BPO workers answer call to mentor adult learners
The following is a contributed story from Convergys:
It’s a Saturday morning but Frizza Dogomio, 18, and Judy Gaspar, 20, are on their way to Cardones Elementary School in Taguig. They have enrolled themselves in the Department of Education’s (DepEd) Alternative Learning System (ALS) with its free, self-paced modules. An equivalency exam at the end of the year will determine if they qualify for a high school diploma.
DepEd’s ALS is a practical solution that allows learners to complete basic education in a mode that fits their distinct situations and needs. For school dropouts like Frizza and Judy, it means getting a second chance to have a brighter future, in a more flexible way.
Every Saturday, Cardones school’s vacant classrooms become available to the girls and other ALS students, providing a conducive place to study. An ALS facilitator is present, observing as students quietly read through “Effective Communication Skills,” “Think Globally, Act Globally,” "Teknolohiya Para Sa Mas Maunlad Na Buhay” and others.
However since July, Saturdays have been quite different in Cardones. Employees of the Philippines’ largest private employer, Convergys, have volunteered in a program called Convergys Connects for Education. For 2 hours each week, every student gets their own personal Convergys mentor to help them understand the modules, answer questions, and provide personal motivation and encouragement.
Right to education
While it is a basic human right, not all Filipinos get to attend or finish basic education. Reasons for this abound – some just cannot afford it, are forced to find work at an early age, or simply get entangled in unfavorable life circumstances.
In 2015, the United Nations issued 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), two of which involve quality education, as well as decent work and economic growth. It called for global support and Convergys heeded -- finding alignment with its own CSR pillars of workforce preparedness and stability. To help improve access to lifelong learning and future employment opportunities, it partnered with global NGO Points of Light which promotes voluntary service.
Convergys decided to pilot this implementation in the Philippines, its largest operating country. Points of Light’s local arm, Hands On Manila (HOM), became the company’s partner in implementing Convergys Connects for Education, specifically in support of DepEd’s ALS. Here, Convergys employees volunteer as mentors for out-of-school-youths and adults to help them gain high school diplomas. Today, 600 employee volunteers already spent 4,500 hours mentoring 90 ALS students – 30 of them in Cardones, Taguig and 60 in Guadalupe Elementary School in Cebu. The program will continue until March 2017. (READ: The real cost of education in the Philippines)
Judy, 20, dropped out of high school because of teenage pregnancy. She wants to give her 3-year old child a chance at a better future.
“Akala ko noon, tapos na yung mga pangarap ko, pero dahil sa ALS at sa Convergys, nagkaroon ako ng pagkakataon na mangarap ulit, para mapabuti at mabigyan ng magandang buhay ang anak ko,” Judy states. (I thought my dreams were over because of what happened to me, but through ALS and Convergys, I have another chance for my dreams of a better life for my child)
Meanwhile, 18-year old Frizza dropped out of a provincial high school at 16, when her sibling got sick and the medical expenses proved too much for a family already struggling to make ends meet. She went to Manila to try her luck at any job, as employment opportunities are limited without a high school degree. When she reached Manila, more challenges came her way. “Pagdating ko sa Maynila, nagtrabaho ako. Tapos nabuntis at nag-asawa. Isang taon na ang aking anak, ang asawa ko namamasada ng jeep. Mahirap ang buhay pero kinakaya namin, para sa pamilya.” (When I arrived in Manila, I worked. But I got pregnant and settled down. My child is 1 year old, my husband is a jeepney driver. Life is hard but we manage, for our family.)
Judy and Frizza agree that Convergys’ support effectively supplements ALS. “Sila yung nag-eencourage sa’min. Pinaparamdam nila na hindi kami iba, na malaki yung tiwala nila na makakaya namin abutin yung pangarap namin,” says Judy. (They encourage us. They don’t make us feel different, and they give us confidence that we will reach our dreams)
Frizza adds, “Makikita mo yung malasakit nila. Mahaba yung pasensya nila, ang daming module na mahirap intindihin pero tinatiyaga nilang ituro sa’min. Minsan gusto ko na sumuko pero dahil may mentor ako, ipapaalala niya sa’kin kung bakit ako nandito.” (We feel their concern for us. They are patient in teaching us modules that are hard to understand. There are times when I want to give up but my mentor reminds me why I am here.)
Judy said that, unlike in a regular school where students will question why she’s still studying at her age, ALS classes put her at ease, “Hindi katulad dito, yung mga kaklase, katulad ko na may pinagdadaanan din. Nagkakaintindihan kami kasi alam namin yung pinaghuhugutan ng isa’t-isa. Mas kumportable ako, mas nakakafocus ako na mag-aral.” (At ALS, my classmates share similar circumstances as me. We understand one another because we know where each is coming from. I’m more comfortable here and I can focus more on my studies.)
Convergys Connects for Education
Introducing Convergys Connects for Education! Watch this video to learn about how Convergys employee volunteers act as mentors to help students earn a high-school diploma in the DepEd’s Alternative Learning System. If you are a Convergys Metro Manila or Cebu employee interested to support this program, contact your Employee Engagement/HR POC today. #ConvergysPH #ConvergysConnectsForEducationPosted by Convergys on Thursday, September 1, 2016
Mentoring “pays it forward”
Based on the students’ stories, Convergys employee volunteer mentors like Ruter Agati and Stephanie Micu play a key role in their development and progress.
For Ruter, a Convergys agent and volunteer from Makati, the program is close to his heart because his son is a graduate of ALS. “It’s a way for me to give back what I owe the program for helping my son. It’s something I love to do because it gives me the opportunity to help people become better. It’s not a one-time CSR activity,” said Ruter.
An analytics manager from Convergys Glorietta 5, Stephanie is an active volunteer in the company's CSR initiatives. “I actually jumped at the opportunity because similar to my grandfather who was an educator, I’m very passionate about teaching. It’s a legacy and at the same time a valuable asset to build someone’s future.” (READ: 'Give a Bag of Hope' kicks of its second year)
Both believe in the project’s value and long-term impact. Steph notes, “Convergys already has a number of CSR projects. But this one allows us to give knowledge and motivation, which goes beyond material things, making it more rewarding.”
Ruter adds, “Mentoring enables us to give them something that cannot be taken away from them, something that they will always have for their future.”
With Convergys Connects for Education, the company aims to improve both the completion rate and the passing rate of ALS students like Judy and Frizza. But that’s just the beginning of a new chapter in their lives. No one knows yet what the future holds for them, but for now, Convergys employee volunteers take on the challenge of fueling their dreams, one module at a time. – Rappler.com