The Adopt-a-School Project in Rissing Elementary School (2008-2012)

In the year 2008, the Rissing Elementary School is everything a public school shouldn’t be – underequipped, underfunded and unmaintained. Before the Ylenia Foundation, CO-OPERAID and HBI started their four year Adopt-a-School Project, the school had limited to no facilities: five school buildings in need of major repairs (one of which was condemned and infested with snakes); insufficient number of classrooms for the schooling children; no working water system; no sanitary toilets; no canteen; no clinic; no library; no computers, and a severe lack of textbooks and classroom materials & equipments that affect the children’s education.

When the Ylenia Foundation, CO-OPERAID and HBI began their adopt-a-school project in the Rissing Elementary School on 2008, they all knew that it will take a lot of time and resources (both material and technical) for all the needs of the school, its students and their families to be implemented and put in place. With so many problems hounding the school, it was quite a challenge to figure out where to start improvements and how to implement them.

But after four years of implementing the project, the Rissing Elementary School of the year 2012 is now the public school other schools in the La Union province aspire to be: a school with complete sets of instructional materials for their students; a well-equipped school with a classroom for each grade level and with a working school water system, library, canteen, and toilets; a school that provides additional services like tutorial classes, drum and lyre skills and computer classes to their students; a school with an active Parents and Teachers Association; a school that is home to students who are consistent high scorers in aptitude tests and academic meets; and most important of all, a school that students enjoy being in. The students go to school daily with all their school needs taken care of and their parents continue to strive harder to expand the livelihood support provided by the Adopt-a-School Project. On the other hand, the teachers continue to give their very best efforts in teaching their students and helping them become productive Filipino citizens.

In summation, if not for the valuable support of foreign implementing partner, CO-OPERAID Switzerland, and more importantly the project’s funding partner, the Ylenia Foundation, HBI and the Rissing Elementary School’s teachers, parents and students would not have gotten the chance to accomplish any of the steps of the adopt-a-school project. The project may have only lasted for four years but the improvements and the changes in the school, and in the lives of the students and their families will last for many years to come.  It has to be said that indeed, something good can come out from something terrible. The untimely passing of young Ylenia Lenhard led to the creation of the Ylenia Foundation which quickly worked on providing the Rissing Elementary School, Bangar, La Union with needed school support and the Rissing parents with the means to improve their capacity to earn more income – all these for the benefit of the Rissing Elementary School children who, after 4 years of being aided by the project, now have a chance at brighter futures.

The table on this gallery will show the various program statistics of the HBI, CO-OPERAID Switzerland and Ylenia Foundation’s Adopt-a-School Project implemented in the Rissing Elementary School from September 2008 to August 2012.

The following are the major outcomes and effects of the implemented Adopt-a-School Project in Rissing Elementary School:

