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This learning center in the Philippines taps free Facebook messenger for distance learning

Bea Cupin

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This learning center in the Philippines taps free Facebook messenger for distance learning
Learning shouldn’t stop just because school and learning centers have to shut down

MANILA, Philippines – Facebook messenger is, for better or worse, a standard in any smartphone in the Philippines. It’s a free and easy means to stay in touch with loved ones or even get the news, should an account have it set up.

But for one non-profit learning center, Facebook messenger has become a free means to ensure that its students continue to learn despite a weeks-long lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic.

AHA! Learning Center, based in Makati City and Tondo in Manila, recently launched its Eskwelang Pamilya program, dubbed “an education intervention built for the lockdown.”

It’s housed on Facebook and is text-based – free Facebook comes with connectivity but no access to pictures or videos, after all.

The free “text-based Facebook school,” geared for public school kids, includes modules to hone reading and writing skills, and lessons on the novel coronavirus and its implications. It’s also designed to keep parents informed about government plans and initiatives and connect them to medical professionals if needed.

Prior to the lockdown, AHA! was an after-school learning center that works with both kids and their parents to supplement their education.

Here’s what other things you need to know about the program:

  • Different online classrooms are available for different grade levels. They’re grouped according to Grades 1-2, Grades 3-4, Grades 5-6, and High School.
  • An AHA teacher is assigned to a classroom – a Facebook chat group – to deliver the lessons and guide students (and their parents).
  • Each “classroom” has around 80-100 members. In the chat groups, parents interact with teachers who are online for feedback and guidance.
  • Currently, there are 390 students from 21 public schools in Makati, Tondo, Rizal, and Quezon City who are part of the program. AHA has finished 3 weeks worth of lessons as of April 6.

The program is open to expansion to other communities for free. Check out the AHA website for more details on how you can bring Eskwelang Pamilya to your own household or community. –

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.