as chess and checkers. Of course, he wins most of the times, but there's a hidden secret behind it!
(Note: Photos below are exclusively for use of www.myusefultips.com, hence not for reproduction and consumption of anyone)
I had the chance to meet Lance through kins last week and I was amazed of the boy's smartness and talents. He is not only well versed in kids' games but also in his academic subjects. When asked about his performance in school, particularly in Math and Science subjects, he was confident to respond that he normally gets straight A's. In fact, he proudly told the audience around that he can do his assignment in Science within five minutes. Ask me what was the assignment all about! It was a memorization of about 10 or more terminologies, such as water vapor, precipitation, hail, sleet, and the like. The assignment was for the kids to memorize the definition of the said terms and it involves not just 1 or 2 words but the full meaning of it. I was tempted to test his learning skills. After browsing the pages of his Science book and reading the definition of the words silently for about 5 minutes, he handed over the book to me. Acting like his teacher, I started asking him the definitions randomly, not using the sequence as written and arranged in the book. Surprisingly, he quoted the definitions most of the times verbatim, and others in his own words, but correctly defined. He's good in Language too, particularly in Spelling.
The said experience was astonishing, which I said to myself, wow! I have some encounters with kids in school who are in their Grades 3 to 5's, and it is frustrating to note that some, if not majority, of them couldn't spell out and pronounce the words correctly. They are very good in conversational English, no doubt about it, but when it comes to lessons in class, they hardly catch up. Surely, there are various factors behind it, but since this is not about them, let's leave it to the Language teachers and their parents to thresh it out.
Going back to Lance, there was one time he showed me a piece of paper with his writings on it. It was a short story and I thought it was a writing exercise in school. His Mom told me, it was his own composition to which he nodded. Apparently, he sometimes scribbles notes when he's alone. I asked Lance' permission if I could take a photo of it and publish the same in myusefultips.com blogsite. He looked at me with pure innocence and said, “Are you really going to publish it? as in everyone can see it?” When I said, yes, I could see happiness in his face, some excitement and he was really looking forward to seeing it posted and so he could check it on his iPad. The short story was written in a white bond paper with his own penmanship. Awesome!.
Absolutely, my cam did not do justice to the story. I could have scanned it instead to have a better view, unfortunately the scanner just gave me headaches, so I have to plainly re-write it here for your sake. I would like to say my apologies to my dear Lance as this post came later as expected.
Shown below is the full unedited script of the story:
“The Revenge of the Lost Viking"
"Once upon a time a little boy discovered about a weird looking fossil. The little boy got it and bring it to the science center then the scientist told the boy it is about the lost viking. The scientist said the vikings have a war but one viking ran away so who claim that fossil the vikings will come to you and destroy your hometown said the scientist. The boy feel tricked and lied from the scientist so he took the fossil home then the vikings arrived to destroy his hometown. The boy realized that he make a mistake about the story of the lost viking. So he tried to ask the scientist what their weakness is. The scientist told the boy their weakness, it is killing them with your heart. The boy said, “how to do that”? The scientist said to the boy to apologize to people if you are mean to them. So the boy keep on apologizing to people quickly then the vikings are disappearing but one viking left. The boy realized something to apologize he must apologize to everyone causing this big trouble. He apologize everyone for this trouble. There is no more vikings. The boy saved the day for the trouble he made. The boy said his name is Richard. So Richard return the fossil to where it supposed to be. Richard's mother is proud so she tell the President to give him a reward. The President give Richard a trophy. Richard is proud. His father was relaxed for Richard. Richard smile in tears. Richard and his family feel good about it. And everything is back to normal. And they live happily ever after. The End.”
Below is the photo of the story (clearer version), as written by Lance.
The lighter version but complete:
Bet you, it's uncommon for a 7-year old kid to be able to write like this. The smart thought that comes from an innocent and unpolluted young mind, particularly the moral lesson behind the said simple story is most essential.
I would have wanted him to explain the said story on video but I felt it was no longer necessary. The story alone proved how the young boy thinks and how profound the message it brings to young boys and girls.
I just hope Lance will grow to be a loving and kindhearted person and stays away from the lures and influences of evil doers. Very good job Lance! Keep it up!
Education is for everyone. This is true if all of us have the interest for it and have the means to acquire the same. Undeniably, it is the right of each and everyone of us to go to school and learn. However, what is actually happening is that there are some who have been deprived of the said fundamental right mainly for economic reasons.
UN-MDG monitor for Goal No. 2 revealed that while there have been strides in enrollment in primary education (about 6% increase from 2000 to 2008), it is still not enough to be able to hit the target 3 years from now. Approximately, 75 million are still out of school, majority of which are girls who have neither been to school at all nor have been able to finish or complete school's requirements. To date, UN data estimates that there are about 800 million illiterate adults all over the world, roughly 67% of which are women mostly from the Sub-Saharan Africa (e.g. Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Gambia, etc.).
