Thursday, July 7, 2011

Could Cooperative Homeschooling Be a Part of the Solution?

While I was in the Philippines this past winter, I learned that not only are the children required to wear uniforms in order to attend school; there are fees to be paid, as well. Because most families are too poor for such “luxuries,” many children do not receive an education. Yet, in order for a person to obtain even the lowest paying jobs, such as working at McDonald’s (yes, they are everywhere!), they must obtain 1-2 years of college education! Needless to say, the unemployment rate is quite high!

Often, the eldest daughter in a family is held responsible to help provide for the rest of her family. She is often sold by her father into what he believes is “domestic work,” but in actuality she is trafficked as a sex slave or out of deep loyalty toward her family she sells herself to prevent them from starving! My heart aches over such horrible reality!

A number of weeks to go, I began to consider that homeschooling might be an answer for those living in such poverty. Through a little research, I discovered that homeschooling is not only legal in the Philippines, but that there are an estimated 4,000 being homeschooled. Having this information, many questions began to run through my mind:

• How can uneducated parents fulfill a teaching role for their children?
• How can they afford the educational resources necessary for homeschooling?
• What is the role of the House Church communities in helping to educate children within their communities?
• Are there ministries already established for this purpose that I might glean information from?
• Are there mission workers who can help train the parents and community leaders?

Considering our special concern for those at risk or enslaved in sexual exploitation, it seems that the safe confines of Christian fellowship and community would be a perfect place for them and their children to obtain a well-rounded education taught by a variety of community members!

Perhaps a homeschool cooperative through which families join together to educate their children would prove to be beneficial in many ways:
• low cost
• a safe environment
• multiple teachers with diverse skills and interests
• the ability to select learning methods, curriculum and most importantly Christian values
• high academic standards

A cooperative would enhance the homeschool experience by involving children in a community of friends and families, exposing them to a variety of academic topics and activities.

Something I learned in public school that is being confirmed in my adult life: if you color outside the lines you will Fail! What will you fail? You will fail to please the authorities, the conformists and the fearful. You must conform! Thinking outside of the box is punishable by “F“!
Rules are important. We need them. But sometimes they are used to our detriment, to prevent creativity and to keep things the way they are.
- dhayward

Further research led me to information about The Master’s Academy in the Philippines. According to its director, Edric Mendoza, “Filipinos are still very open to biblical truth and generally have a religious outlook. They are becoming more open to the option of homeschooling, especially when it is discussed in light of character development.” Mendoza explains that “The public school system is not only wracked with practical problems—a ratio of 50 students to 1 teacher (at best), substandard curriculums, and a decline in the quality of teachers—but there is also a growing population of young people who are being lost in the noise of a media and technological age that seeks to erase God.”

The Master’s Academy is a homeschooling program that seeks “To provide families with a world-class, distinctly Filipino, family-focused homeschool experience via a Christian worldview and the Luke 2:52 model”!

TMA “created a Training & Receiving center based in Manila, to increase accessibility to its enrolled families who come for orientations, seminars, workshops, events, meetings with Academic Consultants, as well as the processing of enrollment. However, in the nature of homeschooling, daily instruction of their children happens in the home…”
After answering a few questions about what my vision is, Mr. Mendoza agreed to meet with us to discuss what might be done to help!

When I shared all of this with a dear friend, she suggested that U.S. homeschoolers could be drawn to support this mission and provide input/resources, sending their no longer needed materials and having their children as pen-pals for mission kids! What a wonderful vision!

Can you imagine the honor of praying for and rejoicing with these families as they achieve academic excellence along within their community life as children of the Most High God?

What else can I say, but…. “Amen (Let it be so), Lord Jesus!”


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