Initiative offers tutoring to public schools’ ‘slow learners’

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Students under the Couples for Christ's Cornerstone program also receive regular formation from CFC-Youth for Christ volunteers. (Photo: Ruel Tenerife)

MANILA, Oct. 20, 2016 – The typical Saturdays of many CFC – Singles for Christ (CFC-SFC) members of East-B changed forever once they started volunteering to tutor selected students from several public elementary schools in Antipolo, Marikina, San Mateo, and Montalban.

For nearly 3 hours, youth and singles tutor an estimated 150 grade II to III students academically categorized as “slow readers”, as part of the lay Catholic community Couples for Christ (CFC) initiative Cornerstone.

“It’s hard to measure the fruits outside the program, but we see to it that these children will be part of the community through KFC (Kids for Christ) after the school year. [According to] the school, however, we have feedback from teachers that some children are getting better not only academically but has also [have] improved behavior,” shared Ruel Tenerife program head of Cornerstone – East B, who oversees 5 schools in Antipolo, Marikina, San Mateo, and Montalban where Cornerstone is present.

Community effort

Before becoming a Cornerstone volunteer, each person undergoes the whole day volunteers’ training, which typically has 4 sessions. With volunteers mostly coming from the CFC community, every school falls under a designated CFC cluster, one of the larger organizational units of CFC.

According to Tenerife, who with his partner, Karen Lorico, does weekly school visits, monitors attendance and the progress of modules as well as tutees’ school supplies, each CFC ministry plays a role in the program.

CFC – YFC, the ministry for young people from 13 to 21-years old, handles the kids’ values formation. CFC – SFC, for working age singles, takes charge of the actual tutorials. CFC manages the feeding program for the students. Handmaids of the Lord (HOLD), the ministry for widows and wives whose husbands are abroad or who for one reason or another is not part of the community, and Servants of the Lord (SOLD), the male counterpart of HOLD, run the parents’ values formation and livelihood program.

An estimated 5,500 public school students all over the Philippines receive tutoring from youth volunteers of the Cornerstone program. (Photo: Ruel Tenerife)

The Cornerstone experience is a hybrid immersion program that calls for a more continuous commitment, not to mention one that has its own share of tear-jerking revelations, shared Tenerife.

On fire to serve

“I asked my kid what he wanted to be when he grow up, he answered me with the most honest answer, he wanted to be a sabungero (cockfight gambler). I was really shocked and sad, made me realized so many things, does his family a sabungero or knows that he want to be one? Is this influence of the community? … I learned that he has this idea of how life would become once he failed to graduate. With low self-esteem because of being bullied about his grade, he branded himself … a loser,” shared Tenerife, who realized Cornerstone’s significance all the more because of encounters like this.

He said: “After that small moment, it made me feel there are more children that [have] the same problem and situation that made me become on fire [for] this service.”

Cornerstone is present all over the Philippines and benefits some 5, 550 students in 68 schools in Metro Manila and 117 schools in the provinces.

Parties interested to volunteer or to donate to Cornerstone in East B may contact its organizers via its FB page, https://www.facebook.com/CornerstoneEastB/ and Cornerstone at the national level via https://www.facebook.com/CFCCornerstone/ (Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz / CBCPNews)

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