  • Children are now more excited to go to their daily school classes – According to the Rissing Elementary School teachers, before the implementation of the Adopt-a-School Project in their school, there are many instances of children unenthusiastically going to school or children who just go to school for the attendance record. Oftentimes, these children do not listen to class discussions and cannot answer questions during exams and recitations. Since the students were provided with complete school needs, they have no excuse to be absent from school or to not actively participate in class.
  • Children accomplish assignments/homeworks and projects on time – Before, the students do not do all their assignments and projects because they are saving their notebooks and pad papers for more important quizzes and major projects. Now that they have the right amount of school supplies at their disposal, the children need not save papers or notebook pages.
  • Children find it easier to learn which resulted to increased grades- Before, children have to use a single notebook for 3-4 subject notes and seat works. They had to pick which notes to take down so that they could accommodate notes from other teachers and subjects. Now that they have complete sets of notebooks, they are able to take down all notes and study them for quizzes and exams.
  • Children are now more participative in class discussions and extra-curricular activities – Because children are able to take down complete notes and study them, they have become more participative in class discussions according to their teachers. Extra-curricular classroom activities like computer classes are also filled with new student-participants because they need not worry about getting new notebooks or supplies for these extra classes.
  • Children incurred fewer absences – According to the Rissing Elementary School teachers, before the provision of direct school support, children often incur absences of at least 6 school days a month. After the provision of supplies, the average absent rate is at 2 absents per month.
  • Incidents of bullying and fighting among children were lessened – In rural public schools like the Rissing Elementary School, children get bullied mainly either because they are too poor and have no school supplies, or they have the means to buy more school supplies compared to their classmates. Because the children were provided with equal number of supplies, uniforms, slippers and other school needs, the schooling children have no reason to pick on or bully another student because they have the same number of supplies.
  • School Pride is now higher – According to teachers, because of the improvements in the performance of the Rissing Elementary School students and the school’s reputation, teachers have reported that school pride is high and former graduates who are now working overseas are giving more donations for the school. Part of the donations was used for the project that improved the school’s entrance and quad.
  • Through the provided instructional and teaching materials to the school, teachers were able to update their lesson plans and integrate new and updated learning materials to their daily teachings thus improving the school’s teaching practices,
  • New school materials and equipments provided the Rissing Elementary School with the opportunity to provide more academic services like enrichment classes and computer classes to interested students.
  • Through the various school infrastructure works in the Rissing Elementary School, the local Department of Education heralded them as one of the most improved public elementary schools in Bangar, La Union. As a result, the school’s reputation in the local Department of Education has improved which in turn positively affects the school’s current and future requests for repair funds or trainings from the Department of Education.
  • With additional functional school buildings created and/or repaired, the Rissing Elementary School now have the means to improve their extra-curricular activities by reviving shelved student club activities such as the sports club, student gardening club, cooking club, glee club, drum and lyre band, and booklovers club.
  • The school’s additional facilities and equipments made teaching better and more efficient resulting to producing better students who are performing better in class, in diagnostic tests and aptitude exams.
  • The provided school support improved the reputation of the Rissing Elementary School from a lowly public elementary school ranked 15th out of 16 schools  into one of the best public elementary schools in the Bangar, La Union region ranked 2nd out 16 schools.
  • The provided school support, specifically the school’s Materials Recovery Facility, spread awareness on recycling and garbage segregation amongst the students and teaches resulting to a cleaner and better school.
  • Existing records of the Rissing Elementary School Malnourished and Undernourished students will help future feeding programs in the school (that could be funded by the Department of Education) in the sense that the school already identified those who need supplemental meals and those who do not need them, thus lessening the risk of double and/or moot implementation.
  • Through the feeding program, children and parents became more aware as to the right height and weight of properly-nourished children. Due to this knowledge, the parents can easily determine if their child is undernourished or malnourished.
  • Through the feeding program, a group of volunteer mothers became a united health committee that not only implemented the project by preparing the children’s meals but also monitored the children’s height and weight and provided advise on meal preparation to the participants’ parents
  • Through the feeding program, the teachers and canteen personnel of the Rissing Elementary School developed ways of preparing nutritious food that are both affordable and delicious. Once HBI, CO-OPERAID and Ylenia Foundation leaves the project area, the school’s canteen will still be able to prepare the nutritious, delicious and affordable meals to the children enrolled in the school.
