GRADUATES. Thirty inmates of the Baguio City Jail received their certificates of completion of elementary and junior high school education during a graduation ceremony at the jail facility on Friday (Aug. 26, 2022). Three of them completed elementary while 27 finished junior high school. (PNA photo from BCJMD)

BAGUIO CITY – Thirty persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) from the Baguio City Jail Male Dormitory (BCJMD) have graduated from elementary and junior high school under the Department of Education's Alternative Learning System (ALS) in this city.

BCJMD Jail Superintendent Mary Ann Tresmanio, said the education and skills training provided to the inmates is part of the humane safekeeping program of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.

The PDLs are trained by a group of volunteers, jail personnel with a background in education, and a fellow inmate who became a professor.

“We want that if they have the chance to be released from jail, they will be able to continue with their education and get a job because that is one way of avoiding that they commit a crime,” Tresmanio said.

"Manong," (not his real name), 57, was among those who received a certificate of completion of elementary education during a graduation ceremony on Friday at the BCJMD quadrangle.

The oldest in this year's batch of graduates, Manong said he stopped school at a young age after running away from home and landing a job as a gold miner at a private company in Baguio City.

“Dahil sa barkada kaya maaga akong lumayas ng probinsiya at nagpunta sa Baguio. Sa totoo lang, teacher ang mother ko. Lima kaming magkakapatid. Lumayas ako kaya hindi ako nakapag-aral (My mother was actually a teacher and I have four siblings. I ran away from home at an early age, went with friends to Baguio, and never finished school),” said Manong, who only finished Grade 2.

But through the DepEd's ALS, Manong was given the opportunity to resume his studies.

Holding out his certificate, Manong said: “Puwede na akong tumakbo na barangay official, marunong na akong magbasa, magsulat at mag pirma (I can already run as a village official because I already know how to read, write, and sign my name).”

The father of four said he intends to finish senior high school in jail and wants to become a security guard after.

"Mahalaga yung mag-aral kasi ang pagsisisi nasa huli at kapag matanda na kayo mahihiya na kayong mag aral. Ang pag-aaral, iyon ang pamana na hindi makukuha ng iba kasi magagamit mo iyon para sa sarili mo, hindi mabibili ng iba, hindi matutunaw tulad ng ginto, daladala mo hanggang sa pagtanda, 'pag hahanap ng trabaho, kahit saan ka pumunta, dala mo iyon (Education is important. You will never regret finishing school at a young age. Nobody can take it away from you and it won't melt away like gold. It will be with you until old age. It will help you land a job and carry it with you wherever you go),” he said.

Like Manong, Christine and Jenny (not their real names), who also completed their elementary education on Friday, were also led astray at a young age.

Asked for an advice for the youth, Christine said education should be valued more than any material thing. Jenny, meanwhile, said in Filipino: "Do not waste your chance to get the education that your parents are giving you while you are still young. Sacrifice to be educated because nobody can take that away from you.” (PNA)