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'Balsa-basa' educator from Sorsogon honored as one of 'Many Faces of Teachers'

LEGAZPI CITY -- Ryan Homan, a teacher from Donsol, Sorsogon, was honored by an education development organization as one of the “many faces of teachers” for his novel community reading projects, among them a “balsa-basa” initiative that brings together poor children from the hinterland for weekend reading classes on a raft.

Homan, 31, a school principal of San Jose Elementary School in Donsol, was honored last week as one of the four winners across the country of Bato Balani Foundation’s “Many Faces of the Teachers” project.

According to Ruby K. Austria, PR consultant of Diwa Learning Systems and Bato Balani Foundation, Homan was recognized for his notable project aimed at uplifting the reading habit and knowledge of poor children in the far-flung villages of Donsol.

“This educator went to great lengths just to teach the children in his community how to read. To date, he has involved students, parents and teachers in his school and community-based reading crusade,” she said.

Homan, son of the village chief in Barangay San Jose in Donsol, who has made it his mission to spend extra time with kids who need a little more help with their lessons, conceptualized three reading projects in 2013.

One of these is the “walk for knowledge,” in which the teachers take a long walk to reach a student’s house for tutorials while another is the “bankaaraman,” wherein a student’s house is reached through a boat.

The third concept is the “balsa-basa,” coined from the Filipino words “balsa” (raft) and “basa” (read) whereby the raft picks up the pupils from their houses along the river. For around five hours in the morning, Homan and a co-teacher read books to the children and teach them lessons.

At the San Jose Elementary School, the pupils have reading stations with different challenges such as a word hunt or a reading bingo to make reading also fun for the children.

Homan also introduced home-based reading corners wherein households are encouraged to have reading corners for children.

Educo Foundation, a non-governmental organization here in Legazpi, which aims to improve education in the countryside, and the Department of Education in Bicol have also commended Homan for his innovative reading projects.

Homan said he plans to conduct a seminar-orientation for other public schools about his undertakings “to inspire them to do something that will change the lives of the Filipino youth.”

Austria said aside from Homan, who was cited as a “reading innovator,” Batobalani’s other three winners were “community biochemist Vivian Topor, guitar maestro Jose Valdez and values advocate Suzanne Rivera.” (by Rhaydz Barcia, PNA)


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