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Volunteer for the Visayans

Rural Elementary School Teacher

Given the dire condition of our rural elementary schools, you will be providing valuable support to overburdened teachers and mentor eager-to-learn Filipino children.

About the Program

You will be of great use to rural schools if you decide to volunteer to teach English in the Philippines. There is a strong national emphasis on the importance of being able to speak, read and write English as all good jobs require proficiency in English. Learning English is incredibly important and getting off to a good start in elementary school is critical. Unfortunately, many rural elementary schools are overcrowded and lack sufficient textbooks and teaching material. Often, the only classroom equipment available is a blackboard. Children are often squeezed into small classrooms, and most schools do not have a library.

The teachers at these rural schools by and large are capable and are incredibly dedicated. Like teachers elsewhere, they often have to use personal funds to purchase classroom supplies. However, teachers in the Philippines like those in most other developing countries are not well paid and can ill-afford to use their own funds. 

The low salaries and poor working conditions have led many experienced teachers to quit and work abroad, where salaries are much higher. Some of the teachers you will work with may not be fully proficient in English, even though they have good teaching skills; professional development opportunities are very limited for them. A native English speaking volunteer, who lacks teaching experience, could team up with that teacher to serve as a language tutor.

Most subjects, including mathematics and science, are taught in English. Volunteers who can also teach those subjects as preferred. There's also an increasing need for Music teachers who can teach the children how to play different musical instruments or how to sing as these kids are very much interested in those fields and have also hidden talents when it comes to music.

Why We Need You?

Given the dire condition of our rural elementary schools, you will be providing valuable support to overburdened teachers. With respect to the children, most of them have had very little contact with foreigners so they will be very interested in a new volunteer. Filipino students are eager learners and respectful towards their teachers, but like students elsewhere, they will lose interest unless they can be engaged and stimulated by the instructor.

The students have grown up speaking Waray-Waray, the local dialect, and will have to contend with learning two other languages, English and Filipino, the national language, in school. That’s a lot to ask of young children, especially the students in our rural school who have little opportunity to speak Filipino or English outside of the classroom. Your objective should not be to teach the intricacies of grammar; this is something the children can get from their textbook. Your objective should be to motivate the children to learn English. As educators are aware, students can best be engaged when lessons are organized, relevant, challenging, interesting, and interactive, and also when the instructor is enthusiastic, emphatic, and encouraging.

Duties will depend on the volunteer’s experience and skill level as well as classroom needs, but may include developing lesson plans, conducting classes, and working with small groups of children. Non-professional volunteers may assume duties as teaching assistants, language models, and individual or small group tutors. It would be helpful if volunteers brought their own instructional aids, such as hand puppets (for interactional skits), flash cards, posters and other lightweight material that can fit in a suitcase.

Please understand that placements can vary due to local changes and as a volunteer you are expected to help out where needed, as well as achieving some of your own personal goals.  Flexibility is expected as needs change and situations arise. 

While you are in the Philippines you should be prepared to work with the local project team to make your placement as successful as possible. Good attendance, a great attitude and the willingness to exchange ideas and skills with those you work alongside, will go a long way to making your volunteering placement a success.

Project Profile

The rural elementary schools are located in the rural villages of Tacloban City's neighboring towns of Palo and Tanauan. Canggumbang Elementary School is located in Palo, the town next to Tacloban City while Mohon and Tugop Elementary Schools are located in Tananuan, a town next to Palo. They can be reached via jeepney. Travel time is between 40-60 minutes depending on the pace of the vehicle.These are all government elementary schools under the supervision of the Department of Education.

The school staff is composed of the school principal or head teacher and grade school teachers including the kindergarten teacher. For concerns while on the project, it is recommended that the volunteer speak with any of the teachers, in particular the homeroom teacher of the class he/she will be handling.

These schools are open to provide education to children from kindergarten to sixth grade. Children in kindergarten can be as young as 5 years old. Average age for first graders is 7, second graders 8, third graders 9, fourth graders 10, fifth graders 11, and sixth graders 12. The fifth and sixth graders are sometimes combined into one class due to lack of teaching staff.

