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National validators laud Surigao City efforts to promote functional literacy

In a recent visit of the National Literacy Validators in the city, where the city of Surigao was chosen as one of the Top 5 contenders for the Most Outstanding LGU for Component City throughout the country, the former undersecretary of Department of Education, Dr. Minda C. Sutaria, has lauded the aggressive actions of the city government of Surigao in its bid to promote functional literacy and slowly eliminate illiteracy in the city.

Sutaria in an interview recently said functional literacy has gone further and is now the solution to the problem of poverty.

Functional literacy is the ability of the person to, not only read, write and do simple arithmetical skills but be able to communicate as well.

Local government efforts in agriculture praised

Sutaria praised the local agriculture office in the city in pushing for Alternative Learning System (ALS) to the rice farmers to promote functional literacy. "We found out that you don't have such kiosk for rice, because it is very common in the many cities of the country and so we'd like to congratulate the city for that because you're doing very well and those who are doing well in agriculture are evincing a high level of functional literacy because they learned from experiments."

Sutaria was pretty amazed by the use of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) technology to the local farmers in Surigao wherein through the IPM Farmers Field School of the Department of Agriculture controlling of pests, diseases and weeds is now very easy. Several methods were being applied to the local farmers, one is through demonstrations and the use of IEC materials such as magazines and leaflets.

One of the suggestions however according to Sutaria is for these reading materials to be put in the reading centers because for those farmers who failed to attend the meetings/demonstrations they would just catch up by reading the materials.

Sutaria stressed that one should imbibed the idea that functional literacy is not just the ability to read, write and compute. "We're now pushing for functional literacy, and functional literacy requires that an individual can communicate effectively to all the problems scientifically and think critically and he can also use resources sustainably, this is very important because our natural resources are running out."

Dealing the differences of our Muslim brothers

Sutaria lauded the efforts of the local government in dealing the differences in one culture in the community. Sutaria made mention the Madrasah (Muslim) class in one of the schools in the city where a Christian community was able to sincerely help learn, grow and develop their Muslim brothers.

"In the past, they were neglected but here is a Christian community embracing a Muslim population, and really sincerely helping them, learn, grow and develop and I think that is the kind of unity that we should really find all over the country in order for us to really experience peace."

"With therefore, you see that functional literacy is not just reading, writing and computing it also means we should know how to take care of our environment and we should be able to expand our vision because the Philippines is largely globalize," she added.

Parolees fighting for Illiteracy

"I'm impressed," Sutaria said. "Before we came here, we read there reports, there are many things I wanted look for. In other words, whatever we saw here are not all embodied in the reports."

Sutaria was impressed with the initiative of the City Parole and Probation Office in giving hope to the probationers and parolees through the city's functional literacy program.

"I was inspired to say that one of the guys (parolee they've interviewed) in his story should really be not only repeated or perhaps even dramatized whatever or in other way as you in the media can do that very well to show how functional literacy really makes a man."

"Here was a man, who at least admitted he did wrong in the past and he thought that the world was black, dark for him. But here was a functional literacy program… so he learned how to read and write and there he saw light, no longer was the world black or dark for him, he saw light. And today he is at least economically well-off."

She then urged the parolee to tell his story and share it many times, for "it is one way by which we can convince people that to be functionally literate you have conserve a better lives." (Fryan E. Abkilan, PIA-Surigao del Norte)

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