It will be recalled that in “myusefultips” previous blog post, entitled “The Value of Quality Learning…." (http://www.myusefultips.com/?p=2237 ), it was mentioned that there are students throughout the globe who have been gifted with mental and analytical abilities but the problem lies on the needed finances for them to go to the best and quality schools and likewise the absence of certain interventions which Governments could have provided to its citizenry in so far as access to high-quality education is concerned. Each country has its own “best and brightest” boys and girls (poor and rich alike) and these privileged young minds could possibly build a brighter future for the next generations if their talents, particularly in science and technology, are unleashed, nurtured and honed.
UNESCO's (UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Budapest Declaration on Science stated, among others, that “….Science should be at the service of humanity as a whole, and should contribute to providing everyone with a deeper understanding of nature and society, a better quality of life and a sustainable and healthy environment for present and future generations.” Said UNESCO's declaration recognized that science has a role in alleviating poverty and stimulating economic growth. The world is full of natural resources to be explored and discovered through scientific research and its applications which are deemed essential to development, but at the same time the world is being attacked with huge problems (e.g. poverty, poor health, ecological degradation, etc.). Thus, there is plenty of room for improvements using the resources that are available around us so we can have healthy and productive life and a fulfilling and bright future ahead of us.
In view of this, Government leaders particularly in developing economies are being encouraged to put in much higher budgetary appropriations for education and invest in and assist the poor but deserving kids (boys and girls), most especially, to obtain the said scientific knowledge which is expected to yield benefits for the entire human race at the end of the day. Rather than delving more of their study and leisure time to social technology such as video games and frequenting to social networking sites, these young bright students should be motivated to focus on more productive scientific learning related tools to increase awareness and stir their passion on the "real" science and technology. However, these could be realized only if and when all the stakeholders starting from the students, parents, teachers, businesses and the Government are willing and able to cooperate and share their time, talents and treasures altogether.
One example of a Government which responded to the said call to formulate education related reforms is the Philippine Government. In line with one of the Government's agenda to invest in people thru provision of quality education and ultimately make the county be more globally competitive, the Philippine Development Foundation or "PhilDev "(a non-profit organization based in the Philippines and the United States), organized a forum with the theme, “Accessing the Global Markets through Science and Technology (Innovations in Education Summit), on November 7th at NYC 's Asia Society Museum.
The said forum was attended by various experts in the academe, business sector, philanthropists and ordinary people and media (including bloggers) who share the same passion and believe in the advocacy. It was also in collaboration with the Philippine Government with some cabinet officials as speakers in the said event.
As you may know, the Philippines ranks 75th out of the 142 countries based on the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report, specifically in terms of technological innovations. Despite the country's positive economic growth, there is but a widening gap between the rich and the poor, where the latter (majority) holds the bottom portion of the pyramid, so to speak. Poverty and corruption related problems have worsened. Acknowledging these problems, the present Government's administration has avowed to correct and improve this situation by formulating and implementing a budget emphasizing on education, health, tax collection efforts, conditional cash transfer (CCT) and other revenue generating measures.
According to the Philippines' Secretary of Finance (Cesar Purisima) who was one of the speakers in the said event, the Philippine Government is bent on transforming the country (which is an archipelago in terms of its physical geography) as an “Island of Excellence”. He shared with the audience the proposed “Aquinomics” (named after the last name of the current Philippine President) of the present administration which has 4 pillars: macroeconomic stability, investment in people (e.g. CCTs, etc.), public private partnerships or private sector participation in some of its major public utilities and infrastructure building (e.g. schools, etc.) and the like. However, even if backed up with good policy and good intentions, there will always be skeptics along the way. As a matter of fact, the newly coined "Aquinomics" is even tagged by some as “no economics” or “no to economics”! But it didn't matter, he got a standing ovation from the audience, probably for his eloquence or his convincing powers!
Nevertheless, the forum was successful as it elicited some supporters to pledge and contribute to the “Super Fund” which was created for scholarship funds for the best and brightest Filipino youth to pursue studies and careers in the fields of science and engineering. Those in attendance were encouraged to pledge about $5,000/annum or $20,000 for a 4-year course to the said Fund to sponsor a a poor but bright freshman college student for his school related fees. So, if you wish to be involved in this endeavor by sponsoring a young Filipino child or college student to pursue studies in science and any technology related courses and who could possibly become scientists someday, please feel free to coordinate with any official of PhilDev at phildev.org.