  • Through the school-based medical and dental check-ups, the Rissing Elementary School was able to create valuable linkages with other groups like the Department of Health Medical Office, the local Red Cross and various municipal nurses and health workers. These linkages can be tapped by the school for needed medical and dental check-ups even after HBI, CO-OPERAID and the Ylenia Foundation leave the project area at the end of project implementation.
  • Through the school-based medical and dental check-ups, the Rissing Elementary School teachers, specifically the teachers who serve in the school clinic, became aware as to who among the children have current illnesses and in need of continued guidance while in school. The result is that the children’s health was monitored not only by their parents but also by their teachers and needed medicines and medical attention were requested from HBI or purchased by their parents.
  • Through the provision of contraceptives to Rissing mothers, HBI became aware that the Rissing Community’s Community Health Office already advocates and spreads awareness on Family Planning Methods and Responsible Parenting- hence there is no need for HBI to implement these seminars to the Rissing Elementary School parents and families. The need to provide the appropriate supplies for the parents’ chosen family-planning methods was answered by HBI through the said provisions as advised by the HBI Area Leaders.
  • Through the various seminars on proper nutrition and food preparation, empowered parents and families were made aware of different cooking and preparation methods that will yield more nutritious meals for their children at affordable costs. In other words, the seminars broke the notion and common belief of the parents that meals need to be expensive just so they can be nutritious and healthy for children. With this knowledge at hand, family budgeting improved since empowered parents are implementing seminar teachings in their daily lives.
  • Through the health seminars for the feeding program, a volunteer group of mothers was organized and empowered. These volunteer mothers not only function in the school but in the local community health center as nutrition volunteers. The increased number of capable and knowledgeable volunteers thereby improved the services provided by the health center to the community members.
  • Through the seminars and workshops on Children’s Rights, the Rissing Elementary School was able to properly implement a Child’s Rights Awareness class that is taught at all grade levels in the school. The school was also able to reach out to the children’s parents through providing child’s rights awareness meetings during their monthly meetings with the parents.
  • The mechanics, scheduling and modules used for HBI Enrichment Classes and HBI Computer Class cum Values Formation in the Rissing Elementary School continue to be used by the school’s teachers in their on-going tutorial sessions and computer classes with their students.
  • Through the seminars on first aid, both parents and teachers have become aware of how to treat wounds, gashes and bruises sustained by children during their time in school and when they are home.
  • Leadership trainings, business management seminars, and team building seminars solidified and empowered the organized HBI Area Leaders and these positively affected their implementation and monitoring of livelihood projects in the sense that all records are properly kept and monitoring visits are properly scheduled and conducted as planned and scheduled.
  • Seminars on Zero Waste Management positively affected the school’s outlook in recycling and they now value it more compared to before because they now know that recycling and garbage segregation is easy and could yield additional income for the school while at the same time keeping the school clean and helping the environment.
  • The enhancement of the Rissing beneficiaries’ knowledge on organic vegetable gardening made the parents and school personnels realize that organic gardening is easy to implement; produces healthier crops and is cheaper to maintain/implement compared to vegetable gardening with fertilizers. Not only are there healthier vegetables at hand for the school and family-beneficiaries, a more environmentally-friendly way of gardening which does not contribute to soil pollution was introduced and continues to be practiced in the community.
  • The seminar on haircutting, manicure and pedicure provided mothers and out-of-school youths with additional life skills that they can use to earn additional income for their families.
  • Through the Rice Bank Project implemented in the Rissing school and community, both beneficiaries and interested community members were made aware that there are other sources of rice grains apart from local rice retailers/loaners who imposes higher interest rates. The 113 family-beneficiaries of the Rice Bank Project have now stopped loaning from local rice retailers/loaners since a more affordable community rice bank project was implemented.
  • Through the Rice Bank Project, poor local farmers were provided with an additional means of selling their rice grains which not only yields income for them but also helps their community’s Rice Bank.
  • Because of the “group-based” mechanics of the Rice Bank Project (e.g. if all rice bank project loans are paid on time with the right interests, there would be more rice grains that could be loaned to other families), the 113 current rice bank beneficiaries/loanees are more pressured to pay their rice grain loans on time and with interest since they know that other families in-need can benefit from their timely payment and that these other families know that additional loanees would only be possible if interests are paid on time.
  • Through the Rice Bank Project, the Rissing Elementary School and Community were made aware that technical support for rice grain storage and planting is on-hand at the Municipal Agriculture Office
  • Through the Livestock Raising Project, beneficiaries were made aware that technical and veterinary services can be availed in their local veterinarian’s office and that livelihood income can be used to get medicines for ailing livestock supplies.
  • Because of the “group-based” mechanics of the Livestock Raising Project (e.g. more families can join the project once a goat or hog bear kids/piglets), the 49 current livestock raising beneficiaries/loanees are more responsible in taking care of their livestock since all possible beneficiaries (waitlisted beneficiaries) are aware of the project’s mechanics.

