Monday, November 21, 2016

In the News: School opens bright future for the underprivileged

This article originally appeared on the Philippine Star last November 21, 2016

MANILA, Philippines – High quality private education should not be a privilege reserved for the chosen few.

This is the mantra of international, non-profit low-cost private school Mano Amiga Academy, which recently opened the doors of its new campus in ParaƱaque City.
Established in 2008, Mano Amiga has one primary objective: to provide students from low-income communities education at par with the best schools in the world.
 For the past seven years, the school operated in a 300-square meter property with only three classrooms in Taguig City.Pinugu recalls her frustration at having to turn away four out of five poor pre-school age children due to capacity limitations. “The small space hindered us from growing the impact and reach of our program,” she says.

Everything changed this academic year when the school, with the help of a grant from Metro Pacific Investments Corp., acquired a 2,500-sqm. property in Better Living, ParaƱaque City. Donations from other companies such as Western Union, Manta Equities, Qualfon Philippines, Unilab and LBC also helped the school to complete the first phase of the construction of its new classroom.

 From 95 students last year, Mano Amiga almost doubled its enrolment to 171 students from Kindergarten to Grade 7 this year.  Pinugu says they intend to further scale up to accommodate up to 800 students. 
“Our new campus allows us to accept more students and help more families, and also provides us with more equipped facilities to test educational innovations and to pilot other development programs,” Pinugu said.

Innovative approach
Even with the move to a new but farther location, Mano Amiga principal Revelyn Tria-Siasoyco said majority of their students still decided to stick it out “because they believe in the unique approach of the school.”
Mano Amiga implements a K-12 approach using an international curriculum, with a pedagogical method called integral formation – an personalized approach that develops a person’s intellect, character, critical thinking and leadership abilities, among others.
With the new campus, Siasoyco said they managed to strengthen co-curricular activities as they have more space for different activities.
“To develop life-long learners, students need to associate learning with both fun and hard work. We take pride in giving our students an exciting and enriching learning experience,” she said.
Since they no longer have to conduct classes in multiple shifts, Pinugu said they piloted a project-based learning approach that would teach students practical applications of what they learn in class.
“The idea is to come up with projects that help the community. The learners, they’re empowered,” she says.

For the full story, please click on the link below:

Friday, October 7, 2016

Message from our Executive Director on Mano Amiga's 8th year Anniversary

There comes a time in every person's life when you start to question whether the path you had taken was the right one. For me, this happened in 2012 when we found out that we had to find a new location for Mano Amiga, or else we would have to close down the school for good. The community leaders we were working with suddenly decided that the school was too troublesome because of the noise level during mornings, and that the area we were occupying was better off as their homeowners association office. The news came as a heavy and humbling blow to my team. We increased student learning outcomes and access to sustainable livelihood in the area, and our school model was gaining a lot of international attention, but we could not seem to win the hearts of the people whose opinion mattered the most.

We considered taking the easy route and to just close down the school. We had already been operating for four years, and we were hopeful that we've already equipped our students with foundational skills that would allow them to thrive, whichever school they're in. What motivated us to try to continue were the pleas of the families we've been helping- their countless stories of how Mano Amiga has improved their quality of life, and their commitment to help us in whatever way they can. The best encouragement came from the students themselves who found every opportunity they could, to tell me and their teachers that they will join us wherever we transfer.

What followed were four challenging years of looking for a new area, raising a huge amount of money for the property and the building, and eventually constructing a new school despited limited financial resources. I have learned so much from this experience. The first was learning to accept one's defeats with grace, and to focus on what one could still accomplish instead of what one had lost. Perhaps the most important was learning how to trust despite the disappointments- trust in the generosity and kindness of people, trust in the fidelity of God, and trust in the wonderful surprises that any challenging situation could bring. 

Last September, we found ourselves celebrating Mano Amiga's 8th year anniversary, not anymore in a small makeshift building, but in a spacious campus that could accommodate over 800 students. And though many challenges still lie ahead, we look back with pride and gratitude for what we have overcome, and look forward to the future with continued zeal and enthusiasm.

Once again, we thank you for your constant trust and support.


Eleanor I. Pinugu
Executive Director
Mano Amiga Academy, inc.

Learning Through Exploration: The PBL Approach

Project-based learning is the immediate application of what they learned in the classroom in which they develop critical thinking, communication, and collaboration. The students work in groups to collectively solve challenging problems that are relevant in their immediate environment, community, and country. Through this 21st-century learning approach, the students help propose and solve problems that are all authentic, curriculum-based and interdisciplinary as it touches on several subject areas.
This year, Mano Amiga students will have two PBL projects per quarter where in they will get a chance to brainstorm solutions for different problems in their community, using knowledge and concepts they learned in the classroom.

Through the PBL activities, various experts have selflessly volunteered their time to share their experience in their respective fields.  Last week, Lance, a segment producer of TV 5, taught Gr. 4 students about producing videos to give helpful tips to  students who are currently making webisodes about Science experiments, as part of their PBL project. 
Lance, Segment Producer of TV5 teaching students about production in one of the PBL classes

Thursday, August 18, 2016

WE MADE IT! Mano Amiga's new campus finally opens

Mano Amiga Academy’s permanent campus in Paranaque City has finally opened its doors to 173 students from Kinder to the 7th Grade last August 30, 2016! Though the school is a work in progress, the students have been enjoying the larger classrooms and new facilities. 

Thank you for making this possible for the children and their families. Your impact has gone a long way!

Though classes have started, a lot work remains to be done. To reach more students by the next school year, we are still raising P35,000,000 to build a library, a technology-enabled classroom, chapel, sports complex, and cafeteria and livelihood center. 

There is still much to be accomplished & more children to help as we complete the new Mano Amiga campus. For updates or inquiries on how to donate for the construction, please get in touch with us

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Vision for the future

LivPH chats with our Founder and Executive Director Lynn Pinugu, about the long-term vision for Mano Amiga Academy. 

What is the Mano Amiga Program?
Mano Amiga is a school that provides an international standard of education in a way that's affordable for low-income and middle families. Our dream is for every child in the Philippines, no matter what their socio-economic background is, to receive quality education and the necessary support in order for them to build better lives for themselves and contribute positively in society. More than just a school, we also serve as a community development center. We also provide our students and their families access to healthcare, values formation programs and livelihood opportunities.

What is the organization's long-term vision?
We envision Mano Amiga to be a center for educational innovations - a school that makes learning fun while focusing on teaching the skills that a child would need to thrive in the creative revolution. We would also like to be known as a Center for excellence in teacher training, particularly on how to effectively facilitate a class through engaging activities and projects. Lastly, we hope to replicate our success in our pilot school to at least 20 other locations in the Philippines.

How can people help?
So many families apply to our school for a full-year scholarship, but due to limited funds, we can only accept a number of them. Those interested to help financially may do so by providing scholarships to our students. It takes about P300 a month to send a student to Mano Amiga Academy.
People may also choose to donate their time, and to share with our students (and staff) whatever skills or talents they may have. We are always looking for role models who would be willing to mentor our students. It goes a long way in making a lasting positive impact on a child’s life.