The said Forum on Education was indeed relevant and timely as we are in the 21st century education. To cope with changing times, it is imperative for all Governments to respond to this challenge of developing young, playful and innocent minds into critical minds. Even if a student is incredibly bright, he can't simply do it by himself. He would require some guidance and support from all stakeholders mentioned earlier.
Thus, for a country to be more globally competitive and to continue to thrive, each citizenry should have to educate themselves, not just aim for the simple one but a better high-quality education. As further stated in the aforesaid Budapest Declaration, "Science and Technology should be resolutely directed towards prospects for better employment, improving competitiveness and social justice." As such, education in science and technology could serve as the focal point to achieving an end to world poverty.
1. After the Philippine forum on Education on the 7th of November, a gala show was held at the Lincoln Center with Filipino-American talents who have been successful in Broadway such as Lea Salonga who starred in Ms. Saigon, for one. The repertoire was mostly from the compositions of the famous American composer and lyricist, Stephen Sondheim.
2. On November 17 to 19, 2011, the Fifth World Science Forum shall be held in Budapest, Hungary
3. Above photos are not for reproduction. Thank you.
Education is one need in life which is close to my heart! Is it simply because I don't have anything, but this?
Education plays a crucial role in shaping a person's career path and professional growth with the end view of becoming successful someday, i.e, getting better jobs and earning more.
However, most of us know that even in the field of education, obviously there is a rising social class and inequality. Talented students whose parents can afford to send them to top-tiered schools would have better job opportunities and potentially could be accepted to occupy managerial posts in multinational corporations and other large organizations vis-a-vis struggling but equally talented and conscientious students who could not afford to go to the best schools due to limited funds, left with no choice but to go to a low quality school, be contented with a non-bachelor degree course and if lucky enough would land probably in an entry level technical position.
This is also true in elementary and secondary schools where the said gap between the rich and poor are being experienced particularly in developing countries, where affluent families send their children to private schools with good teachers and comfortable state-of-the-art facilities compared to certain public schools where classrooms and facilities are most of the times dilapidated with no repairs or maintenance, no field trips for students, no smart boards and most of all insufficient good “quality” teachers, and all of these are due to lower budget allocation for public education.
The sad reality these days is that an educated man with higher learning would absolutely have the competitive advantage over another who have not been able to reach high school or college, in so far as access to employment are concerned. However, there are exceptions naturally to the rule where quite a few willingly college drop-outs obviously make it big in the outside world such as the likes of Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and the late Steve Jobs who became very successful in their endeavors because of their business acumen and technological know-how. Their decisions to pack up their bags out of college could have been in effect a blessing in disguise! It was considered an opportunity for them to pursue their dreams and do what they would love to do. As I said, these people and incidents are exceptions to the rule. It is not applicable to all, unless you have the necessary technological skills and that the same kind of opportunity knocks on your door.
For poor people, education is the only available weapon to battle the misery of poverty. It paves the way for majority of them (even middle class families especially in these trying times) to uplift their standards of living. As such, poor (and uneducated) but responsible parents who got no large tracts of lands , no money in banks and no businesses to give away to their children, would very much would like to see their children go to school, earn an education, be employed someday and save them hopefully from the bondage of poverty. To them, that's the best gift for their children, same thing for the latter to their parents. Thus, they would exert best efforts to go out of their way to look for ways and means to resolve the problem. Some would go to small lending institutions or even resort to “loan sharks” (this is the sad part), i.e. obtaining loan at an exorbitant interest rates but where small amount of loan repayments could either be made on a weekly or monthly basis. These families would also engage in small businesses, as food vendors and the like or join farmer, fisher folks or cottage industry cooperatives, just like what Lydia did, the widow in “my useful tips” earlier post about “Conditional Cash Transfers”, (check this link: http://www.myusefultips.com/?p=2453). Despite their hard work and patience, they are still faced with the problem on how they can sustain and cope up with the rising cost of education and related expenses particularly when their children reach high school, college and beyond.
But not all poor parents are high-principled like those which I have described earlier. There are some poor parents who do not regard education as one of their basic needs. Looking for food for them to survive is absolutely what is in their top most agenda. For most of them, education is secondary and only if it is offered to them for free, a decision will then be made on whether or not to send their kids to school. I think this is one aspect where Government and private sectors' investments are needed, primarily to help educate first the parents themselves on the importance of education for their off springs, that is from early childhood, to tertiary and so on. Empowering the parents as decision makers (e.g. sending their kids to school) will eventually make them feel part of the society as a whole.
This is precisely why there is importance in investing in education. Obviously, policy makers these days are being encouraged to re-assess and re-consider the subject in view of present policy discussions on poverty alleviation. Investment in education from both the Government and the private sector including non profit organizations is being regarded as a tool to increase productivity and thereby help build a strong economy. It is envisioned that Governments, particularly those in third world and developing economies and where budget for education is scarce, are inclined to partner with the private sector to offer “quality” education to all students, rich or poor.
