"School-on-the-air" empowers women street vendors in Siaton

About 150 women peddlers in the municipality of Siaton participated in Tunghaan sa Kahanginan (“school-onthe-air”), a research-based extension project of the university that tries to educate marginalized women of their rights, roles, and responsibilities as vendors that include matters of public health and food safety.

Adapting to an alternative medium of learning, these women vendors tune in to a radio station from Monday to Friday at 11:00 to 12:00 noon to listen to the given topic of the day’s broadcast while onsite making a living. The participants interact with the lecturers using their mobile phones and answer the topic questions or quizzes with pen and paper, which are collected by the extension staff or which they can deposit into a designated drop box located by the campus guard house at the end of the program.

The idea of employing a school-on-the-air approach sprang from a research, entitled, “Awareness and Preparedness to Natural Disasters Among Filipino Female Street Vendors” conducted by Dr. Marilyn Macapangal and Dr. Pedrina Patron.

The study showed that women vendors, who are mostly in their middle age and married with children, are vulnerable to natural disasters hence a major recommendation is to empower them through an alternative education method.

Subject matter experts are invited to discuss through a live radio broadcast topics on the rights of women in their public and political life, their right to adequate standard of living, their rights in conflict and crisis, their right to education, the role of women in moderating crisis, the issues on violence against women and children, women's access to justice, the responsibilities of street vendors to customers, and many more.

Implemented by selected faculty and students of NORSUSiaton Campus, NORSU-Bayawan-Sta. Catalina Campus, and NORSU-Main Campus's Graduate School for five months last year, this research-based extension program also involved a donation of transistor radio units to the beneficiaries. The project facilitators are deployed in the area to monitor the conduct of the activity.

Aside from the local government unit of Siaton along with its disaster risk reduction and management section, health unit, and social welfare development office, the project was also supported by DyRA 94.5 Radio Station, other local and national government agencies (NGAs).

These NGAs include Basay Fire Protection Department, DENR, DOLE, DSWD, CHR, DOST, DILG, TESDA and PNP; and civic organizations such as Violence Against Women Commission, Red Cross, a group of private lawyer volunteers, and NORSU-CBA Alumni Association.