Kyle David Atienza: Gusto Kong Bumoto Para Sa Mga Guro at Mag-Aaral

This interview features Kyle David Atienza, a Special Science Teacher at the Department of Education and the Founder of The Street Classroom.


How did you become a youth leader in education?

My path as a youth leader in education started when I entered college and pursue a degree in secondary education. From my freshmen year, I was elected as a department officer

and have received leadership awards from then until the day of my graduation. But this path grew when I graduated college, passed the licensure examination for teachers, got and lost my first office job, and then started a non-profit organization called “The Street Classroom”.

During my practicum course during collegiate days, I met a kid named “Carlo” who would always poke me every time I enter their school and this kept happening for two consecutive

months. During Teachers Day of 2017, he told me that he had dreamt about me that I was

teaching kids in the streets of Marinduque. This was two years even before The Street Classroom was founded. A simple Facebook post started TSC’s journey of making dreams a

reality one street at a time. Our organization aims to create and provide support systems to all

types of learners in order to encourage them to go back or continue schooling under formal education. In a span of two years, we were able to help and empower more than 5,000

Marinduquenos all through the use of responsible social media, donations, and kindness.

Because of the work that we do, I was recognized by DOST MIMAROPA as one of its Patriot Scholars, by NEDA MIMAROPA as one of its finalists for the Outstanding CoVid19 volunteers, and was recently recognized as one of the Seven Outstanding Juans of the Philippines for the initiatives that I started for the education and social welfare sectors. The Street Classroom is also consistently recognized for three consecutive years by the Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) Awards Foundation for its outstanding projects in MIMAROPA. Currently, The Street Classroom is one of the national finalists for this year’s TAYO Awards out of 933 project entries from all regions of the Philippines.


What are the most pressing issues that concern Filipino educators and learners and how do you address these issues?

All projects of our organization are backed by research. One of the most pressing issues that we are trying to resolve and are continuously resolving is the lack of a support system for our learners inside their homes and their schools. There was a recent research that revealed that 7 out of 10 Filipino youth don’t have dreams, and it’s not mainly because of poverty (which only ranked 4th) but mostly because of the lack of a support system. The new normal in education has exposed educational and social gaps in learners. One without educational assistance or support from a more knowledgeable other is deemed to struggle in school. Parents whose educational attainment cannot suffice the demands of distance learning lead to difficulties in their child’s learning in the new normal. This is why The Street Classroom started the 4Ps para sa 4Ps initiative which provides a holistic approach program for the “poorest among the poor” Filipinos. One of its components is the Hatid-Aral where we have partnered with multiple NGOs and agencies, including the Office of the Vice President, to provide access to quality and equitable education for all by giving them learning materials, gadgets, internet connection, and even tutorial services. From our 4,810 beneficiary learners, 99.95% of which are now maintained in school with commendable academic ratings.


As a youth leader in education, what characteristics are you looking for in a national and local government candidate? How would these characteristics enable the candidate to address the issues that you mentioned?

The first characteristic that I am looking for in a government candidate is malasakit. It may be a common and overused term nowadays but malasakit is a mixture of empathy and care for others. When a person is concerned (or may malasakit), he/she fully understands the struggles of the people on ground. From there, social awareness will be created and steps cannot be undertaken to provide solutions to identified problems. It is in our Pinoy blood to have malasakit towards others. This is the same thing that we do for our volunteers, we expose them to the different societal issues and problems for them to have a deeper understanding of why we need to do something.

Another characteristic that I look for is innovativeness. As a youth leader who works with no or minimum budget for our projects, one must be innovative in order to provide the help that our kababayans need. Money will never be an issue to a leader who is passionate about the work he/she does.

The last characteristic that I look for is accountability. Nowadays, we have seen leaders pointing fingers at each other whenever problems came in. As a leader, he/she must be held accountable for whatever results their actions lead to. You are the leader of the pack and you must not blame others for the mistakes that you have done. We need a leader who can stand for his/her people.


As a youth leader in education, what policies and programs do you want the national and local government candidates to support? Which of these do you want to be prioritized?

As a youth leader, I would definitely want to raise three policies or programs which our government candidates must support. First is the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 by the United Nations. The Philippines may currently have the AmBisyon 2040 by the National Economic and Development Authority which is commendable since this is more localized in the Philippine setting, but the SDGs are global goals that we share. Youth organizations and other NGOs are making steps in helping achieve the global goals and we must have the support of the government in achieving them. These are not just for the benefit of the Philippines but also for other countries that are greatly struggling in terms of education, health, economics, and even justice.

Another program that our leaders must strongly support is the Ligtas na Balik Eskwela. As a youth leader in education and as a public school teacher, we must not only bring back our learners in school for a mere show (considering that the Philippines is one of the only few nations with no face to face classes) but we must strongly consider if our learners, communities, and schools are well-prepared for face to face modalities. Ligtas na Balik-Eskwela can only be achieved when learners, parents, communities, and the government have strong ties and a common goal. Teachers alone cannot make this work. We need our leaders to stand and provide an adequate budget for a safer school community.

The last program that I want our leaders to support is the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. Currently, our organization The Street Classroom is a partner of the Department of Social Welfare and Development in providing assistance to Pantawid learners. Because of this, we have timely data and experience in what the problem truly is. The 4Ps is a conditional cash grant to which the poorest of the poor households must comply to receive monthly grants for education and health concerns. Non-compliance to these conditions will lead to the deduction of grants. Working with DSWD, we have identified 4 major concerns of these households which our 4Ps para sa 4Ps initiative is addressing: (1) pagkain, (2) pangkabuhayan, (3) pang-edukasyon, and (4) panatag na isipan. A concern in the Pantawid Program is that it somehow intends to indirectly teach financial literacy to households by providing them monetary assistance that needs to be budgeted in the household. Complementary programs for food and occupation, education, and mental health must be made for households to budget the assistance for other concerns. Teaching households how to grow their own food and make a profit provides additional income for the household. Educating households in livelihood and small-scale business can give them jobs. These are just some of the identified gaps of the Pantawid program which is now institutionalized by RA 11310. We can do a lot more to help elevate the poorest of the poor. We just truly need to expose ourselves to our own experiences so that actions are targeting their problems.


Should candidates with these characteristics and priorities success in #Halalan2022, how do you envision the Philippines and the lived realities of Filipino educators and learners in 6 years?

Matatag, Maginhawa, at Panatag na Pilipinas can be achieved. Addressing the concerns mentioned above will also ultimately fix the political system of the Philippines. Internal cleansing will lead to a better Philippines. If a candidate with those characteristics and priorities win, Filipinos can sleep at night knowing that they can live another day with sufficient supply for their daily needs. The Philippines shall be a country where all citizens are free from hunger and poverty and have equal opportunities. The Philippines can become a nation where members live in unison, thriving in a vibrant, culturally-diverse, and resilient community.

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