Initial talks on private sector participation (PSP) in social services such as education under the third wave of privatization have been broached many years back, as such this so-called investment in education is not new. However, further discussions on the subject were either postponed or set aside due to some oppositions and resistance from certain stakeholders. As a matter of fact, one study prepared by an investment bank was placed on my table for review when I was still a public servant. I recall the consultant's findings and recommended strategies were elevated to concerned policy makers for consideration but the said recommendations were freezed to attend to some more important matters. Apparently, the consultant's recommendations were not seen as a possible solution to the country's problem on education at that point in time. It was seen to be politically incorrect and a bad policy to test the same given the wrong timing considering that it was an election year.
While the said proposed PSP recommendation could have resulted to better education system, it was seen as a bad move (anti-social) as the said proposed policy reform may not be embraced by majority of the people in the streets. The proposed strategy was not even a complete privatization of the education sector but only a portion of its operations, how much more if it was a full privatization. As such, partial or full reforms such as this could be shelved due to resistance from certain sectors, including the Government itself, primarily due to lack of political will.
Since then there have been emerging privatization strategies for the education sector considering that most Governments are of the view that an improvement in this sector would have beneficial impact on the life of the poor. As such education reforms have been adopted in various parts of the globe even in developed nations. In the U.S. for instance, there are parts of the country which have attempted considering the voucher system although it has not gotten to be successfully implemented, but some have adopted the so-called “charter schools” which have actually been helpful in a way based on studies undertaken by experts. It is seen as one way of bringing better education to under privileged group and a help to over crowded public schools.
Other developing countries are likewise making moves to fix their poor educational systems. Governments are placing more emphasis on education, finding all kinds of investment forms from all stakeholders as an alternative approach to privatization, mainly to enhance educational standards. One strategy on how to market these education-related programs and attract possible investors is to hold conferences, seminars and fora to provide a birds-eye view of a particular Government's plans and programs.
For instance, I got this invitation from the Philippine Development Foundation (PhilDev, formerly Ayala Foundation USA) thru its President Victoria Garchitorena to attend the forthcoming forum to be held on November 7th in New York to discuss on possible strategies regarding private sector participation in education and which of these are applicable to the Philippine setting. Briefly, PhilDev is a non profit organization based in U.S.A. and the Philippines (check phildev.org for more info.) of which its main thrust is "building an ecosystem of science and technology-based entrepreneurship and innovation for social and economic development in the Philippines."
For some who is not familiar about the Philippines, it is a small country in South East Asia, but it already ranked as the 12th most densely populated country in the world, approximately 99.9 million. While majority of its citizens can read and write, there are still plenty of improvements to be undertaken for its education sector.
Based on Phildev's account, the Philippines is one of the countries with lowest investment in education and “ranks very low in terms of global competitiveness”. As such the said forum is expected to be attended by people in Government, academe, business, non profit organizations, philanthropy, and other interested private individuals (non-Filipinos included) to explore ways and means to thresh out the issues and come up with doable solutions, e.g. looking for funding to strengthen education in science and technology or the so-called “strategic giving” for this endeavor, focusing on the strengths of its peoples, their technological skills specifically in science and math subjects at all levels.
Some of us may still have reservations about further investments in education but we all agree for sure that education is one of the keys to open our doors to economic recovery. Present administrations of both advanced and developing nations are formulating policy reforms that are geared towards investing in education, among others, as it has been found out that this is an effective way of lifting up our poor brothers and sisters and for them to get out of poverty, to make them competitive in the outside world, and contribute to build a robust economy.
For now, I shall leave the rest to our economists and scholars to formulate economic models and continue studying on the subject, particularly to show some analysis on how said investments on education could impact a particular economy as a whole. But even without the economic analysis/econometric models, I still believe (in hindsight) that pursuing investments in education, either from the Government or the private sector, would have a positive impact not only on a poor man's personal growth but also on the whole country's ailing economy. Thus, this is a global call for all Governments to stand up for this policy reform endeavor.
Lydia, a widow in her late 30's and with five (5) children to rear, lives in one of the poorest rural places in South East Asia. Just like majority of the women in the said place, Lydia is a homemaker used to spending most of her time attending to their young children's needs even during the time when her husband was still strong to till the soil of their landlord. Despite the hardships however, Lydia and her husband were happy and contented with what they have, with the only one full meal a day, and even without the basic needs for their children. But their happy humble days was cut short, Lydia was left alone, she was in “limbo” and didn't know how to cope with the sad situation. She had no choice but to learn to face the problem with the help of a community worker in their place.
