Stories of Change


Ang kasunod na hakbang

 June 13, 2018    

Isinulat ni Ronel Amparo

 

MARAGONDON CITY–– Ronel Amparo is a PWD volunteer monitor for the project “Improving School Accessibility for PWDs using CheckMySchool Participatory Monitoring”. Supported by The Asia Foundation and the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, this project aims to influence policies on accessibility of public schools for PWDs.

 

Ronel wrote this story to bring to life PWDs’ issues and struggles because of the ineffective implementation of the Accessibility Law or Batasang Pambansa Bilang 344 in public schools. See English translation below.

 

 

Picture2 Sa pagbisita ni Ronel Amparo (nasa gitna) sa bahay ni Jinky Mae Sendon, nalaman nyang naging mahirap para sa dalaga na may kapansanan ang pagpasok sa paaralan.

 

Kwento ito ng isang mag-aaral na PWD na si Jinky Mae Sendon mula sa Bucal National High School. Dumanas siya ng masidhing pakikibaka para lamang makapag-aral.

 

Nadapa. Nahulog sa hagdan. Pinagtawanan. Masama ang naging epekto ng mga ito sa kanyang tiwala sa sarili at sa kanyang mismong pagpapahalaga sa edukasyon.

 

Nakausap namin siya para sa CheckMySchool monitoring ng PWD accessibility. Napakabait ng pamilya nya. Maganda ang naging pagtanggap nila saamin. Pinasagutan namin sa kanya ang issue identification survey.

 

Habang nakikinig ako sa pagsagot niya, napansin ko na hindi man lang siya ngumiti kahit minsan. Parang lahat ng karanasan niya sa paaralan ay naging mahirap. Ramdam na ramdam ko ang bigat ng loob nya. Kaya ipinakiusap ko na isulat niya kung ano ang naranasan niya sa pagpasok sa school. At doon ko nga ito lubusang naintindihan.

 

Matapos ang interbyu, nagpunta ako sa mismong paaralan. Pinuntahan ko ang mga lugar na nabanggit ni Jinky, gaya ng canteen at CR. Doon ko nakita na talagang malayo. Mahirap at masakit din itong lakaran ng mga kagaya namin. Mabato ang daanan. Matalas ang mga bato. Nasa itaas na palapag ang classroom ni Jinky. Inakyat ko rin ito at naranasan ko kung gaano ito kahirap akyatin. Napakahirap mag-balanse habang umaakyat.

 

Sa sumunod na araw, nag-feedback kami sa school ng nakalap na isyu. Naisalaysay ko sa Officer-in-Charge ng araw na iyon ang karanasan ni Jinky sa paaralan. Hindi siya agad naniwala na nangyayari iyon sa loob ng paaralan. Ikinuwento ko pa ang ibang detalye, kasama ang tungkol sa canteen at sa toilet. Principal daw ang makakasagot nito.

 

Kasunod naming nakausap ang principal. Ngunit ganito ang paliwanag nya, “Kung alam na ng PWD na malayo ang canteen, dapat magbaon na lang sya. Sa paglabas naman ng classroom, magpaiwan na lang muna para di siya masagi ng mga kaklase na sabay-sabay na naglalabasan.”

 

Naikumpara rin si Jinky sa kapwa estudyanteng lalaki na may kapansanan din. Maganda raw itong halimbawa. Di ito nagrereklamo dahil nasanay na. “Kahanga-hanga! Malakas ang loob. Pag nakikita ko siya, parang karaniwan lang. Parang walang kapansanan,” naalala kong sabi ng principal.

 

 

Picture1 Positibong tumugon ang punong-guro (nasa gitna) ng Bucal NHS sa isyu na nakalap ni Ronel. Pagtalaga nang mas malapit na silid-aralan para sa mga PWDs ang isa sa kanyang solusyon dito.

 

Ang nasabi ko na lang ay ganito: “Magkaroon po sana ng magandang alaala ang bawat estudyante sa kanyang paaralan.”

 

Mahaba-haba rin ang aming usapan. Ipinagdiinan ko na may batas tungkol sa pagsasaayos ng pasilidad para sa PWDs, ang BP 344. Ipinaunawa ko sa kanya na kung ang karanasan sa paaralan ay mapatunayang dahilan ng paghinto ng estudyante sa pag-aaral, maaaring managot ang mga namumuno sa paaralan.

 

Nagulat ako sa naging sagot ng principal. “Hayaan mo. Kung sakaling babalik siya rito, handa akong i-adjust ang room assignment. Dito ko na rin sya papapuntahin sa mas malapit na CR ng mga guro. Pwede rin siyang dalahan ng pagkain para di na sya pupunta sa canteen,” naalala kong sagot niya.

 

Tuwang-tuwa ako sa narinig ko. Naisip ko, pwede na uling mag-aral si Jinky na hindi na mahihirapan. Nagpasalamat ako sa principal at sinabi ko rin, “Ma’am, aasahan po namin yan.”

