Millions of students around the Philippines have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. With online school now the “new normal,” the vast majority of Filipino youths who do not come from privileged families are scrambling to find means to purchase electronic devices just to get their education. There are reports of kids selling their books, parents selling their chickens, and other sad accounts of families doing their best to get by.
While the Department of Education is setting up its television network for media-fied education and schools are printing handouts as fast as they can, the reality is not every child can afford to buy laptops, tablets, or phones to keep up with distance learning. Not every child comes from a middle-class home or a two-income household.
How can a tricycle drive purchase a laptop for his four children to learn online? How can the sari-sari store owner buy a phone for his senior high kids? The pandemic is transforming education into a privilege, one that many children cannot afford.
But there is a way to help. LGUs are launching efforts to equip students with the technology they need, and the Office of the Vice President has also started its own initiative to connect students to hand-me-down gadgets. Some schools, like theÂDe La Salle University - Dasmarinas,Âare also giving out free pocket WiFi to its incoming freshman.
And in cyberspace, kindhearted Samaritans are gathering on Facebook to donate what they can to students who need funds. Ayuda Pang EskwelaÂis one such platform, a private Facebook group that carefully curates its posts so donations can take place in an organized manner.
A parent or a child can request to post in the group, and the admin will verify the post before it’s made public. Then the 5,500 members of the group can send their donations to the account numbers published on the post.
The group has provided assistance to around 248 students so far, and has raised more than P1 million pesos in crowdsourced donations.
Scrolling through the group, it’s both heartbreaking and touching to see how many students need help—and how much help is being freely given. Two hundred and forty-eight students have been able to purchase laptops, tablets, and phones to get them through the school year thanks to the generosity and compassion of netizens. You’ll read stories about single mothers, children with disabilities, and kids that were about to drop out of school before they found the group. It’s stories like this that personalize and humanize the struggles of this pandemic. The millions of students affected by the lockdown are no longer just numbers and statistics reported in every IATF meeting. They now have a face and a story, whether it’s the young girl enrolled in an agricultural school in Nueva Ecija or the young boy from Metro Manila whose parents are now both unemployed.
We won’t share any of the posts in this article in consideration to the parents and children that might be exposed. You’ll just have to request to join the group and make your own donation to do your part for the education of the Filipino youth.
Note: A number of other copycat groups have popped up on Facebook with the same name and photos. This link leads to the real group, which is private and curated. To avoid scams, please only follow the group linked above. Anything else is fake and a scam.
Also: Anyone trying to scam kids or benefit off of struggling kids should read this article right here.
This story originally appeared on Esquiremag.ph.
* Minor edits have been made by the Candymag.com editors.