Lydia is accustomed to a slow-paced life in their town. Initially, she had no difficulty dealing with the family's acute austere life style, trying to act now as both the mother and father of the household. Without realizing what she was doing, without too much concern about the future of her children, she taught them about life, her own way, particularly on how to be satisfied and thankful for everything. Not being able to graduate elementary herself and naïve of the existing privileges and assistance provided by their Government to family like hers, she allowed her kids to grow and stay at home. Her oldest child for instance who is turning 10 yrs. old, has not been able to go to school as she has already been given a responsibility to take care of her younger siblings at a young age while their mother works at a neighbor's house as a household helper with a measly daily salary of less than $2/day, and without social security benefits. The community worker called her attention and discussed the matter with Lydia specifically on the right of her children to formal education and other health related services.
The foregoing depressing situation being experienced by Lydia's family is not an isolated case. There are billions of people out there in distressed and poorer countries who are encountering the same problems as Lydia's, left with no choice but to be satisfied living with daily income of less than $2 or even worse, with only a dollar , or even less than that or with nothing at all. Can we blame these people, can we point a finger at and accuse them of making themselves miserable? For sure, if you will ask them, especially the rural poor, they will not complain, they will just coyly respond to you with a smile on their faces or sometimes their heads bowed down, and say “we're okay”, “we have been into this for a long time, we have been used to it”, we're truly thankful to God for our lives”, and so on and so forth. Believe me, the rural poor are on the conservative side, they are timid vis-a-vis the urban poor who are more conscious, vocal and assertive of their human rights.
The truth is, poor people just like Lydia, would not want to be poor all the time, all their lives. They didn't make it up. More so, they did not formulate a medium or long term plan on how to be “professional poor”. They have actually been dug in to the very bad situation that they are in, such that they find it very difficult to rise up in view of so many constraints, e.g. lack of resources, lack of education, lack of right connections, lack of opportunities or probably “lack of luck”. No person, in his right mind, would want or desire a life without food to eat, water to drink, clothes to wear, no access to education, healthcare and the like. Logic dictates that every person would want, at least, the basic necessities of life, much more for a quality life.
The aforesaid observation is in response to certain groups who are still skeptical about the true character of a poor man, and still hesitant to share their wealth to these people because of the notion that poor people became who, what and where they are now primarily due to laziness. This is also in response to the claims of some political figures that cash grants are costly, a waste of time and money than other proposed legislative measures such as the reproductive health bill. These are the same groups who have expressed reservations on certain Government-initiated programs that are expected to alleviate poverty in the short and long term. One program which still elicits opposing views in certain countries is the controversial so-called “Conditional Cash Transfers” (CCTs).
CCTs are considered as one of the financial tools available and provided by some Governments in collaboration with multilateral institutions such as the World Bank (WB) to the poorest of the poor in the society. It is one of the programs designed to help end poverty in certain countries, specifically by providing financial assistance, normally in the form of cash grants, to qualified poor beneficiaries, subject to certain terms and conditions. Basically, CCT is geared towards improvement in poor children's economic status as far as their education and heath care are concerned. The program has been in existence more than a decade ago and was first successfully implemented in Latin America, particularly in Brazil and Mexico. Based on WB impact studies and policy reports, CCT has had positive effects on poor households especially those with children such as, among others, in reducing poverty, in raising the utilization of education and preventive health services and also in household consumption (go to world bank website for further details).
In view of the successes and effective lessons learned from the Latin American's experience on CCT, other poor and developing countries such as that of Lydia's have followed suit and replicated the said program in their own native lands. As a matter of fact, advanced nations such as the United States, likewise tested this program but on a different context, on a much higher level. One example was the program initiated by NYC Mayor Bloomberg's office to promote quality learning for quality students by giving cash benefits or rewards to them should they be able to hurdle the State's Examinations. What a privilege! How lucky the NYC students are! However, the said arrangement appeared to have not much impact on the students as there were certain issues raised on this matter.
CCT likewise helps in empowering poor women in the society. One of the requirements of CCTs is that the money is to be released to women, normally to mothers in the family. The mothers are given the responsibility to do the funds budgeting and spending in behalf of the kids for their daily school and health care needs. Normally, mothers are perceived to be nurturing and more concerned on their children. Remitting the funds directly to the older women (e.g. mothers) in the family was proven to be effective as the mothers were frugal than men. Some men are seen to be more care free based on observations in certain environments where most of the men spent a portion, if not all, of their earnings for drinking, and other non-essential things. However, such financial arrangement on releases may be hostile to some male egotists in the family and may have negative effects on them in the long run, affecting the children's welfare.
