WATCH: How a barrio teacher made learning science easy

Raisa Serafica

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WATCH: How a barrio teacher made learning science easy
Teacher Jennifer Rojo is one of the recipients of the 2017 Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Filipinos award

MANILA, Philippines – During a typical school afternoon, 40-year old Jennifer Manalo Rojo would dismiss her class for lunch break. 

“Class, are you ready?” Teacher Jenny would ask the class soon after they finish their meals. 

A resounding “yes” would echo within the 4 corners of the small room. The wide-eyed students gave all their attention to their teacher in front. 

The one-hour break is something her class has always looked forward to for it served as an opportunity for the students to learn and play at the same time. 

With puzzles and games, Teacher Jenny would use the remaining time during lunch break to engage her class of 30 Grade 5 students with their lesson for the day. 

Rojo does not teach physical education or art, as others might first guess. She teaches an oft-avoided topic: Science. 

Teaching science 

How can we make science an easy-to-learn topic at school?

This is the question that teacher Jenny, a teacher at the Neogon Public Elementary School in Tagaytay, tried to answer herself. 

Rojo has been teaching for 21 years already, specializing in science. Throughout her teaching career, she observed how students have had a hard time studying mixtures, anatomy, and other topics under her subject. 

“Kasi ang science, tinuturo siya nang English. So ‘yung nakita kong difficulty sa mga estudyante, they cannot express themselves in English and they cannot understand science easily kasi nga ang vocabulary nila ay medyo mababa,” Rojo said. 

(Science is usually taught in English. With their poor English vocabulary, I observed that they would have a hard time learning the subject because they cannot express themselves well in English.)

With this observation, Rojo created the Joyful Enrichment in Science vocabulary (JenSci vocabulary) worksheets in the form of puzzles and games. 


The goal of the innovation, according to Rojo, is to sow early interest in science among her students. The initiative proved to be very helpful to her students. 

“As I assessed, nakatulong siya sa (pag-improve) sa vocabulary ng mga bata. In fact, nakatulong siya para mag-increase yung aming National Achievement Test result in Science. From 2014 to 2015, nagkaroon siya ng, I think, 30% increase on our NAT result in Science,” Rojo said. 

(As I assessed, it helped in improving the vocabulary of the students. In fact, it helped in increasing our National Achievement Test result in Science. From 2014 to 2015, I think, there was about a 30% increase on our NAT result in Science.)

A look into the bigger picture showed that the achievement rates for Science among 6th graders in the Philippines showed a slow increase from 2014 to 2015. 


Achievement Rate among Grade 6 pupils
(Based on National Achievement Tests)
Source: Deped data as of September 2015



School year



















This doesn’t necessarily mean good news. 

Despite this slow increase, the Philippines missed its Millenium Development Goal to provide education for all in 2015. Worldwide, the global report released by Education for All in 2015 showed that only a third of the world’s countries succeeded in their efforts to provide universal basic education. 

Zooming into the Philippines, the report also showed that only 69% of grade school graduates from poor families move to high school. This is a dismal number compared to the estimated 94% graduates from rich families who were able to get their secondary education. 

In other words, the Philippines still has a long way to go to make quality education accessible to everyone, regardless of economic status. 

Development goals 

The progress made at Neogan Elementary School through the innovation introduced by Rojo is considerd important especially within the context of the Social Development Goal 4 which aims to “ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning.”

Under that goal, participating nations like the Philippines should “ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development” by 2030. 

While Neogan Elementary School is only a tiny barrio school located at a more rural area of Tagaytay City, its small leaps in the field of education reflects significant strides in the nation’s struggle to make education inclusive.

Siyempre, lalo na sa ganitong barrio school, kung may 30 students ako. Siguro walang 10 na masasabi kong magagaling. Karamihan nasa average. Tapos makaka-encounter ka ng talagang hirap talag matuto. Yung mga may learning disabilities. Challenge yun sa part ng teacher katulad ko kung paano mo mapapatuto,” Rojo shared. 

(I have 30 students at this barrio school. Of this figure, only 10 could be considered exceptional. Most of them are average. I would also encounter students who really have a hard time leanring – those with learning disabilities. That is a challenge for teachers like me: to make sure they learn) 

Teaching as passion

DEDICATED. Neogan Elementary School teacher Jennifer Manolo Rojo works outside of teaching hours to work on materials to simplify hard concepts into easy-to-understand visuals. Photo by Vee Salazar/Rappler

Despite these challenges, Rojo works hard to make sure her students learn from her. 

Aside from creating the vocabulary, she also developed the Mobile Sci-Hub/Lab – a house-inspired instructional material meant to simplify into visuals some hard-to-grasp scientific concepts. 

She did all these outside her work hours. 

“Hindi alam ng karamihan na kapag teacher, hindi ka lang basta nagtatrabaho. Kailangan mo talaga yung puso. Kailangan kasma yun kapag teacher ka,” Rojo explained.

(What many people don’t know is that when you are a teacher, you don’t simply work. You need passion. That is a requirement when you are a teacher) 

Fortunately, her contributions to Neogan Elementary School did not go in vain. 

Rojo is one of the recipients for 2017 Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Filipinos award

This year, Metrobank awarded 4 teachers, 3 soldiers, and 3 police officers. Each awardee received a cash incentive of P1 million, a gold medallion, and a trophy.

In 2016, Rojo also received the Regional Gawad Patnugot Outstanding Elementary Teacher Award from DepEd Region IV-A. 

She said she dedicates her awards to her old and present students.

“Simple naman ang pangarap ko. Kung hindi man sila maging katulad ko, at least maging successful sila in the future – na matulungan nila ang mga magulag nila. yun ang lagi kong pinapaalala ko sa kanila,” Rojo said.

(I have a simple dream: If they can’t be like me, I want them to become successful in the future so they can help their parents. That’s what I always remind them) –

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Raisa Serafica

Raisa Serafica is the Unit Head of Civic Engagement of Rappler. As the head of MovePH, Raisa leads the on ground engagements of Rappler aimed at building a strong community of action in the Philippines. Through her current and previous roles at Rappler, she has worked with different government agencies, collaborated with non-governmental organizations, and trained individuals mostly on using digital technologies for social good.