There may be children older or younger than their classmates in a particular class. Some children attend school at an earlier age, some late, or others even skip school for a year or so.

Purpose of the program

Volunteer for the Visayans opened the teaching project to provide support to the school. There is only one teacher per class handling several subjects in a day. Class population varies but usually between 25-35 in rural areas. The subjects the teacher handles include Math, Science, English, Physical Education, History, Music. Class is open from Monday to Friday except during holidays and school activities. Class starts at around 8:00 am, pause for lunch break at 12:00 noon and resumes at 1:00 pm to close at 4:00 pm.

As a placement, the school benefits from having an extra teacher who can help in teaching English, Math, Science, or Music depending on the preference of the volunteer. Having a foreign volunteer who speaks English is useful as it gives the children the chance to learn and practice the language. In the Philippines, a good grasp of the English language is an advantage in employment. At the same time, the volunteer serves as role model and inspire these children study for a better future. On a different note, a volunteer helps reduce the homeroom teacher’s load. When a volunteer is present, the teacher finds the time to do other tasks such as writing reports. 

Role of the Volunteer

The volunteer’s role is in fact not as teacher assistant but as the actual classroom teacher. He/she replaces the local teacher for a particular period of time daily. The local teacher may or may not be in the classroom while the volunteer is conducting class. Often times, the local teacher will be working on something else while the volunteer is holding classes. 

The volunteer is required to work from Monday to Friday for at least 4 hours. Normally volunteers report to work in the morning from 8:00 am until 12:00 noon. A few volunteers would sometimes extend their time to teach in the afternoon as well.

The volunteer’s role is to teach his/her class with his/her preferred subject, e.g. English. He/she has to prepare his/her lessons before coming to class. At the beginning before officially working, the volunteer will visit the school for the placement orientation. During this time, the volunteer will be provided an outline of the topics to be discussed. It is up to the volunteer to prepare the lessons and deliver them in class.

The school has no references the volunteer can use to he/she has to rely on the internet. The volunteer can utilize the free afternoon to prepare lessons for the following day. The VFV has internet connection so the volunteer can have access to it. However, too often connection at the office can be slow especially if too many volunteers are using it at the same time so another option is to visit an internet café.

The volunteer must provide his/her own teaching materials because the school has limited resources.

The volunteer must not be surprised to see some of his/her students come to class without pen or paper. Some of the children who attend the class come from poor families.

Dress Code

To conform with the Filipino conservative culture and to look professional, volunteers must dress modestly. The volunteer must report to work wearing the appropriate clothes.

Top must consist of shirt of blouse or t-shirt with sleeves. No singlet or tank top. Top should not have plunging neckline. Bottom wear must be long pants or knee-length skirt. Footwear must be shoes or sandals.

Outside work, a volunteer can wear more comfortable article of clothing such as shorts and tank tops and wear flip flops.

Transportation to the Placement

During placement, the volunteer will take public transportation. Please be patient when traveling between home and placement. Rural Elementary Schools can be reached in about 40 minutes to 1 hour depending on the distance from Bliss but waiting for a jeepney and motorcycle “habal-habal” or tricycle can take longer than 10 minutes. There is no specific schedule for a jeepney’s, motorcycle’s or tricycle’s trip. Jeepneys just come along anytime, hence a time should be allotted in waiting for them.  

Jeepneys normally stop quite often in its route to pick up or drop off passengers. Motorcycle and tricycles wait for as many passengers to fill up the vehicle before leaving the terminal.

Jeepney and tricycle fares ranges from 0.20 to 0.30 USD depending on the distance. Volunteers will be briefed on getting to placement and back to Tacloban during the placement orientation at the beginning of the program.

Suitable for

Singles
Couples
Families
Groups
50+

Typical day

A typical day for a volunteer doing the teaching project starts as early 7:00 am allowing just enough time for the commute going to the school and make it punctually to the start of morning classes which is 8:00 am. 

