“I believe that education is the most powerful weapon to combat illiteracy,” Ma. Concepcion Somodio, the designated District Alternative Learning System Coordinator (DALSC) of District V in Cotabato City, said when asked what drives her passion for teaching.
This is also the reason why she is determined and willing to ride the banca daily on her way to Sitio Kidpo, Kalangan I, Cotabato City, despite issues in security.
“It is heartbreaking to learn that there are many out-of-school youth in Sitio Kidpo,” Somodio shared. “I planned to conduct literacy mapping and deliver ALS interventions, but we could not easily penetrate the area for security reasons. There is a leader whom they refer to as ‘commander,’ the one who controls or prohibits newcomers and strangers in the area,” she continued.
But Somodio did not back down. She reached out to and coordinated with the local government unit, until she was finally given clearance to conduct ALS sessions by the barangay chairman of Kalangan I in 2016.
Somodio and her fellow ALS implementers then trooped to Sitio Kidpo to meet the purok leader, who was referred to them as their contact person by the barangay chairman. They then proceeded to conduct literacy mapping.
“We were very careful and courteous in the area because were warned that it is off-limits. The only tool we brought to every house we visited was our greeting of “Assalamu Alaikum,” which means we are bringing peace and goodwill. We made them understand that we are teachers from DepEd - Cotabato City, and that our main purpose is to bring education,” Somodio relayed.
Because of Somodio’s commitment and perseverance, ALS sessions are now ongoing in the area. Through mobilization efforts, the learners, who used to be out-of-school, even received school supplies and clothing from Mindanao Youth for Development during the Brigada Eskwela in 2017. They are now gearing up for the ALS Accreditation and Equivalency (A&E) Test.