Over 18,000 children most impacted by inequality and discrimination in conflict-torn and poverty-stricken areas in Mindanao are one step closer to a brighter future through the education and child protection support they received from Project SINDAO.
Project SiNDAO: Protecting Learning in Conflict and Complex Emergencies in Mindanao is a two-year funded project of the European Commission Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) led by Save the Children Philippines and implemented with consortium partners Care PH, ACCORD, Inc., and Geneva Call.
SiNDAO has made significant impact in the lives of children in Maguindanao Province, Lanao Del Sur, and Surigao Del Sur through its provision of quality and integrated child protection and education in emergencies programming. It also helped identify and address protection and education needs of children affected by violence, including sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), and risks brought by disasters.
The Project’s Return to Learning Program (RtL) has reaped positive results to learners in the formal and non-formal education systems. More than 93% of children affected by interrupted learning have shown improved literacy, reading, and numeracy skills. The RtL sessions also served as "after-school" or extension classes made even more interesting with game-based activities and interactive sessions.
Moreover, there was a 96% retention rate recorded among Pre-School to Grade 3 students who are at-risk of dropping out who were enrolled in the RtL Program for summer tutorial sessions. The modules they used were contextualized with inputs from Rawaten Children’s Advisory Council and piloted in areas in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
The RtL program also supported students, and teachers in non-formal education such as in Torils and Madrasah schools. Some of these students are orphans due to armed-conflicts while some are from families living in poverty and could not afford to go to school.
Saifun, 14, a student in Darul Aitam, Baloi, said that life in Toril is challenging because of lack of access to educational assistance. “We sometimes eat just twice a day since we don’t have enough supply. This affects our studies. Our parent also cannot send us money,” Saifun shared.
Meanwhile, Salahudin, one of Darul Aitam’s teachers said that funding is a concern of the school. “We don’t often receive assistance from the government and other humanitarian organizations. Our children cannot even afford slippers. They do not have school supplies and teachers are lacking in skills. We are happy that we were chosen as one of the project’s partner schools.”
Salahudin was one of the teachers who received training which included capacity on disaster preparedness for different hazards including development of contingency plans to better equip the schools on face to face classes. The teachers’ upskilling also involved classroom management and teaching techniques to support different students’ needs.
Aside from the education and protection support, Project SiNDAO also provided the students with functional and gender-sensitive hygiene facilities, school furniture and semi-permanent learning spaces.