MANILA, Philippines - CNN hero of the year Efren Peñaflorida’s “pushcart classroom,” which provides free education to out-of-school youth, has come a long way.
A new two-story school building donated by the Universal Robina Corp. (URC) to Peñaflorida’s Dynamic Teen Co. (DTC) was formally opened to the public on Thursday.
The bright red learning center in Cavite City serves as a learning facility for grades seven to nine, ages 11 to 17.
“Many of them are out-of-school youth and street children that we have encouraged to study again,” Peñaflorida said in Filipino.
The new school building, he said, is far cry from what they used to have. Compared to teaching though pushcart classrooms, his students now have their own real classrooms with sturdy walls freshly painted and a roof protecting them from sun and rain.
URC also equipped the building with air-conditioned office, clean toilets, white boards, books and shelves. Students also have their own desks.
All these, Peñaflorida added, further enticed out-of-school youths to hit the books again.
Students are taught the EnSCiMaVa curriculum, which stands for English, Science, Math and Values.
“It is important to teach values to the youth. We want to include the character and values, not just the skills,” Peñaflorida noted.
He also said DTC students have increased to 62 this year. But while DTC is proud of this achievement, economic realities still prevail.
He admitted that DTC is still dependent on donations and grants.
But Nilo Mapa Jr., executive vice president and managing director of URC, said “granting free education to out of school youth is a truly admirable endeavor, one that we are quite proud to support.”
Peñaflorida’s mentor Harnin Manalaysay echoed the CNN hero and expressed gratitude to the URC.
“We are very grateful to them (URC). We also hope that more children would benefit from this example of kindness,” Manalaysay said.