In a Pirates’ Island, Education Not Booty Gives Hope to Kids

Ticala Island, San Pablo, Zamboanga del Sur – ONCE upon a time a no man’s land, this island has found new hope with its children getting more decent education because of the newly completed school building donated by the World Bank-assisted Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS) project.

The P1.3 million two-classroom structure is catering now to less than a hundred children and youth who before then were crammed in a borrowed small structure of the barangay.

This new building now enables us to send our children to school, unlike before when we were limited to by the size and condition of the old jampacked structure,” said resident Albaya Asim. The old classrooms could only contain grades one and two but the new one is already open up to grade four, and now there is a plan to open grade five next year and the first elementary graduates will march by 2010.

According to Asim, before they acquired the new school building, their children enrolled in higher grade levels had to spend two hours each day just to commute over to the nearest Bubual Elementary School in the mainland San Pablo town.

When weather is bad, Asim added, the children will be forced to be absent, and often many dropped out. Those who can would attend only twice a week because we cannot also afford to send them everyday as we are also busy looking ways for our day-to-day living, she added.

Main source of living for residents of the more than 50 households in this Muslim-dominated coastal village is only fishing and a little of farming. Like in many others towns in the country, their sad situation is not anymore new to Ticala’s residents, but with their new school building gives a measure of hope to the children.

“I am very happy and excited to continue and finish my elementary education,” said student Rahina Ismael. Rahina is now enrolled as a grade four student, although she is already aged 15, an age when normally a girl like her shoud be in her third year high school. However, she is eager to fulfill her dream of becoming a policewoman someday.

“I want to help the needy and to uplift my community,” she said. Her village is notorious for being a lair of pirates and other criminals.

“People are afraid when you mention to them Ticala Island,,” grieves village chief Yasser O. Samal.

Honelyn Alipio, regional social marketing officer of KALAHI-CIDSS in Zamboanga Peninsula , revealed that at aside from the school building in Ticala Island , other infrastructure projects are also operational in other fourth and fifth class towns of the region. These include potable water systems, rice mill, footbridges, road construction and rehabilitation, and health centers.

In a recent media visit organized by the KALAHI-CIDSS regional office, among the project visited included the flea market and footbridge project in Mabuhay, Zamboanga Sibugay Province, Ticala school building and water system project in San Pablo town, and a road construction project in Midsalip town.

“These projects represent our commitment to help local communities,” she said. “We want to build on them the sense of ownership in and through these projects,” Alipio said.

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