A volunteer is expected to be prepared with the lessons he/she are going to teach for the day as well as with whatever teaching materials he/she can provide for the kids. One hour is allotted for each subject and the volunteer may choose between teaching a maximum of 3 grade levels for a single subject or 3 subjects for a single grade level maximizing the 4-hour working time he or she has. 

The school observes a 15-minute recess time which is usually set at 9:30 am where the kids as well as the teachers can have snacks. Classes resume after recess and ends at 12:00 noon. 

The teacher in charge of the class will always be around to assist the volunteer in handling the class both in the aspects of teaching and in managing the behavior of the kids as well if they misbehave or do not pay attention. Using interactive teaching methods or visual aids would be very much helpful in catching the kids' interest and ultimately attaining teaching objectives. 

The kids at the school are generally polite, sweet, friendly and eager to learn. They will always address the volunteer as Sir or Ma'am the way they address their teachers. The principal or the school head and the teachers are also as polite, sweet and friendly as the kids. In other words, the working environment provides for a great and fulfilling volunteering experience for people who loves teaching and mentoring the youth. 

After classes, the volunteer is now free to head back to the city to have lunch, rest, and prepare again for the next day.

Details on Arrival

Volunteers can apply anytime except for the months of April and May which is summer break and Mid-October and Mid-December which are semestral break and Christmas break respectively. They may choose to arrive at anytime of their convenience and a volunteer coordinator is always available to pick them up at the airport. 


Pre-departure information is sent during application process and an in-depth program orientation is also conducted upon arrival. The project may start at once the following day after arrival and follows the same schedule as the rural school classes which is Monday to Friday, 8:00 am until 5:00 pm.

Program Requirements

In order to join the program you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date. There might be exemptions if you can provide the permission of your legal guardian(s). Of course, there is an exception for children that are accompanied by their parents.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (basic level)
Health Declaration
required
Criminal Background Check
required
Education Requirements
English, Mathematics, Science, Music at Highschool level
Required Documents
CV with photo, Passport and Police Check and and Character References
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
Teaching experience and TEFL certification are preferred but is not required. Native English speakers are preferred; however, non-native English speakers who speak English well and can teach mathematics and science in English are needed. Music teachers who are naturally gifted with talents in singing or playing musical instruments are also preferred.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 08:00 - 17:00

Any questions? Just ask. We at Volunteer for the Visayans are happy to help you.

Contact Project Coordinator

Free-time activities

Our volunteers can use their free time either for their personal activities or for organizing side projects with our sponsored kids, with the Boys and Girls Club or with the moms under our Laura's Craft and Mother's Club. 

The former may include a trip to some of the beautiful white-sand beaches and sandbars, islands, waterfalls, underground river, surf camps, and caves found in the region while the latter can include baking sessions with the local moms, dance tutorials with the teens, or teaching any other craft or life skills to the locals. 

Our volunteers would usually organize those activities as a group during long weekends or holidays. We also have our Volunteer's Lounge which has wi-fi and where volunteers can hang around with fellow volunteers. They can also use the lounge for a movie night once a week. 

Water Sports
Swimming
Concert/Music
Diving/Snorkling
Climbing
Hiking
Sports
Yoga/Meditation
Contact & Reservation
$187
/week
$187
/week
4 - 12
weeks
4 - 12
weeks
18+
age
18+
age
Airport Pickup
Housing
Food
Internet
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Included Services

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We refund your fees if Volunteer for the Visayans cancels your trip
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Services by Volunteer for the Visayans
Included in the Program Fee are the following:

  • Airport Reception and Drop-off
  • Accommodation with Local Host Family with 2 meals a day (breakfast and dinner)
  • Comprehensive Program Orientation
  • Basic Waray-Waray Language Lesson
  • Volunteers Excursion
  • Project Tour
  • 24-hour Local Staff Support
Airport Pickup at Ninoy Aquino International
Upon arrival in Tacloban, a coordinator will meet you at the airport and introduce you to the rest of the VFV staff and your homestay family. After this you will be provided with a full orientation on Volunteer for the Visayans as well as a short comprehensive health and safety briefing.

