Time:  Sunday, June 23 to Thursday, July 11, 2013

Location: Cebu City, Cebu, Philippines



One of the most pressing issues in the Philippines is the correlation between poverty and the increasing educational dropout rate. Statistics from the Department of Education (DepEd) show that the number of students aged 6-15 who have dropped out or never attended school stands at 5.6 million – twice the number of residents (2.68 million) living in Quezon City, the largest political unit in Manila. Of those attending school, 40% between the ages of 12 and 15 failed to enroll in secondary school. At this rate, within the next decade, the country will have millions of low-skilled workers who are unable to meet the technical requirements of 21st century jobs.

Project Philippines ‘13 (PP13) will address the lack of continuity in underprivileged youth education by building relationships among different stakeholders in Cebu’s community. We would like to create a program that shows underprivileged youth that there are people who want to help them better their lives. In working with local high school students and a non-profit organization that builds communities for families who have been displaced from their homes due to financial circumstances, we will:

  • Foster connections between educational institutions and less-privileged communities by creating and implementing a tutor/mentorship program between the local high school students and the youth in Gawad Kalinga.
  • Create a network of support for youth with limited access to educational resources and peer groups.
  • Strengthen Gawad Kalinga youth’s confidence in the power of continuing their education to at least the secondary level. 


Public school education is free, yet almost half of the students in the Philippines who come from low-income families choose to drop their formal lessons once they learn to read and write. The majority of these individuals do so because they prefer to begin employment early in order to support their families; others undervalue the importance of continuing their schooling because they believe basic literacy skills will be enough for them to enter the workforce. This will account for the 25% of students currently enrolled in school who will not even complete the primary level, as observed by the Philippine Institute of Development Studies. A lack of educational achievement greatly reduces their access to opportunities, ultimately lowering their quality of life.

Gawad Kalinga’s youth is a population that consists of children who are unable to attend school and enjoy studying because they must often spend their time scavenging for food or working at a very young age to help their families. The organization believes that education should be available to everyone as it allows people to live with dignity and empowerment.

Through this project, we hope to introduce Gawad Kalinga youth to role models who have successfully excelled in their education despite difficult life situations. Gawad Kalinga’s focus is to lift people out of poverty through cooperation and community empowerment. In light of this goal, our partner high school students will serve as mentors to elementary-aged Gawad Kalinga youth, tutoring them in math, science, and literacy and providing a system of peer support. Through this system of mentorship, we aim to further Gawad Kalinga’s goals of development through the promotion of educational attainment as one key aspect of community infrastructure. Over time, our goal is to heighten the youth’s value of education and encourage them to strive for academic excellence.


  • Establishing academic tutoring and peer mentoring groups in local partner high schools.
  • Holding leadership workshops in partner high schools to build communication and organizational skills necessary for tutoring and mentoring duties.
  • Emphasizing the importance of pursuing both primary and secondary education in the Gawad Kalinga community through tutoring workshops and a culminating education fair.
  • Creating educational materials and lesson plans for local partners’ continued use with the Gawad Kalinga community.
  • Ensuring project sustainability by fostering communication and collaboration between local partner high schools and the Gawad Kalinga community. 


As SEALNet aims to foster service leadership in Southeast Asia, this project strives to develop and strengthen the high school students’ leadership skills and then present them with an opportunity to put those skills to use. In doing so, they will be serving others in their own community.


Provide tutoring and mentorship for the youth in Gawad Kalinga

  • Craft thoroughly researched lesson plans in accordance to the academic goals of the GK community, which is to be agreed upon by the local partners.
  • Elementary-age youth in these economic situations often find it difficult to grasp the value of an education. Through the combination of tutoring and mentorship by students who are closer to their age and have experienced somewhat similar situations and lifestyles, our goal is to cultivate relationships that inspire the youth to stay in school.

Gawad Kalinga Educational Fair

  • The project team will take on the role of mentors and prepare the high school students for their duties at the fair by conducting leadership workshops at our partner high schools. Mentors will teach the high school students how to adapt this mentorship model to their own duties as tutors and peer mentors for the Gawad Kalinga youth.
  • The fair itself will serve as an academic open house open to students and parents. High school mentees, supported by their project team mentors, will conduct their lessons with GK students for the duration of the morning/afternoon.
  • Parents will be invited to watch the lessons. The purpose of the educational fair is to raise awareness of the resources available to their children and the importance of maintaining a steady education.


Student initiative

  • Team members (mentors) will create and deliver leadership workshops for the high school mentees. Here, they will have a chance to work on skills that can be used while tutoring and mentoring. Past workshops have addressed skills such as public speaking, goal setting, networking, and overcoming obstacles.
  • Team members will be responsible for assisting the high school students in the creation of the tutoring and mentorship program. This will include the lesson plans, educational materials, and schedules for mentoring sessions. However, much of the program’s development will also be the students’ responsibility, as we want them to assume ownership of the project.

This approach intends to address the issue of underprivileged youth’s opportunity to obtain and further their education. Although we cannot change their current situations, Gawad Kalinga has a 7-point development model that aims to address other aspects in the community members’ lives in a well-rounded approach. Our belief in the importance of an education, along with an understanding of our high school mentees’ passion and strengths, has led us to create a problem approach that focuses on educational opportunity. This allows the project team to concentrate on the mentees’ needs, while the mentees have a chance to confront the needs of underprivileged youth in a way that all partners see fit. 


All local partners have been involved with the planning and implementation of Project Philippines in the past. Our goal is to match the needs of Gawad Kalinga with the skills/passion/intelligence of the high school students.

  • Gawad Kalinga: A non-profit organization that builds communities for displaced families and provides them with tools necessary to improve their situations.
    • Website:
    • University of the Philippines – Cebu High School: A local high school with an Enriched General Curriculum and admits students with no less than an academic average of 85% in math, science, English, civics and Filipino.
    • Cebu City National Science High School: A local high school that consists of students who are in the upper 10% of their graduating class and features a rigorous curriculum focused on math and science.


The success of PP13 will depend on the team members’ passion, dedication, and productivity on all aspects of the project. We require that our team members contribute to the project through the following:

  • Actively engaging in pre-project planning by researching possible lesson plans and educational materials.
  • Designing and implementing leadership workshops for our local high school mentees.
  • Surveying the Gawad Kalinga community to assess their needs and determining how PP13 may best address them.
  • Serving as mentors to local high school students and the Gawad Kalinga youth.
  • Assisting mentees with lesson planning.
  • Meeting with local partners to arrange the sustained implementation of tutoring and mentoring sessions.
  • Learning from one another and collaborating to accomplish above and beyond the goals we set as a team.
  • The willingness to learn and grow throughout the duration of the project.
  • Keeping the mission of the project in mind when making personal/group decisions.
  • Exploring different ways to approach the issue of education.
  • Fundraising for the resources necessary to implement the project.


Because the team members will be working extensively with one another on planning and implementing the project, the following qualities are desirable for optimizing group dynamics:

  • Passion for education; passion for serving others
  • Open-mindedness
  • Patience
  • Adaptability in difficult situations
  • Enthusiasm
  • Respect for project participants and local customs
  • Positivity
  • Compassion
  • Dependability
  • Commitment to the project and its goals


Joanna Florento (Wesleyan ’13) –

Tiffany Huey (University of California, Los Angeles ’13) –