Going back to Lydia's case, fortunately she was able to avail of the financial assistance with the help of their local community/social worker. Two of her kids are now enrolled in a public elementary school and used some of the money to buy school bags, uniform, slippers, shoes and other necessary school materials. All of their children have also been taken regularly to the health centers or clinics for physical examination and she started to buy milk and other nutritious food for her children. Without the CCTs and the help of their Government, Lydia would not be able to give her kids the right attention and care to them if she only relied on her own resources. However, in addition to the money given to her family by the Government, she got involved herself in livelihood programs where she is now a member of a cooperative making roofing shingles from palm tree.
Using Lydia's family case as an example, CCT proved to be extraordinarily essential in her quest to make her children get out of poverty and at least taste what quality life is. She's now fully aware and has realized that CCT is not a form of mendicancy, that it would not be there forever, as such, she's really doubly working hard for her children's future. Six (6) or seven (7) yrs. henceforth, two of them will hopefully complete elementary grade, a start of their childhood dreams, maybe a form of investment on Lydia's part but it is the only legacy which she can leave to her children.
With the CCTs, Lydia truly hopes that her family would be able to overcome their difficult yet challenging travel even on rough and chocolate roads to economic recovery!!
I have always perceived the U.S., an advanced economy, as the place where one can find the best of everything, especially in education system. This may be the reason why some people in most of developing economies, would strive their best to acquire a scholarship grant so as to achieve their dreams of getting higher education in an Ivy League schools or any schools for that matter in the U.S. (or in any developed countries), with the expectation that when they return home they would be able to pull back their ailing country from the brink of economic collapse either serving as technocrats in national/federal governments or land in a high-profile job as lead managers in the corporate world. Some are fortunate enough to hurdle the exams and enter into the more prestigious schools. If my recollection serves me right, a number of the professors and colleagues I've met were products of Ivy League schools and they do exemplify the kind of quality of education they've been to, reflective of their proficiency and efficiency in work performance. Graduates of the said schools may be better than others, but don't get me wrong, going to a top tier school does not guarantee a person's success, so it's non sequitur. There are plenty of non-ivy league schools which likewise offers outstanding education. As such, achieving quality education could be a three-pronged effort, it could be a responsibility and accountability of the school (Government), the educators and the students themselves.
Obtaining a technical assistance grant for studies abroad is an isolated case. You are better off if you've nailed it on the head, which only means you really deserved to get it. However, not everyone is given the chance to grab the said golden opportunity when it knocks on the door. In fact, majority of the people in third world countries or even the poor but qualified and competent students are still grappling to get an education especially in higher levels. But the more pressing issue these days in the academe throughout the world is the kind of education people get from their respective Alma Mater. Certainly, the level of learning in a developed country vis-a-vis that in a developing and third world countries may be far different in view of several internal and external factors, not just in terms of qualifications of teachers but also the school creativity in so far as requirements, policies and technical support are concerned. But again, this is quite subjective as one would argue that regardless of where a person is located if the student is not keen on his studies and not willing and able to learn, then the problem arises. And this is where parents and teachers should complement their efforts to encourage the student to strive more and boost his confidence. Parents should also be involved in the education of their children especially in elementary and high school, the formative years of their learning process. I believe that everything, including study discipline and importance of education should start at home.
In one specific developing country for instance, it is very surprising to know that many college graduates could hardly express themselves even in their field of studies and interests. This is rather bothersome as those not mentally gifted with higher IQ's may be left behind compared to the smarter ones, particularly in career development and professional growth, thus contributing to the increase in a country's unemployment problem. For instance, in a report sourced from a specific country's Professional and Regulatory Commission, only 35% of about nearly 100,000 newly nursing graduate examinees passed the Nursing Board Examination for 2011, the lowest passing percentage ever for the past decade. The said result merely reflects the students, the school and the teachers poor performance during the course of the study. But of course, it can't be discounted that there could be a few of them also who actually made it good while in school but were not just lucky to pass the licensure exams.
The foregoing scenario is not only true in the said specific country but also everywhere, it's becoming a global phenomenon. In fact, it is also happening even in developed countries like the U.S.. The U.S. public school's elementary and secondary teachers for instance are presently under scrutiny, so to speak, as the Government is set to provide excellent education to its young citizenry. While U.S. education is still pretty good compared to all countries, it has been observed that the Government has still failed to make the expected improvement in the quality of education and the students academic achievements despite the implementation of major education-related reforms. I understand there are such cases here in the U.S. where learning skills have diminished even in some tertiary schools. There are certain schools, for example, wherein almost of their students passed even if a person deserves to be flunked. I believe these institutions are geared towards implementing a certain marketing strategy, a diploma-driven system, so as to attract more students for their schools primarily for cash flow reasons and not really for providing quality education. But as I said, there are students who really excel in class regardless of the kind of school and education system. These are the type of students who are diligent, studious and determined to achieve their dreams. But what about those who are not as gifted as the rest, and more so those who don't even bother to open up their books, literally, and don't even care to level up their effort of study habits.
