migrants inside and outside hope

for two days this november, charito basa, aurora de dios, mai anonuevo and i attended a scalabrini conference on transnational migration. dr. marla asis invited us and the conference became a beehive for meeting old friends and making new friends. we met the mexican delegates and listened to an impassioned discourse on mexican migration to North America. the mexicans have 30 million migrants in the US and Canada and are the highest remittance senders in the world. we met researchers from the academe, government and non government organizations.

what did we learn ? my insights here are based on mind mapping exercises while listening to many speakers. these are my own cerebral production, what edward de bono call ‘random word’ creative games. i open this discussion to invite those who are working on development, governance and migration.

first ,we know why our people migrate overseas with our two eyes : maldevelopment that results in poverty, the “bulemic ” governance and “anorexic ” institutions that fail collectively to provide a sustainable  standard of life for the majority of our people ;

second, to solve poverty in our country and encourage altruism among our leaders, we need to walk on two legs – develop industrialization strategies for local economies and increase on education and health investment.  the buzzwords in the conference is whether we manage well the mobility of our skilled and talented citizens. they migrate  market for higher pay and better working conditions. there was no more debate in stopping the brain drain. the reform direction is to encourage the return of the talented and skilled migrants. but how do we get  scientists and entrepreneurs  to help ? ed says that we can do something wherever we are, whether we are inside and outside the country. ( thinking and paging mila m, marita v, vhangie j, baby c, patrick l, pat c. and all our kababayan overseas ).

third, to answer the question above, we need to engage the local multi-stake holders in economic planning and investment.  those who want to help their birth city or town, there are non-government organizations running social enterprises across the country. they have been successful in generating jobs for the poor : one is AlterTrade in Negros and its muscovado sugar exports that help sacada workers rise from hunger and become partners in the sugar trading sector; there is Atikha in San Pablo and Batangas which invests overseas remittances in coconut oil and coconut products to help migrant families earn from these products. there is Unlad Kabayan in Mindanao that invested in coconut decorticating machines to produce coconut husk-based products. there are initiatives in helping migrant families develop financial literacy and become entrepreneurs here and overseas.

fourth, invest in education for all (EFA) campaigns to get 11 million children learning by 2015 (MDG).we have around 20 million children in school and there are 11 million not in school. the solution is to install the alternative learning system (ALS) developed and tested by the Department of Education in various towns and cities where the drop-out rate is high. the filipino civil society organizations, here and abroad, can be partners in this strategy and produce the 150 modules that are learner-centered.this program is cost effective. for 25 learners the cost is P70,000 and is not dependent on more textbooks and more classrooms. the local government unit budget in education is rarely used in als. it is used to build classrooms or repair buildings. the basic alternative learning system can solve the high drop rate of our school age children ( at least half a million a year).

the second solution is installing the adult accelerated learning system.  get our farmers, fishers folks and indigenous communities learning functional skills to enable them to rise above poverty. these are the people who cannot migrate overseas because they have no  current tradeable skills. they cannot communicate nor negotiate for higher pay and better working conditions.

in the conference, the government is asking overseas filipinos to donate funds to build P200,000 per unit classroom . the EFA campaigners think we can use the money in ALS and enroll 75 learners (P70,000 x 3 classes of 25 learners each) every school year. Ayala Foundation reported that they raise $4 million year from US Filipinos and Americans. if one million dollars (P43 million pesos) can be invested annually in ALS with the local government and civil society as counterpart partners, we can hope to return eleven million children in school. this can raise the standard of education for 42,000 barangays because the children will learn. this is the promise of Education For All (young and old) advocacy. this is a solution for families who are inside and outside hope .  tangible hope for the rural migrants who leave villages because of poverty and cannot afford to become overseas Filipino workers (OFW).

finally, the investment in local industries will need more thinking and advocacy. we are convening a series of roundtable this month with the economists and development migration experts. we hope to provoke the altruistic members in the research and development circles. december is for honoring mary, joseph and jesus as migrants of hope. let us become the sheperds who join the holy couple. lets share the three gifts : good governance, compassionate citizenry and doables in local industrialization. that’s  our resolutions to a nation in need of compassion and imagination.

Explore posts in the same categories: Lifelong learning, Lucena Learning City

2 Comments on “migrants inside and outside hope”

  1. Mila Maramot Says:

    Hi Girlie.

    Is there ALS already installed and running in Mindoro? I’m curious to know more about it. You mentioned Dep Ed has tested it so there must be a track record proving it is effective. One of my community involvement activities includes working for the Oriental Mindoro Association of Southern California (OMASC). Education is one of the areas OMASC is passionate about. We have been sponsoring scholars and donating books and computers to schools in Mindoro. Maybe we can talk about this when I go home for a visit in April. Then I can talk to the OMASC leadership and see if this is something they may consider for future projects.

    PS. I’m so sorry about your friend’s husband. It must be really hard on your friend to lose him so suddenly and so violently. I wish you love and compassion enough to spread to people like her and to children like Angel and Angelica whose story just tears me up.


  2. mvillariba Says:

    thank you mila .will extend your love to mayang and family. have sent angel and angelica paper and crayons for their informal learning sessions. yes calapan and naujan have ALS and Ed will be happy to orient you when you come in April.

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