TFC News

SF-based Filipino education program marks 10 years of inspiring youth

Rommel Conclara | TFC News San Francisco

Posted at Dec 15 2022 09:02 AM

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The Filipino World Languages in Elementary School program, more commonly known as Filipino WLES, celebrated its 10th anniversary.

The party was held at Longfellow Elementary School in San Francisco where the educational program, which includes an ethnic studies curriculum focused on Filipino language and culture, is implemented.

"It's a curriculum designed by teachers for teachers and it's something we fought for," teacher Joanna Maderazo noted.

Last summer, the program faced cuts and an enrollment cap in kindergarten and first-grade classes. Teachers and parents say capping class sizes would destroy enrollment and eliminate the program.

After mobilizing a network of community members that included an online campaign, and speaking at a hearing before the San Francisco Board of Education, the cap was lifted to allow 22 students to be enrolled in each kindergarten and first-grade classes.

"Just what we did during those two weeks during the summer, it was magnanimous because the teachers came together even during their summer break and they were talking about how we can run this campaign as one as opposed to just being teacher-led or student-led. It was really parents, students, teachers, community," parent Nikki Santiago said.

Fil-Am students say they are proud to be part of the program.

"I learned a lot about my history and culture from all the after-school programs and from WLES," Longfellow Elementary alumnus Matthew James Mingoa shared.

The Filipino WLES program is also available at the Bessie Carmichael Elementary School located within the SOMA Pilipinas cultural district.