Alma D. Libres opened the windows of hope to Badjao out-of-school children, youth and adults through the Alternative Learning System (ALS) Program.
“I accepted the challenge to conduct ALS sessions to Badjaos when I met a member of their tribe with unwashed face and strange smell. Wearing dirty clothes, she tapped me, and begged. I asked if she has nothing to eat. But she replied that she begs because she has nothing to do,” relayed Libres.
The unforgettable incident tugged at her heartstrings. She resolved that the little girl needs education, so that she can change her mindset, and improve her life.
Libres strongly believes that education will give Badjaos better opportunities and subsequently keep them off the streets in the future. “I think there are people who look down on them because they think of them as illiterate minority, and education can set that issue right,” she shared.
She started teaching Badjaos in the area of personal hygiene and sanitation before teaching them the basic skills in reading, writing and arithmetic. She also immersed herself in their community, and learned Badjao words so that she can communicate with them effectively.
Through the help of Badjao elders and other stakeholders, she successfully delivered free education with life skills to Badjao learners.
“Teaching Badjaos whose families’ main concern is to bring food to the table was not a walk in the park. But with commitment and dedication, I have contributed to their education,” Libres stated.
Libres has been teaching Badjaos as an ALS mobile teacher since 2007. At present, there are 85 Badjao learners under her care at Barangay Bagua Mother Community Learning Center, Cotabato City.