Posted on 22 November 2011.
The Don Salustiano Aquino Memorial National High School in its relentless aim to reduce dropout rates, improve learning outcomes, and provide quality education accessible to all, is again offering the Open High School Program (OHSP) to learners who desire to finish high school outside the formal school structure.
The OHSP is one of the major components of the Dropout Reduction Program (DORP) of the Department of Education. It is an alternative mode of secondary education to address school dropout issues and cater to learners who are unable to attend the regular class program due to physical impairment, work, financial difficulties, distance of home to school, and other legitimate reasons.
The DSAMNHS is one of the few secondary schools in the Division of Ilocos Norte which are offering OHSP.
The OHSP as a DORP intervention aims to provide opportunity to all high school dropouts to complete secondary education, prevent potential school leavers from dropping out and encourages those who are out of school to finish secondary education, reduce high school dropouts and increase participation rate, and increase achievement rate through quality distance education.
Realizing that the program could be a good answer to curb the yearly decreasing participation rate of the school due to the many constraints faced by students in their family, community and other school related problems, Mrs. Rizalina T. Manzano, principal, together with the school DORP team, decided to make the necessary preparations and appropriate actions to implement the program last school year.
Thus, after the attendance of the S-DORP team in the division orientation on the proper implementation of the program, they were set to adopt the Open High School Program.
They, therefore, did the following: submitted a Letter of Intent (LOI) addressed to the Schools Division Superintendent to open OHSP with copies furnished to the Regional Office and the Director of the Bureau of Secondary Education; underwent a capacity training; made available learning facilities and equipment in the school; and informed the parents and the local government about the program. Thus, an information campaign was made during the Brigada Eskwela Plus in May to inform interested learners.
Through the approval of Dr. Cecilia Pacis-Aribuabo, schools division superintendent; Education Program Supervisor Dr. Jurlita U. Basuel, division DORP coordinator; and Education Program Supervisor Mr. Felicisimo Nelson D. Luz, monitoring supervisor, the OHSP was formally opened. Hence, a management structure support team was formed to organize, design, and implement the school OHSP through setting the targets and choosing appropriate intervention methods with each DORP team member given a separate and different role to perform for the success of the program.
Through the surveys and advocacy campaign made by the DORP team, a total of 28 students were enrolled during its first year of implementation, so far the biggest number of OHSP students in the division.
Under the OHSP, schedule of classes is flexible, depending on the time decided by teachers and students. The DSAMNHS however, has standardized its schedule by making them report to school every Tuesday.
After the opening of classes, the students are oriented on the background and objectives of the program by the school principal. Books are then issued by the designated supply officers. Then they are made to fill out the learners’ profile and sign the learners’ agreement. They are evaluated using the Independent Learning Readiness Test (ILRT) and Informal Reading Inventory (IRI) to diagnose their capacity for independent training and reading levels as basis for class grouping.
To intensify the program as a tool for distance learning, subject teachers use downloadable modules of Project Effective Alternative Secondary Education (EASE) of the Bureau of Secondary Education of the DepEd. The contents are similar to those of the textbooks used by regular students. These modules are brought home by the students for their self- study which allow them to continue their lessons and classroom activities during their own convenient time. Assignments are also given ahead of time and students are required to submit their outputs upon returning to school.
The OHSP is formal and structured. Thus, the students need to learn the eight core subjects and graduate by completing the four levels of secondary education. The grading system is the same as that of the regular program. Fourth year students in the OHSP also graduate with the regular fourth year students at the end of the school year.
The school also ties up with the Alternative Learning System (ALS) of the District to prepare the students for the accreditation test. Under the ALS program, the learners who are dropouts and 15 years old and above and who can pass the exam will be given a diploma certifying that they have finished high school.
Regular monitoring of the Division DORP Coordinator also contributes to the success of the program. Reports are also required to monitor the progress of the program. As a result, the first year of the OHSP was indeed fruitful and productive. All the 28 enrollees were promoted to the higher year. The six fourth year students graduated with the regular fourth year students last April. Aside from the six graduates, there were four students who passed the ALS examination and are now ready to go to college.