Having said all of the foregoing observations, it is imperative that providing quality education does not primarily rest on the schools and teachers responsibility alone, but also on the students. Students particularly in elementary and middle schools need their parents guidance as far as study habits and discipline issues are concerned. Parents should have time to instill in their children the value of education and monitor on how they fare in school. It would be hard to produce the best and the brightest in schools if the three components are absent. While the schools and the teachers should have the uttermost responsibility in ensuring quality education, the students should equally have the duty to study and do their work. Surprisingly in a survey/study conducted by some educational researchers of the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI), students are also of the view that their ability and willingness to learn are likewise important in the learning process. This is what I'm talking about, that quality education requires the participation of all the stakeholders involved, and there are no ifs, no buts!
If you have other views on this, you are free to voice out your opinion. Thank you!
In view of the difficulties that most of us are facing these trying times, one way of making Easter more meaningful and memorable to children, is by celebrating it in a non-traditional way. Gathering and telling them the story about Jesus' Resurrection, with a 30-minute movie animation on the subject as part of the presentation can be explored. In so doing, the kids would be able to understand pretty well why and what happened to Jesus during His last days on earth. There are a bunch of DVDs and CD's for kids available in the market. Just make sure that what you get is the most appropriate for young ones. One example is the movie, entitled "He Is Risen", like this one.
After watching the said Easter movie, treat them with a light afternoon snack for that extra boost of energy and thereafter assign an Easter Bunny mascot to distribute some goodies as part of the treat. As an e-friendly alternative for “plastic egg” hunting activities, you can hold an Easter card-making fun contest and whoever makes the best will bag the top prize. But of course, all of them shall receive something in return. Easter greeting card making is more educational and at the same time a means of forming the values of the kids at a young age. Making and giving away signature cards (wherein construction papers, markers, crayons are the only materials needed) to brighten the day of someone on Easter, like their parents or their loved ones, are some of the activities worth considering.
Take a peek at what the kids did for their Lenten and Easter promises. Some of them promised to be a good girl, to leave videogames (maybe during school days), not to fight with their brothers even if the latter are still mean to them, to help their parents in the household chores and more.
Wow, awesome kids! Enjoy and Happy Easter to one and all!
Lent is a time for praying, a time for sharing, a time for helping, a time of sacrificing, a time of asking God's mercy and pardon, a time of forgiving people, and most of all, a time to prepare for Easter.
Grabbing an idea from the school's lenten calendar, I asked the kids one day if they happen to know someone going through a hard time and if so, to make a card or scribble a note for them to cheer them up and to let them know that they are in their prayers.
Here are some of the kids works and let me know your ideas. I'm sure they would appreciate receiving them, especially from you guys, people they haven't met at all.
Some even took the initiative of making one for the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan without being told. Wow, awesome thoughtful kids! Wonderful job!
Shown on the leftis an unedited note authored by a cute young girl for the people in Japan. She's a terrific doll!
Incidentally, the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has designed a fund raising project, entitled "Operations Rice Bowl", in which majority (75%) of the proceeds shall be earmarked for CRS development programs worldwide primarily to help families and communities overcome the challenges of hunger and poverty, specifically in Haiti, Indonesia, Senegal, Honduras, and Kenya. The remaining 25% shall be used to fund the local diocesan programs all over the United States to alleviate hunger and poverty in certain parts of the country, especially the underprivileged and the homeless.
If you happen to be involved in a catholic school in the U.S., you probably have gotten this cute cardboard box whereby students were given the opportunity to help and contribute in any way they can during the Lenten season to care for our brothers and sisters throughout the world.
Have you done something like this before, or are you still about to do something like what the kids did?
The first day of class after the Christmas break was something to look forward to. Just like me, the kids probably had a happy excited feeling about their post Christmas and New Year pageant, particularly those who were in the main cast of the presentation. Before the play date, I was quite jittery which made me entertain negative thoughts about classes being cancelled due to impending snow storms, and therefore the play may no longer be pursued which could make us all frustrated. Anyway, I shunned the said negative tendencies and prepared myself for any eventualities.
Come the big day, 9th of January, thank you God it was a sunny day and no snow fall! I was surprised to see most of the kids already in the auditorium on time, as had been told. More amazing was that they were on their “something red” attire, i.e. red dress, red blouse, red tees, red shirts, red sweat shirts and cardigans. They made sure that they looked their best and I was just wide-eyed and fascinated at the looks of these young creatures!
