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Home » ALTEC Speeches » ALTEC Launch: Speaker #4 Doc Anton Lim, Co-Founder, Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation

ALTEC Launch: Speaker #4 Doc Anton Lim, Co-Founder, Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation

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Good afternoon. I just saw in the program that I’m supposed to talk about Teach Anywhere but last night I was asked to give a testimonial but sanay naman kami diyan: last minute change in plan.

The reason why our conversation shifted to Jesus, kasi nga, always, when we look for funders, sabi nga nila, “Ano ‘yung sustainability plan ninyo?” So when you’re in the education ecosystem, it’s very hard to put a period when you’re not yet done and kami ni Jaton,  that’s why we get along. We don’t give up because we believe in each and every kid. So if you give up now, just because your funder will stop funding at this certain time, parang ang hirap naman na balikan mo ulit iyon pakuluin mo na naman ang tubig just to reach that certain level.  Sabi ko, “Kung ganoon si Jesus, studies, siguro all of us will lost” diba? But he took a chance. Like him, we should walk by faith and not by sight.

So this is what we’re doing with Teach Anywhere. But before talking about Teach Anywhere, just how it came about is really a testament to: nothing happens by accident. Parang all of us are here for a reason. All of us are meant to meet a certain time at certain point for a reason—that’s what really happened with Teach Anywhere. Having worked with Yellow Boat of Hope, we are exposed to over 150 public schools in over 150 communities, so interacting with the student, with the community leaders and with the teachers, we found out—to our surprise—we have high school students who can barely read. Especially these past few years right after COVID, we went around grabe ‘yung magnitude of the learning loss. So nakakabahala because if you’re looking for a reason, a personal reason why we need this, if you have businesses, or if you’re a school, and you need teachers, just imagine the quality of teacher, the quality of workforce and the quality of leaders that we will have, 4 to 5 years from now, and that’s within our lifetime. Scary diba?

So I invited Jaton to the launching of our children’s book on Yellow Boat. I guess, being “Father” Jaton nga eh, magaling magsalita, so we invited him to inspire during the book launching. Nandoon din si Father Karel, Tides of the Sea. It was written by an Ateneo graduate also and illustrated by another Atenean. So having known him, nag-message lang si Jaton, “Doc, we’ve been trying to get Pratham International to come to the Philippines, and we were not successful. And when we pitched they suddenly said yes and so we heard about your community. Can we involve them?” So that was how it started. Kaming dalawa, we sat on that training with Indian teachers teaching us about Teaching at the Right Level. Iyong Pratham Educational Foundation is one of India’s biggest educational foundation. Iyong method nila, teach at the right level, is well researched and multi-awarded na ito. And it worked; may mga evidence na and research na it worked in India and in South Africa, same environment as we have, and yet they were able to bring a kid to there, you know, in reading and math at their right level in two months time. Amazing diba?

So when we were sitting, first day pa lang ng lecture, it was a very long session, pero first pa lang nila is ‘yung assessment. I was taken at how simple they did the assessment. Can you read letters? Can you read words? Can you read sentences? Can you read paragraph? Ganoon lang. Sabi nga ni Jaton, “Kung ‘yung bata cannot read letters, ba’t mo pa ipapabasa ng words? Parang human right  violation na iyan kung papabasahin mo pa siya ng sentence.” But the way the Teaching at the Right Level did their survey was very simple and it was being, parang, lahat ng nasa back end of the class, pinasama-sama mo. And when we ran this sa communities namin, we saw how kids who can barely read—na tahimik lang because they’re ashamed, they are ashamed of not being able to cope up with their classmates—suddenly participating, raising their hands nakita namin sa community namin sa Sibugay, that was during the COVID time.

So we were so amazed at the transformation. So when we ran this, siyempre after school lang iyan, volunteers-driven, so when they have time, they come out, kung wala, wala, and yet the numbers were very impressive kahit na ganyan. So we’re talking to the public schools and have them run this as a remedial class. Just imagine the impact. Just imagine the kids that we’re going to help  because a lot of kids that can barely read and do math are the first ones who will drop out.

Sabi ng Pratham, you cannot use TaRL because that’s South Africa and it belongs to South Africa. So we were thinking, “Ano ang name natin?” So suddenly we thought of sa atin naman, since we were teaching by the river, sa boat na nag-fo-float, mga ibang volunteer teacher nandoon, under the tree, in classrooms. So why don’t we name it “Teach Anywhere”? So that’s how the program was born. And we were so happy that with Ateneo, now we have the potential of growing this and expand this program and make it data-driven. 

Ang galing kasi ng AHA; ang ginawa nila, they took everything, localized it and even added more. Iba naman ‘yung culture natin with the Indians and South Africans, so we’re more family-oriented, so in-incorporate ‘yon. So this is really localized. I’m very excited about this because we have a potential of training teachers or even making a course out of it, and spread it all over the nation to address learning loss. Sobrang ganda, it can be a topic of a research paper, kasi most of the time when you pitch this to companies or to funders ang sasabihin nila “Wow, this is so simple. If this is so simple, how come nobody is doing it?”

“If this is working, how come no one took advantage of this?” So that’s the space we are in right now. And we were very happy when we met Father Karel. Few slides pa lang, sabi niya “Stop na. I’m all for this. So how do we go about this?” And we talked with Rogin and John, they were as excited as we are. Again, I’m talking about everything happening for the right reason. That was the perfect time that everybody comes together. And because of that, we are now in talks with Bicol University and the SDS there. We’re going to meet them and they’re going to adopt the system also. At ang buong Zamboanga Peninsula,  more or less on board na rin sila.

AHA did several trainings already for Zamboanga City and for Zamboanga Sibugay. Sobrang exciting, and timing na timing na may visions si Father Karel to launch the ALTEC, which is sa amin it provided us a home for crazy ideas because we have crazy people here also. So I can hear Kiko nodding, maybe he’s not leaving after all, he’s going to teach; after the speech of Jaton, I think he’s staying behind and do some teaching.

So this is what we’re called for and I’m very excited and very happy that when I brought this idea to a lot of people, they’re as receptive and we hope that we can get more believers in the room, get more believers in the community—because all of us— all of us will benefit from this. And if you want your child, if you want to have a better future, you know, let’s not build higher walls to be secure, let’s extend our table talaga. That’s the only way: invite more people and create more opportunities for them. That’s the time you can assure your kids and yourself of having a better future. Di naman tayo lahat pwede mag-abroad, and maganda pa rin dito; Pilipinas pa rin. So we’re doing this for everyone and we’re doing this for ourselves also.

So thank you Ateneo for giving us a home. Thank you, John Mayo, for believing in us. Si Rogin, for taking up the challenge for SUGPAT, for opening our eyes that innovative things can happen. And Father Karel, thank you very, very, much for saying yes after three slides. So it’s like competing in The Voice may pa-turn sa chair. And thank you very much for everyone here and we hope to see more of you and we hope to see more of us working towards our own future.