This year, the enrollment increased to 30 students. Starting last June 7, the school strictly observed the guidelines of the program. The students are undergoing the same procedure undergone by the first group of OHSP students. Schedule of classes are also the same and modules are also utilized to facilitate learning.
Now in its second year of operation, it is hoped that with the help of the stakeholders and the assurance of funding for the program, problems on logistics will be minimized.
The following are some stories and testimonies of the OHSP students:
Arthuro V. Vidad, Jr., a first year OHSP student said, “The program is a new blessing, a new hope, and a second opportunity to us. Hence, we should grab it, or else, we will not be given another chance again.”
With the timely birth of the OHSP, Arthuro found his way back to school. He took a deep breath as he reminisced the dark moments of his life-the time when he was out of school. He was still a freshman when he dropped out from school because he took care of his ailing mother. His father was so cruel to him and his siblings. He longed for affirmation that he would be loved, cared, and wanted. The death of his mother dampened his spirit and his dreams were torn into pieces. He went with bad peers and spent time in computer shops playing on- line games. Until one day, his neighbors and friends told him about the OHSP offered by the Don Salustiano Aquino Memorial National High School. Agustina A. Tomas, a third year student stopped going to school due to the influence of bad peers. Then, she married at an early age, followed by the birth of her children. These conditions would have hindered her from continuing her high school education. Her dreams would have vanished. Fortunately, they did not. Under the OHSP, Agustina pursued her studies and managed her time wisely. Since her schedule demanded her to report to school only on Tuesdays, she could still help her husband earn a living and spend time with her children.
Agustina, a nursing mother even brought her four-month old baby in school. “The principal and teachers are so accommodating. They attend to my baby’s needs while I am having my class,” she said.
Sheenalyn R. Alburo and Junn Suna Cabaña did not survive schooling due to many trials at home. They developed low self-esteem and found refuge under the care of their peers who later on influenced them to engage in social pitfalls. Luckily, their close relatives helped them to live a new life and encouraged them to enroll in the program.
“It’s embarrassing to go to school because I’m already over-aged but through the OHSP, I am regaining my self-confidence. We are only few in class so all of us can participate in the discussions,” Sheenalyn disclosed.
Paul Vincent A. Salvador, an assistant make-up artist and wedding coordinator, Jay Mhar Prudenciano, and Efren O. Nantes O. Nantes, construction workers, can still work while studying. They were forced to stop because they needed to help their parents augment their income.
“The OHSP is for time and money-savers,” Paul Vincent said. “I also noticed that teachers are so focused in our lessons. They need not worry about our discipline because we are few. So, our class is more manageable than the regular class,” he added.
Efren promised to himself that he would finish his education. He started working when he was still very young. He experienced extreme poverty and he would not want his future children to experience the same.
Farming is the primary means of livelihood in Piddig and other nearby towns. Many students just like Francis A. Bautista, Marcos L. Dela Cruz, Rex C. Gaoiran, and Jessie Boy V. Baron cannot report to school regularly because they need to help their parents during the planting and harvesting seasons. Hence, they prefer the OHSP because learning is facilitated by modules.
“The modules are full of interesting lessons and enrichment activities. Lectures are easier to understand than textbooks because they are self-directed,” said Jojo S. Marcelino. He further said, “The program is impartial and fair. Whatever the regular students do, we also do it in class.”
“There is a sense of belongingness and freedom in our class. We can voice out our sentiments and treat each other as one family,” Jaykell T. Sacramento said.
Christ Mae Nicolas, who is looking forward to receive her diploma in March said, “The OHSP opens doors for me to various opportunities. I can go to college next school year.”
Edwin B. Manuel, a fourth year student said, “In March, I hope to graduate with the regular students.”
Truly, everyone deserves a second chance.