Summer Research Fellowship Explores Education for Development in the Philippines

Pragyan Kumar Acharya, a fourth-year Nepali undergraduate student recently returned from a research trip to the Philippines.

He was studying how Jesuit educators advance sustainable community development by adopting and expanding on the Alternative Learning System, a practical education alternative for those left behind by the country’s existing formal instruction.

With the support of an Education and Social Justice Summer Research Fellowship awarded by Georgetown University’s Berkley Center Berkley Center and the Center for Social Justice Teaching, Research, and Service in Washington, DC, Pragyan researched an innovative project at Xavier University called the Night School Program which provides a chance for out-of-school youths and adults to attain basic education and functional literacy, and pass requirements to earn a diploma or certificate equivalent to formal schooling.

Photo (L-R): Ismael Salarda, Director, Arrupe Educational Center and XU Night School Program; Michael Marcial, teacher; Pragyan Acharya (SFS’24), Fr. Mars Tan, SJ; Xavier Ateneo, University President; Dexter Lo, VP for Social Development; Dr. Edralin Manla, Dean, School of Education; and Nathalie Grace Elena, XU Night School Project Staff. Photo Credit: Xavier University

“Access to education is a crucial tool for breaking the cycle of poverty. Community-level initiatives offer critical opportunities to fill the education gap,” said Pragyan. “However, research on their effectiveness is lacking, and I hoped to learn more about Alternative Learning Systems, and how informal education alternatives can augment the gap in formal education.”

During his fellowship, Pragyan, who’s majoring in International Politics and minoring in Education, met with learners, volunteer pre-service teachers, professional teachers from the Department of Education, university administrators, and partners. Through his interviews and observations, Pragyan aimed to gain insights into the program’s social impact and its contributions to education, poverty reduction, and overall well-being in Cagayan de Oro City.

Before the fieldwork, Pragyan received training and support, and during the fall semester, he will create an online report of his findings. “I am currently transcribing and coding my interviews and will be presenting preliminary findings at the Social Justice Research Symposium next month.”

Photo: Pragyan interviews Jerome Torres, founder of the XU Night School Program. Photo credit: Xavier University

“I realized how similar life, poverty, economy, social services, and infrastructure there was to my homeland in Nepal,” noted Pragyan. “In that context, I recognized both the importance of sharing knowledge and expertise and global support and solidarity.”

Photo: At the end of his research, Pragyan presented his experiences, insights and reflections to Xavier University faculty and administrators.

Photo credit: Xavier University

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