DSWD’s FDS inspires mothers to go back to school (Feature)

By Leilani S. Junio

MANILA, (PNA) — It is never too late to pursue and learn the value of education.

These were proven by Maria Crispina de la Fuente, 27, of Barangay Anao, Cabagan, Isabela, and Marichu Amarillo, 40, of Mauban, Quezon, because like their children, they are currently going to school too.’

Maria Crispina is a second year college student now at Isabela State University in Cabagan taking up Bachelor of Science in Information Technology (BSIT) while Marichu is pursuing BS in Education.

Both are elated when they passed the Accreditation Equivalency Test to qualify for the Department of Education’s (DepEd)’s Alternative Learning System (ALS) program supported by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

”We are very thankful that there is an ALS program which was introduced to us when we became beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps),” said Maria Crispina.

Maria Crispina said that she learned about the program while attending one of the Family Development Sessions (FDS) being conducted by DSWD as part of the requirements for inclusion in 4P’s.

“FDS also taught us the value of education. It strengthens my belief that age will not deter anyone to finish school,” Maria Crispina stressed.

“Regular attendance to the FDS became a turning point in our lives,” admitted Marichu, another mother claiming that 4P’s influence her a lot to realize the value of education to attain empowerment and stepping-up to other opportunities for dreaming and striving beneficiaries like them.

Both attested to the fact that 4P’s brought a lot of changes in their lives, not only in the financial aspects like ability to send their children to school and maintaining regular visits to health centers, but moreover, in developing self-confidence and beliefs in life to pursue other areas of development.

Maria Crispina has three children, Marian, Grade 4; Rhea, Kinder; and Henry Jr., a daycare pupil. All her three children are covered by the 4P’s.

Marichu, on the other hand, has five children and three are beneficiaries of 4P’s.

The families of Maria Crispina and Marichu are among the 3,924,157 (as of July 24, 2013) beneficiaries of 4P’s of the DSWD.

They are both hoping that as they earned a degree, their pursuit for another level of dream are moving them closer to their goal of improving their status in life and not be contented to remain poor forever by getting opportunities to work and be productive members of society.

“We hope more 4P’s beneficiaries like us will also realize the same belief that awaken us to learn that there is no limit in life as long as we utilize all open opportunities that our government is offering to us like ALS of DepEd,” they happily said.

They both explained that while attending FDS, the DSWD also gives the beneficiaries an overview of ALS, a free education program implemented by the DepED which allows those who have not finished their schooling to continue studying in their own free time.

According to DSWD, they adopt the ALS for children-beneficiaries of 4P’s like the indigenous peoples who have no access to schools in their area.

It is also used in the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) for Homeless Street Families.

The 4P’s or CCT is a human development program of the that invests in the health and education of children 0-14 years old. It provides cash grants of as much as P1,400 to a family with three qualified children provided they comply with the program conditionalities.

The conditionalities set in the program in the health aspect orders pregnant women to avail of pre- and post-natal care and be attended by a trained health professional during childbirth.

It also requires the children of 4P’s who are 0-5 year-old to undergo regular preventive health check-ups and vaccines while the 6-14 year-old children should get deworming pills twice a year.

The program also requires that 3-5 year-old children to attend day care or pre-school classes at least 85 percent of the time.

In education aspect, the program requires that 6-14 year-old children must enroll in elementary or high-school and must attend at least 85 percent of the time.

Another important and beneficial requirement are parents must attend Family Development Sessions (FDS) where the beneficiaries are taught of proper handling of their family and children and opening their eyes to other productive opportunities that they can tap to improve their lives.

The program is a poverty reduction effort of the government that aims to improve the lives of indigent Filipino families in order to transform the poor from survival and subsistence level to self-reliance and empowerment.

According to DSWD Secretary Corazon J. Soliman, the program’s investment on health and education will be the key to allow the poor to rise-up from poverty and be self-sufficient individuals that can be partners of the government in nation building and development.

“We believe the program will allow the poor to break-away from the inter-generational cycle of poverty.” the DSWD chief added.