OUT-OF-SCHOOL YOUTHS LEARN 3Rs AND FARMING

OUT-OF-SCHOOL YOUTHS LEARN 3Rs AND FARMING
OUT-OF-SCHOOL YOUTHS LEARN 3Rs AND FARMING
TRAINEES preparing potting medium for seedling trays.

Some 160 out-of-school youths aged 13 to 23 are learning to read and write as well as the basics of organic farming at the Aces Natural Farming Institute in Panabo City in Davao del Norte. The kids, male and female, come from different regions all over Mindanao and two regions in the Visayas. They are under the program called ATI-P or Academic and Technology Integrated Program which is part of the alternative learning system.

OUT-OF-SCHOOL YOUTHS LEARN 3Rs AND FARMING
DR. FRANK DELA PEÑA with the out-of-school youths during break time.

The kids study for a period of six months. They stay on campus with their own sleeping quarters and are provided three meals daily and other basic needs like toothbrush, soap, etc. The project is a program initiated by the Agriculture Training Institute aimed at giving an opportunity for poor kids whose families can’t afford to send them to school. The idea is to equip them with self-confidence as well as academic and technical know-how. In the end they could become productive farmers or entrepreneurs in their own communities. It is one way of encouraging the youth to go into agriculture.

OUT-OF-SCHOOL YOUTHS LEARN 3Rs AND FARMING
NATIVE CHICKENS at the training center.

Every day, the kids attend classes where they are taught writing, reading, arithmetic plus good manners and right conduct. Part of the same day, they go through lectures as well as hands-on activities in agriculture. The schedule is like this. Upon waking up at five in the morning, they take coffee and then proceed to their assignments which could be feeding the chickens or pigs or tending their vegetable garden. Then at 8 o’clock they take their breakfast. They could then attend practical activities under the roofed training hall where they could be mixing potting media for seedlings or mixing feeds for the pigs. By 10 o’clock they will be attending their reading and writing classes. The schedule has been patterned after the usual schedule of farmers. They work early and then rest when it becomes too hot in the field. It’s not all work and study, however. They also engage in sports like basketball, singing , dancing and other recreational activities.

OUT-OF-SCHOOL YOUTHS LEARN 3Rs AND FARMING
DR. FRANK DELA PEÑA is founder of the Aces Natural Farming Institute.

Dr. Frank dela Peña,founder of Aces Polytechnic Colleges and the Aces Natural Farming Institute, is a practical educator and an advocate of natural farming. He said that the kids will learn five technical competencies, namely: hog farming, chicken raising, organic fertilizer production, organic vegetable production and making organic concoctions and extracts used in growing plants and animals. In the latter three months of the program, they will also be taught techniques in processing their harvests from their crops and their pigs and chickens. The cost of the six months training which is about P21,000 is shouldered by the Agricultural Training Institute. Dr. Dela Peña notes that when the out-of-school youths arrived last April, they were very reticent and reserved. Today they are outgoing. And whenever they meet a visitor, they would smile and never fail to say “good morning sir” or “good morning ma’am”. If you ask them what they have learned, they can tell you, too.

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