Filipino educator is CNN Hero of the Year

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Hope. Ingenuity. A vision for the youth.

These are some things that led a Filipino to plumb a most desperate situation in Philippine society and brought him to a most honoured position as this year’s CNN Hero of the Year.

Educator Efren Peñaflorida topped the online voting for the title that came with a $100,000 cash prize for his unique “Kariton Klasrum” project. The novel teaching idea aims to teach reading and writing to less-privileged, out-of-school Filipino youth by bringing educational materials to them in a pushcart. The pushcart classroom also teaches kids mathematics, english, and science.

The Filipino hero, who bested nine other nominees from different countries all around the world after being selected by 14 “Blue Panel” luminaries, received the award from American actress Eva Mendes during the awarding ceremony.

Peñaflorida, the first Filipino to be nominated for the annual CNN search for heroes, is also the founder of the Dynamic Teen Company (DTC) which brings together youth who participation in conducting the Kariton Klasrum program which has already spread to Cavite.

Peñaflorida’s appreciation speech, according to CNN report, included various inspirational snippets. “Our planet is filled with heroes, young and old, rich and poor, man, woman of different colours, shapes and sizes. We are one great tapestry. Each person has a hidden hero within, you just have to look inside you and search it in your heart, and be the hero to the next one in need.

“So to each and every person inside in this theatre and for those who are watching at home, the hero in you is waiting to be unleashed. Serve, serve well, serve others above yourself and be happy to serve. As I always tell to my co-volunteers … you are the change that you dream as I am the change that I dream and collectively we are the change that this world needs to be.”

In an interview with ABS-CBN’s “TV Patrol World”, Peñaflorida said that he will continue his program even after winning the award, holding weekly lessons with his students and even trying to expand the program.

He said that part of the monetary award he got from the search is already earmarked for build an educational institution which will further his Kariton Klasrum’s aims to provide an alternative way of providing education to underprivileged children.

The volunteers of his DTC group are also busy training new volunteers for the Kariton Klasrum.

Peñaflorida also said that he is willing—and eager—for other groups to replicate his program in other parts of the Philippines as an alternate way to make education available to the Filipino children until a better and more equitable educational system can be established in the country.

Meanwhile, an article from the Philippine Daily Inquirer said that other youth organisations in Davao, Zamboanga, and Metro Manila.

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