Windel Alvarez

Caramoan District, Philippines

Windel  Alvarez

Windel was inspired to pursue education in part due to his father’s painful experience of dropping out of high school. As a single parent with five children, his father could not afford the financial commitments for higher education, and Windel had to abandon his university studies after just one year. Realising that education was a necessary first step to escape poverty, Windel decided to support himself through his studies, earning a degree in Education and passing the Licensure Examination for Teachers in 2005.

Windel now works as a Mobile Teacher for the Alternative Learning System (ALS). This is a parallel learning system in the Philippines that provides a practical alternative to school instruction, teaching subjects and skills through both formal and informal means. With an emphasis on teaching out-of-school children, as well as adults who may have had little education, ALS takes learning to underprivileged and marginalized areas of the country. In the Caramoan district that Windel covers, many do not have the chance to attend and finish formal basic education because access to transportation is difficult – and some young people cannot write their own name. The region includes a number of poor coastal communities whose only means of livelihood is fishing: gaining access often involves negotiating mountainous paths, crossing rivers and trekking distances, but these obstacles have not dampened Windel’s enthusiasm.

As well as basic education, Windel teaches health and sanitation, financial literacy, tree planting and environmental care. Between 2011 and 2018, he helped 126 students pass the ALS Accreditation and Equivalency Test for elementary and secondary level. But beyond his one-to-one teaching efforts, Windel has worked hard to bring key resources to the students in his area. In 2012, he fought to get a testing centre opened for certain key districts in Caramoan: within four years, 889 people sat exams and 415 passed – the best success rate in the region. Windel’s desire to help people in the area of Lipata also gave birth to the ALS-Bangkarunugan Project – a mobile learning centre loaded with instructional materials and equipment for students who live near the seashore. His achievements have been recognised with the 2018 Civil Service Commission Outstanding Government Worker award and the 2018 National Alternative Learning System Teacher Achievement award.

With the Global Teacher Prize money, Windel would sustain the projects he has cultivated in the communities he serves, including those aimed at reading skills, business and eco-tourism. He would also improve an old community learning centre in a key location and convert it into a functional library.