On the other hand, the measurements of program success are as follows:

a.      Education

  • A total of 220 children were supported by the Educational assistance project in the four years of the Adopt-a-School Project’s implementation. All of these children received school supplies (1,425 sets provided), school slippers (985 pairs provided), school shoes (220 pairs provided), school uniforms (1,144 sets), school bags (776 school bags), rain gear (588 raincoats and umbrellas), towels and handkerchiefs (184 pieces provided).
    • Among the 220 children provided with support, none had to repeat a grade level or failed to graduate on time.
    • According to the children’s report cards provided by the school’s teachers, the average final grade of the students from Grades 1-6 is 87% (86.75%) in the June 2011 – March 2012 school year. This is an increase from the average students’ grade of 81% (81.3%) during the June 2007 – March 2008 school year.  In the four years of the project, a 6-point grade increase was seen among the students.
    • With regards to attendance, the school teachers recorded that for the June 2011 – March 2012 school year, an average of two (2) absences per month was recorded per grade level. The reasons for absences are usually minor illnesses like colds and family/personal reasons. Prior to this, the average number of absences amongst students was six (6) in the 2007-2008 period.
    • 120 Enrichment class participants all finished their tutorial sessions according to enrichment class records. All participants were promoted to their respective grade levels and none had to attend another enrichment class session after completing the 6-month tutorial classes.
    • Enrichment class graduates exhibited a grade increase of at least two (2) points after completing the tutorial classes. According to the teachers of the enrichment classes, the children-participants’ average lowest grade in their school subjects is 78% out of 100% with the highest average grade at 85.4%. None of the children failed in their subjects.
    • The Rissing Elementary School won numerous awards during municipal competitions where all public elementary schools compete. The children win in sports competitions, computer contests, academic contests and music contests.

 b.      School Support/Assistance Projects

  • The Rissing Elementary School gained three (3) additional classrooms, a canteen, a library, a repaired and working water system and a Natural Water Filtration System. In addition to this, the school also received a new playground and a productive organic garden. Through the efforts of CO-OPERAID Switzerland, the school was also provided with a covered court and stage that they can use during school activities like graduations and school-community meetings. Lastly, school materials and equipments like books, reference materials, library equipments, musical instruments and sports equipments were provided to the school.
    • The school’s ranking among the 16 public elementary schools in  Bangar, La Union improved from 15th out 16 in both primary (Grade 1 – Grade 3 education) and intermediate (Grade 4 – Grade 6 education) levels in 2007-2008, to 2nd in intermediate level and 1st in the primary level in 2011-2012.
    • Since the repair of the school’s water system and the creation of the Natural Water Filtration in the school, there have been no reports of children acquiring water-borne diseases according to both teachers and parents.
    • The Rissing Elementary School has new services apart from educational services for the students. These new services include enrichment classes, computer classes, drum and lyre group, glee club, gardening club, sports, library services, canteen services and clinic services. Prior to the implementation of the Adopt-a-School Project in the school, these nine (9) services were not consistently provided by the school to its students.
    • All classes for all grade levels have improved lessons plans that give more focus on the active-participation of students.
    • The ratio of books to students as of 2011-2012 is 1 book: 1 student compared to the ratio in 2007-2008: 1 book: 4 students.
    • The Rissing Elementary School’s library with computers has an average of 70 students who are weekly library users. This 2011-2012 record is an increase from the 50 average users in 2010-2011 and from the baseline data of 0 since the school didn’t have a library in 2007-2008.
    • The Rissing Elementary School’s canteen has an average of 180 students who weekly purchase food and snacks. This 2011-2012 record is an increase from the 147 average students in 2010-2011 and from the baseline data of 0 since the school didn’t have a canteen in 2007-2008.
    • The Rissing Elementary School has nine (9) working toilets in 2011-2012. In 2007-2008, the school only had three (3) working toilets.

