Education is one of the hardest hit sectors in the months-long lockdown that has forced everyone to stay at home, work from home and study-from-home.
While the government tried its best to contain the virus, stop the spread of the disease and dole out whatever it can give to the masses, efforts are not enough.
To augment public sector’s efforts, private companies did their part in the form of “bayanihan”. One of them is Mondelez Philippines, the company behind the Joy Schools Program which supports schools even during the suspension of face-to-face classes.
The Joy Schools is the flagship community program of Mondelez Philippines, which has been running for the past nine years. It has touched the lives of tens of thousands of students in 16 public elementary schools nationwide for various interventions on nutrition.
It aims to help improve the nutrition of students through feeding interventions as well as promoting the importance of physical activity.
This year the program has chosen three new schools—Don Galo Elementary School and 4thEstate Elementary School in Parañaque and Balara Elementary School in Quezon City—as recipients of learning kits that will benefit at least 300 students.
“The currently adopted three schools will be under the Joy Schools program for the next two years,” says Mondelez Philippines country manager for corporate affairs Toff Rada.
“After this, a new batch of schools will be adopted by the program, still focusing on the cities of Parañaque and Quezon City. Parañaque is our company’s home city, where our plant and offices have been located for the past 57 years,” he says.
“Through the Joy Schools program, we get to give back and exhibit the values of a good corporate citizen in our local community. It is our hope that we get to adopt all 26 public elementary schools in the city in the succeeding years. To date, the program has adopted 9 schools in Parañaque alone since 2011,” says Rada.
Each kit contains materials which can help students keep up with their class activities, even remotely. These basic school materials are simple yet urgently needed by public school students as they embark on their home learning journey.
The kits aims to assist students and improve their learning curve, as the country temporarily adopts the virtual learning platform. Majority of the adopted students do not have access to internet and gadgets to online education.
The company is also donating 150 laptops to the three schools. Internet access will be provided together with the laptops.
Adopted students also automatically qualify for the nine-month feeding program. Starting October when classes begin, families will receive vegetable packs good for one week’s worth of meals.
The food packs ensure the students get the right nutrition to continue learning.
The Joy Schools have also adopted schools in Tacloban after Typhoon Yolanda, Quezon City, Pasay, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Manila and Pateros.
Most recently, to help educate students on the importance of recycling, the Joy Schools built four recycled play areas made with ecobricks or plastic bottles stuffed with shredded plastic.
The play areas serve as a reminder to the schools and students that recycling is important and can help give new life to the things used every day like plastic packaging.
Through the years, the program has also supported infrastructure and materials needs of the schools, from classrooms for those affected by disasters, to improved kitchen facilities and learning corners.
Rada says that COVID-19 created challenges above and beyond the comprehension of any socio-economic expert.
“The pandemic invites engagement and action from all sectors of society, including government, corporate organizations, and citizens of this country,” he says.
“This virus has radically reshaped our world, mostly in a negative manner, but efforts like these make resiliency even more possible. Providing access to digital tools and educational materials will hopefully pave the way back to a better normal,” he says.
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