Following this, you will be escorted by one of our coordinators and shown how to use the local transport system. You will be shown how to get back and forth from your volunteer placement as well as being briefed on how to get to a variety of different points of interest.
Accommodation

Volunteers assigned to our Tacloban area projects will be placed with homestays in Bliss, where we are located. Bliss is a congested, low-income neighborhood but it has a low crime rate and is safe. There is strong community cohesion and pride, and the neighborhood homes and surroundings are relatively well-maintained. Our community center is located in the middle of Bliss. 

An adjacent basketball court area serves as a gathering place for the community. Here you’ll see youth playing basketball; tethered cocks staking out their territories on the sidelines; children keeping busy; adults sitting on benches, exchanges stories; slabs of meat being cut on portable tables; and vendors selling their wares.

Most of our homestay families have been with us for many years and are experienced in working with international volunteers. They take pride in their role and view the volunteer as a valued member of the family. They want volunteers to experience Filipino culture and participate in the family’s daily activities as well as special celebrations that come up. 

All homes have electricity and running water. You will have a private bedroom for you alone or that you share with another volunteer, and you will sleep under a mosquito net. A fan will be provided as none of the homes are air-conditioned. There is just one bathroom in the house that is shared by all family members. Your home will be safe, clean and comfortable, but living conditions will be much lower than in developed country.

The bathroom accommodations, in particular, are very basic and volunteers will be taking cold water, bucket baths. Because the weather in the Philippines is tropical, volunteers typically say that the cold water baths have been refreshing. However, each person needs to consider whether these conditions will be acceptable. 

There will be other things to adjust to, including the neighborhood roosters who will announce the start of a new day with pre-dawn crowing. You will be taken out of your comfort zone, at least initially. Most volunteer report they adjusted fairly quickly to these conditions.

Guest Family
Food & Beverages

You will eat the same local food as the family (though the homestay parents know what foreigners typically enjoy). Homestays can cater to the special dietary requirements of some volunteers, so please include this in your application form. You will also be provided with filtered water to drink, as it would be best for travellers to be cautious and not drink tap water.

You will be provided with two meals a day (breakfast and dinner) by your homestay. All meals will be served with rice and typically include fish, chicken or pork. 

Local café’s and restaurants can also be found all over the city, with most meals costing from around 2 USD to 6 USD. Bottled water is also available in most food establishments and in grocery stores.

Internet Access
Limited access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees.

No worries, Volunteer World supports you in raising funds, checking your visa regulations and travel insurance. We also assist you in finding the cheapest flights for your journey.
Costs (Prices in USD)
4 weeks (min. stay)
$960.00
5 weeks
$1,040.00
6 weeks
$1,120.00
7 weeks
$1,200.00
8 weeks
$1,280.00
9 weeks
$1,360.00
12 weeks (max. stay)
$1,600.00
Average fees
$187.00/week

You can volunteer at the project site in Tacloban City/Philippines between 4 weeks and 12 weeks. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. Volunteer for the Visayans will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment will be agreed with Volunteer for the Visayans during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

Get ready to volunteer in Philippines

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Visa Regulations
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Travel Seasons
Find out the best time to volunteer in Philippines and receive information on weather and climatic conditions.
Living Costs
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Budgeting
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What's next?

Airport
The nearest airport is Ninoy Aquino International (MNL) in Manila. We assist you to find cheap flights to Philippines.
Travel Insurance
Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for Philippines provides security and is a plus to have.
Vaccine Checker
If you are intending to volunteer in Philippines you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Philippines.
Free-time
What can you do in leisure-time in Philippines while you are not working at your volunteer opportunity?
Lot 63, Cluster 2, Barangay 64, Bliss, Sagkahan, 6500 Tacloban City, Philippines zoom="6"

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