c.       Health, Nutrition and Medical Care

  • For every year of the Adopt-a-School Project in the Rissing Elementary School, a 6-month supplemental feeding program with de-worming and provision of vitamins was implemented. In total 273 children benefitted from the feeding program. All students were also provided with health kits (772 total health kit sets given) and multi-vitamins. Three school-based medical and dental check-ups were implemented and 25 mothers were provided with contraceptive pills.
    • The malnourishment rate is down to 10% as of July 2012 compared to the 58% malnourishment rate recorded in July 2008. It is important to note that the 10% or 22 malnourished children are all new students who have not participated in the supplemental feeding program implemented by HBI and the Ylenia Foundation.
    • The supplemental feeding program has a 100% success rate in Rissing Elementary School in the sense that all feeding program beneficiaries have gained their proper weight proportional to their heights and ages after benefitting from the supplemental meals provided.
    • Among mothers provided with contraceptive pills, none got pregnant during the 10-month duration of supply provision. The reason for this is because the mothers both have the needed contraceptive supplies that can help them practice their chosen family planning method.
    • According to records during medical and dental check-ups, only 20% of the program beneficiaries needed additional medical attention after the implementation of the check-ups and provision of needed medicines. All those in need of additional medical support were provided with recommendations by HBI so as they can avail of more affordable medical services from hospitals and clinics.
    • None of the Rissing Elementary School children are suffering from intestinal worms in 2011-2012 giving the Deworming Program of the Supplemental Feeding Program a 100% success rate.

d.      Capacity Building and Livelihood

  • For the duration of the Adopt-a-School Project, there have been a total of 14 capacity building programs implemented for parents, teachers and schooling children. 11 of the 14 capacity building programs are geared towards either preparing the school and teachers in implementing, monitoring and sustaining the various Adopt-a-School programs that would be under their care once HBI, the Ylenia Foundation and CO-OPERAID.
    • Now that the Adopt-a-School Project has concluded, there are 40 teachers and area leaders (7 teachers and 33 area leaders) who are continuously implementing and monitoring the projects left to their care. This was more than the expected number of 30 teachers and area leaders who will be in charge of implementing and monitoring the projects.
    •  220 children are currently benefitting from a child’s rights awareness subject integrated in their school’s curriculum through various seminars and workshops about children’s rights implemented for their teachers and their parents.
    • There are no reported children’s rights cases in the Rissing Elementary School from 2008 to 2012.
    • Among the 30 participants of the haircutting, manicure and pedicure, all 30 participants are practicing what they learned in their daily lives – be it for personal reasons or for financial reasons.
  • On the other hand, the major livelihood activities implemented by the Adopt-a-School Project for the Rissing Elementary School parents are the Livestock Raising Project (189 goats and hogs for 49 families) and the Rice Bank Project (13,020 kilos of rice grains for 113 families). Other livelihood projects started are the Organic Home Gardening Project (30 families) and the provision of haircutting, manicure and pedicure tools to seminars participants (30 participants).
    • An increase of 159 livestock supply from the initial supply of 30 livestock supply, with the project now having a total of 189 livestock supply (34 goats and 155 hogs).
    • An increase of 19 families benefitting from the livestock supply project from the initial 30 family-beneficiaries.
    • Existence of a school-community fund totaling Php 31,063 as of July 2012 coming from the contributions of family-beneficiaries who sold some of their livestock supply and the direct selling of project officers of livestock supply who are not bearing any kids or hogs.
    • An increase of Php 1,000 income among the beneficiaries of the livestock raising project as they can easily sell livestock supplies when the family faces a financial need
    • 34 Rissing families who currently have working organic gardens that produces vegetables that can be consumed by all family-members
    • 100% repayment rate of Rice Bank loans as of August 2012. The first batch of rice grain loans was a total of 4,200 kilos for 60 initial family-beneficiaries. Each family loaned 70 kilos of rice grains and paid on time with 10% interest (or 7 kilos of rice grains).
    • 420 kilos of rice grain interests culled from the first cycle of rice grain loans of the Rice Bank Project represents the 7 kilos of rice grains paid by the 60 initial Rice Bank beneficiaries. The 420 kilos of rice grains amount to 8,400 pesos (one kilo of rice grains = Php 20).
    • A decrease of 113 Rissing families who depend on loan sharks for rice grain loans during lean farming months thereby weakening the unfair practices of loan sharks who ask for at least a 50% loan interest
    • 115 kilos of rice grains now provided to 113 Rissing Families after the provision of an additional 8,400 kilos of rice grains for their Rice Bank – 45 kilos more than the initial 70 kilos provided per family.
    • 14,319.5 kilos of expected rice grains to be stored in the Rissing Rice Bank by December 2012 – January 2013 if a 100% repayment rate is achieved again.