 

Gustong-gusto ko agad makausap si Jinky tungkol rito. Nung pinuntahan ko uli siya, sinabi ko agad na, “Jinky, pwede ka na uling pumasok sa Bucal [HS]. Nagkausap na kami ng Principal na mag-aadjust na sila para saiyo.”

 

Ngumiti siya, pero ramdam mo ang lamlam ng kanyang ngiti. Parang di siya naniniwala. Talagang matindi ang naging epekto ng nakaraan niyang karanasan.

 

Sa ngayon, kay Jinky na nakasalalay ang mga kasunod na hakbang. Pinanghahawakan na lang namin ang ipinangako ng pamunuan ng eskwelahan na mas maayos na pakikitungo sa kanya at sa mga katulad naming may kapansanan.

 

Madalas sa ating lipunan, pinupuri ang may kapansanan na nagtatagumpay sa kabila ng hirap ng sitwasyon. Hinahangaan kapag malakas ang loob na harapin ang mga hamon. Pero dahil dito, parang nawawala ang atensyon sa pagkukulang ng estado sa pagtugon sa pangangailangan ng may kapansanan, na ipinag-uutos naman ng batas, gaya ng BP 344.

 

Sa huli, talagang bugbog na tayo sa kawalan ng aksyon ng pamahalaan. Minsan, halos manhid na tayo sa pangungutya at paulit-ulit na pagpansin sa ating kapansanan. Pero mas nakakadurog ng puso na alam mo na may batas na kaagapay mo sana, subalit hindi naipapatupad o naisasantabi lang.

 

Gayunman, sana dahil sa naibigay na pangako ng Principal, maisip ni Jinky na bumalik at tuluyang makapagtapos ng pag-aaral.

 

 

The next step
(Translation by Darlene Motil)

 

This is a story about Jinky Mae Sendon, a PWD student of Bucal National High School and the difficult learning situations she experienced.

 

Stumbled. Fell from the stairs. Ridiculed. These have had negative effects on Jinky’s self-esteem and what education means to her.

 

We talked to her for the CheckMySchool monitoring PWD accessibility [of schools]. She has a kindhearted family. They gave us a warm welcome. We asked her to answer the issue identification survey.

 

While listening to her respond to the questions, I noticed she never smiled, not even once. She must have had terrible experiences in school. Feeling her despair, I asked her to write down her experiences as a student. Only then did I come to understand what she really went through.

 

After the interview, I visited the school to check the issues Jinky mentioned [in the issue identification form], such as the way to the canteen and comfort room. Indeed, these facilities are far from her classroom, which is on the upper floor of the building. Sharp stones in the pathway make walking difficult for PWDs. Balancing was a struggle as well while ascending the stairs to her classroom.

 

The next day, we reported the issues to the school. I explained to the Officer-in-Charge the difficulties Jinky had encountered while in school. She did not believe us right away and told us that it was the School Principal who could answer our concerns.

 

We talked to the Principal next. “If the canteen is far from the PWD’s classroom, she should bring packed lunch to school. During class dismissal, she should wait for her classmates leave the room first to avoid getting brushed by other students,” the Principal said.

 

She also compared Jinky to another PWD, who is male student. For her, he is a role model because he does not complain as he already got used to the situation. “I admire him. He is strong-willed. Everytime I see him, he looks like a regular student. It’s as if he has no disability,” the principal added.

 

“I hope that every student will have fond memories of their school days,” I managed to say in response to the Principal.

 

We had a long conversation. I argued that there is a law (BP 344) that requires institutions to install PWD-friendly facilities. I also explained that if a PWD student drops out of school because of difficult learning situations, the school authorities could be held liable.

 

I was surprised with what the Principal told us. She said, “Don’t worry, if she comes back to school, I will assign her to an accessible classroom. I will let her use the comfort room for teachers which is closer. Someone could also bring her lunch, so she doesn’t have to walk to the canteen.” I was ecstatic. Jinky could now go back to school. “Thank you. We’ll hold on to your promise, Ma’am,” I responded.

 

I shared the good news to Jinky as soon as I could. I told her, “Jinky, you may now return to school. I already talked to the Principal. They will make necessary adjustments for you.”

 

Jinky smiled, but I felt that she didn’t believe me. The bad experiences in the past must have had a huge impact on her.

 

It’s now up to Jinky to take the next steps. We count on the school authorities’ commitment to give better treatment and assistance to her and to other students with similar disability.

 

Our society gives high regard to PWDs who succeed in life in the face of great difficulties. They are admired for their courage to face up to the challenge. But this romanticized view of PWDs diverts our attention from the government’s failure to address the needs of PWDs, which is their accountability by virtue of the law on accessibility (BP 344).

 

We are, indeed, at the losing end of the government’s inability to act on these issues. We have gotten used to being mocked because of our disability. But more painful is the thought that we could have been better off because there’s a law on our side, if only the government would strictly enforce it.

 

Nevertheless, counting on the Principal’s promise, I wish Jinky will still go back to school and finish her studies.

 

 


If there’s any issue, problem or anything that you think needs improvement in your school, let us know if CMS can help. Go to  http://www.checkmyschool.org/cms-can-help/.

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