by EVELYN A. PANGILINAN, Ph.D.
School Principal IV
The challenges brought by the pandemic to the schools, home, and community cannot be undermined. People experienced stress of all kinds: mental, emotional, psychological, social, and most of all, economic, at different degrees and levels.
School activities were suspended for months. Despite the fear and doubts, life must continue. Education should not stop. The schools in the new normal must stand up and bring out the best in this situation. In this regard, Niyugan Elementary School, SDO-Jaen South Annex, Division of Nueva Ecija, Region III, took the initiative to find ways to support the school personnel, teachers, learners, and parents to cope up with the stressful effects of the pandemic, and accept the challenges of the new normal through the project entitled “3P’s (Pause, Pose, Post) for A Cause”: School GPP/SIGA Revival and Home Gardening in the New Normal, with the Theme: Tanggapin Ang Hamon Ng Bagong Panahon; Tayo Na, Mag-Gulayan Sa Ating Paaralan At Tahanan.
The project aims to:
- Identify concrete and specific activities to help school personnel, teachers, learners and parents lessen the stressful effects of the current situation;
- Launch program that will be participated in by internal and external stakeholders to bring back the bliss of the school despite the pandemic;
- Utilize available resources and practice 5R’s (Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle) both in school and at home;
- Solicit funds to provide assistance to N.E.S. learners and parents with chronic diseases and those with no devices ; and
- Conduct research study on the effects and importance of the project: 3P’s for a Cause.
3P’s for A Cause was conceived in January 2021 and launched on February 17. Present in the launching were the SDO Jaen South Annex Public Schools District Supervisor, in the person of Dr. Arnold D. De Castro who was the inspiration for this program, together with the school heads, GPTA Officers, Barangay Council, SK Officers, Alumni Association Representative Jolly Friends Group, USA representative, Niyugan Elementary School personnel and staff, and other volunteers.
Team EPP (Edukasyong Pantahanan at Pangkabuhan) spearheaded the conduct of online and offline meetings using various platforms for the project planning and implementation, information dissemination, and conferences with the Parent Teacher Association, Alumni Association, Barangay Officials or Workers and other private individuals for possible support, in kind, cash or services.
For the implementation, at least 30-minute gardening activities in school are being conducted between 8:00 and 9:00 in the morning; two to three times a week based on the alternative work arrangement of the teachers.
This is to give them time to breathe fresh air, cultivate plants and enjoy gardening, as a way to relieve stress. Thus, the project served as a form of MHPSS (Mental Health and Psycho-Social Support) activities for the school personnel, parents and learners.
The teachers and volunteers started the revival of Gulayan sa Paaralan and SIGA the following week. For the Gulayan sa Paaralan, the sum of fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00) as grant from the GPP fund for SDO Nueva Ecija was utilized to purchase garden tools including wheelbarrows, grass cutter, and other hand tools, as well as construction of permanent trellises made out of steel tubes or pipes, fruit trees and vegetable seedlings, and other incidental expenses.
For the Gulayan Sa Tahanan, learners, together with their parents or guardians, do the same at home. They allotted time for gardening activities which are regularly monitored by their teachers. They were encouraged to plant vegetables and even ornamental plants in their own backyards. If there are limited space for planting, urban gardening was applied. Instead of providing seedlings for them, some of the parents even donated seedlings for the school. They regularly submit documentations of the activities from preparation of garden plots, to planting, watering, and taking care of the plants up to harvesting.
“Learners’ creativity was also enhanced through project-making using waste materials at home, thus, practicing the 5R’s.
Produce in the school gardens were used for School Based Feeding Program, Community Pantry, and relief for families under lockdown, while those at the learners’ homes were either consumed by their own family where some even sold to their neighbors that generated and gave some sort of income.
As for the revitalization of the SIGA or School Inside A Garden, the volunteers used school scraps and reusable materials, plants in the school premises, potted plants donated by parents, learners’ projects from the previous years, rocks and stones, used tires, left-over paints and the initial donations during the launching amounting to two thousand six hundred pesos were utilized. Their resourcefulness and creativity lead to the creation of the ‘Beauty Spots’ sited in the once barren areas.
These spots were used to gain reactions from potential donors who cannot visit the school physically and even for those who can.
Utilizing the “Beauty Spots”, donations were acquired in two ways:
First, by reacting to the pictures posted in the face book page of the school where there is a corresponding amount for each type of reaction and ending donations through the school’s treasurer.
Another is by visiting the school physically on scheduled date and time for the opportunity to pause, pose and post pictures by themselves in the different beauty spots and vegetable gardens in the school. Physical visit is allowed only for residents of the barangay and nearby ones.
As of July 15, 2021, a total donation of two hundred two thousand six hundred twenty pesos (P 202,620.00) was raised, 75% of which come from the Alumni Association. Such was used to fund the following:
- Medical aid for learners and parents with chronic illnesses amounting to P20,000.00, given on March 13, 2021
- 10 Cellphone units for the selected learners with a total amount of P15,000.00, distributed in March 2021
- Communication or internet connectivity allowance for teachers for the conduct of online monitoring and classes which amounts to P20,000.00 for the months of April to June, 2021
- Rehabilitation of school fence at the back of the school, temporary, amounting to P10,000.00 in April 2021
- Allotted P 5,000.00 for garden supplies from May to present
- Construction of school label in the front fence totaling to P65,000.00 in July 2021; and
- P 67,620.00 Cash on Bank, which is allotted for the proposed construction of concrete fence at the back side of the school and installation of radio station.
The project is being monitored and evaluated regularly. Periodic reporting of proceeds and activities to the stakeholders and supporters are being conducted for transparency and feedback.
So, in this time of uncertainties, let us all:
PAUSE… Stop for a while. Breathe in fresh air and enjoy the moment,
POSE… Give your best shot. Show the most beautiful you in every situation, then
POST… So as to radiate positive energies. Encourage the world that life must continue. And that, we can do better together…
“A simple, usual and ordinary activity, coupled with creativity, love, care, and positivity, that is, Niyugan Elementary School’s 3P’s For A Cause. #DM