Social Science Diliman (Dec 2011)
Empowering the Youth Through Voluntarism: University of the Philippines Graduates as Volunteer Teachers (1998-2003)
In 1994, the University of the Philippines established Ugnayan ng Pahinungod as the premier state university’s volunteer service program to promote engaged citizenship among its constituents and to integrate voluntarism into the university’s academic functions of teaching, research and extension. Launched in 1997, the Gurong Pahinungod (Volunteer Teacher Program) became the centerpiece initiative of this program. It was designed to deploy volunteers for one academic year, as subject-matter teachers in basic education courses such as English, history, mathematics and science in underserved areas identified by the Department of Education. The program was viewed by Pahinungod’s advocates as the university’s intervention in dealing with the problems besetting the public education sector such as shortage of teachers and low quality of instruction. This article examines the modes of intervention employed by volunteer teachers as bearers of change in communities, from 1998 to 2003. It also attempts to analyze the discourses of empowerment contained in the mass of documents produced throughout the first five years of existence of the program. The discourses of empowerment and identity as practiced and constructed by the volunteer teachers showed two key levels of empowerment in their experiences and thoughts. The first level is the self-fulfillment of volunteers in sharing their time, skills and knowledge as teachers cum community workers. The other level of empowerment is the volunteers’ realization that they were really the ones being empowered because they learned more from the community and grew to be better individuals out of the experience.