Similar to any of the organizers, together with my colleagues, we made sure that everything was assembled before the play. The audience platform was starting to fill up and the parents were as anxious to see their kids being part of the show as they came in early too. As a matter of fact, they helped us arranged the seats for them. What a kind gesture from the parents!
We were doubly working hard to get everything in place, from stage production, logistics, costumes and the program agenda that made me forget I would act as the emcee of the play. Noteworthy to mention were the Christmas lanterns made by the kids themselves and which were part of the stage decor. Said lanterns were patterned after my own lantern at home. Here, take a look: (photos in this post are properties of myusefultips.com and therefore not for reproduction by the readers)
The presentation went well, as planned although there were some areas which could have been improved better. But you know, kids are kids, they are playful and not professional child actors and actresses. It was fun seeing them do their part from the main cast to the group chorus singing "Glory to God" and "Yes, Yes Lord" in four languages (English, Spanish, German and Polish) and with action too, it was just lovely as well. The narrators of the play were awesome, the Virgin Mary did very well and of course Julius Caesar, how can I forget him , even with a brief acting part, he made an impact on the audience!
While it made me proud to see young people getting involved with the school’s activity, what the kids did, however, made the parents more proud of them. The parents liked the play to which we’re grateful! After the play, the kids were treated to munchkins dunkin donuts and fruit juice courtesy of my colleagues, so thoughtful of them to share with us.
In any form of teaching or sharing knowledge to anyone, particularly to young minds and hearts, I would say that visual presentations like a stage play through music or drama could be an effective medium of instruction. Christmas and New Year are just the perfect seasons to do this kind of activity. The message will be sent across easily and effectively, and the children would have a vivid memory about the play when they grow up. This is one great way to get the kids excited about God’s word, HIS humble beginnings and HIS love for us!
Hey guys, I would like to share with you excerpts of the Valedictory Address authored by someone very close to me. I thought what he prepared was something worth sharing and could serve as inspiration for those facing difficult challenges in their lives, to the young and old , to people from all walks of life. The said address is entitled, “The Value of Everything” primarily to wake up and eventually make up our minds that material things are not essential to achieving lifelong peace and happiness.
The following are excerpts from the said draft speech:
"The Value of Everything"
“In behalf of the graduating students, I would like to take this opportunity to thank …. for providing us with excellent education and genuine support.
The most memorable experience that I had …….was the opportunity to meet a lot of other students – foreign and local – each of whom had his or her own aspiration in life.Although we belonged to different cultures we shared the same vision and conviction to make this world a better place to live in. During our spare time or on our way home, we would engage in discussing our assignments, our teachers, our lives, the current economic crisis, and our careers after graduation.Some of them were quite pessimistic about the job scenario that was unfolding because of the economic crisis, yet some of us would insist that there's more to life than finding a job after graduation — not that they would not find a job but that they could do better than that.
Today, we graduates should feel proud for we have surpassed a challenging path in our lives, and we should take this occasion to thank those who have supported us in reaching this far: our family, our friends, our teachers, and our God. We also have to thank ourselves for enduring those trying times.
But this graduation is a mere gateway to further challenges. There's a lot more to do.
I therefore would like to delve briefly on what we value in life and how a clearer understanding of it can shape not just our lives but also the society in which we live. I would beg you to listen to the thoughts that my mind whispers whenever the meaning of life strikes my curiosity.I am not going to say new things. I would just remind each of us of what we learned during our freshman year of what we can do to make our society better.
A thing becomes worthless or valuable depending on its state. A bottle of mineral water is practically worthless until somebody drinks it.A piece of bread given to a needy is mightier than a bar of gold exchanged for illegal drugs. A special minute spent with a loved one is more valuable than an hour spent on a flimsy film. A split second was what Michael Phelps needed to complete a new world record.
For many, success is measured by money. The more money you have, the more successful you are. But money is just a thing, and its value is relative.A beggar who spends his $10 to feed his family is richer thana man who saves money for the sake of saving money. Money is worthless until you spend it the right way. You become rich not because you have a lot of money, you become rich because you use your money the right way.
My fellow graduates. Let's fight to find that high-paying job. Let's fight to become rich and famous. But let's remember that true success is not just about money nor fame. True success lies beneath the value that we make out ofthe things that we have.
My fellow graduates, let's discover our true values. Let's be worthy. Let's blaze a trail for ourselves, for our family, for the needy, for the hungry, for the society. We will succeed.We have to…for the society needs us.
Congratulations to all of us!”
Incidentally, the author of this draft Valedictory Address was also named as the Alumnus of the Year and was confered the Special Achievement/Academic Excellence Award in his field!