Education In Rural Ilocandia

“Kasla ngay adayokami iti civilization—nagrigat!”

battawangWhen Junifer Pecha, 25, got his call from DepEd to become a teacher, he knew it, he will go to one of the remotest area of Cervantes District.

His first assignment, Dinwede Elementary School.

Together with first timer teachers, Miss Adeline Gumpit and Miss Maricel Dumal-i of Comillas South and Aluling, respectively, they will teach the kids of Dinwede West, Cervantes Ilocos Sur.
“We, the newest ‘in’ of DepEd, were deployed in farthest area. Usually, this is our first assignment.”

Dinwede Elementary School is one of the farthest area of Cervantes, it is located at sitio Battawang, where climate is close to Baguio City temperature, and no means of transportation can be used except this three words—walking, hiking, and crossing bridge.

Anyone can reached Battawang—a ride from national highway of Tagudin, Ilocos Sur until you reach Butac, Suyo, Ilocos Sur. From here, if its not rainy season, you can have a jeepney ride until you reached the Pas-adan. From here, you’ll have to cross hanging bridge—the first of seven hanging bridge to Battawang. And after that, a walk to mountain pathway from 3 to 4 hours. If it’s rainy season? 8 hours of walking.

The school caters the children from 11 sitios of Dinwede West; Battawang, Pas-adan, Macbas, Ili, Mabilbilabil, Maslong, Ayeng-eng, Tacba, Pangaan, Sayangan and Cayapa. The farthest is Cayapa where these pupil need to walk less than an hour.

Last school year, the school has 71 students from grade 1 to 6. It has also 25 pre-schoolers.

3 Teachers, 3 Classrooms Only

Because of distance and location, Dinwede ES has only 3 teachers and 3 classrooms to cater these students.
So, how do they do it?

According to Junifer, each of the teachers has two grades to teach in one classroom. For instance, Junifer has to teach grade 3 and 4 in one classroom. For example—English, while having an activity in grade 3, he is discussing subject matter to grade 4.

When asked why they’re doing this, he said this was already the practice. Besides, the students are few, thus, easy to handle.

The school building seems to be forgotten already by the concerned sector, never been painted and rusty-look. Comparing to schools in lowland, it is far for comparison. Though, there’s the needed chalk and manila paper for teaching, but some visual aids and other school paraphernalias.

There are books given to them, but limited. Not all subjects can be provided with much needed books. For example, a complete book can be provided… but only for one subject.

Teachers Diary
Junifer is hoping that someday, a teacher from Battawang will graduate and serve here. In this case, they can assure of a long-term service of teaching for these kids.

But unlike them, who also hail from Cervantes, they will not need to walk the mountainous area of Dinwede.

For Junifer, who hails from Zigzag Cervantes, he needs to walk 3 to 4 hours to reach this school. He walked from Zigzag and up through Bessang and Biwak, Mayapyap, then go down to Maslong, Pas-adan then Battawang.
Of course, he wouldn’t do it everyday. He should stay at Battawang for the rest of the month including Saturdays and Sundays.

There are exceptions of his boarding, as head teacher, he need to attend some meetings of their schools district. And his two co-teacher, at least once a month—to get their paycheck.

When asked what is the hardest way of becoming teacher in remote area. He answer– not the distance, but the media and electricity. He said this hampers their civilization. They’re too far to civilization—and it makes hard for their living.

People here depend only on farming. They have this little rice terraces—like of that Banaue rice terraces. But not enough for them because the mountain is rocky, so they need to plant kamote. And others learned how to make soft-broom. They are industrious, but these kids need education. They must go to school, study and get a diploma, and returned here, serve this community.

Education is the key for their progress.

And they need us…

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