As published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on 08 January 2011
MICHELLE RHEE, former chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools and one of Time Magazine’s 11 Education Activists for 2011, said that “teachers all think that they have a right to be in the classroom, to get paid even if they do wrong, to be secure in their jobs because of the role they play in society. But teachers have to be accountable too. It is a privilege to educate children.”
The Metrobank Foundation, PLDT Smart Foundation and the Bato Balani Foundation, all have programs that focus on giving recognition to our teachers. The Foundation for Worldwide People Power has a Mentoring the Mentors program to enhance teaching skills. The annual My Teacher, My Hero campaign is the largest private sector effort to recognize the value of the teaching profession. Without quality teachers, and teachers who believe they are accountable and that they are truly responsible for the education of our nation’s future, we cannot have good schools and good students. Teachers are the driving force behind our education system.
Today we live in a world of information and a society focused on innovation, technology, entrepreneurship and services. Are we producing graduates that can adapt to the changing needs of society and industry today? Are we teaching our students what they need to learn to be able to be productive citizens and members of society? Do our high school graduates possess the skills needed for vocational jobs and services? Are our college graduates ready to be employed or do they need to spend another six months on improving verbal and communication skills? What kind of curriculum or mode of learning is needed to make our graduates globally competitive?
Creating new modes of learning outside of the classroom, where students can enhance their creativity and critical thinking skills and the use of technology through eLearning, are some of the steps needed to move forward in creating a new learning environment for our students. Each student has different learning needs that need to be met. Whether in arts, technology, business, services or manufacturing, we need to understand how methods for learning are changing and how we can develop and create programs in our public schools that can address global and societal demand. Community livelihood programs can be expanded to include introductory learning programs for students in arts and sciences.
The Department of Education’s planned shift to K+12 seeks to enhance the current curriculum and allow high school graduates to specialize and be equipped with skills to enter industry, a vocation or engage in entrepreneurial activity. Though reforms have been discussed since the Unesco Mission survey in 1949, it is only now that definite action on K+12 is being taken to move our education system up to international standards. But this does not end here. The move to K+12 is a gradual process that will need the time and commitment of all stakeholders, especially parents and teachers, because this kind of reform is not focused on one area alone but involves cohesive action from all sectors to address the needs of their communities.
We’ve heard the argument on the effectiveness of K+12 if the students don’t even have tables to work on, or can’t even get to school because of poor infrastructure. These are programs that the private sector, through civil society, is actively working on with the help of the government. Local government units have a large role in making sure that the educational needs of their communities are met. The Synergia Foundation has been effective in working with LGUs to improve their communities.
Are we ready for eLearning? Maybe yes, or maybe no, but if we don’t prepare for it now we will never be. The technology and the infrastructure have been introduced to the public schools through Gilas, a public-private sector initiative that has been at the forefront of providing computers and Internet connectivity to public schools nationwide. Through Gilas many teachers and students have been trained on the use of technology for learning. An eLearning program called Genyo has proven an effective tool for public school teachers and students. The software is currently being used in private schools and has been donated to public schools through Gilas and the initiative of private foundations.
The DepEd meanwhile has embarked on an ambitious program that aims to improve access to eLearning in public high schools. It will also endeavor to provide all students with laptops.
Despite the many challenges that K+12 and eLearning will face, we have to be consistent and committed in our support for this to ensure that reforms in the quality of education will be addressed. We must start developing programs that will create learning environments in the communities we serve and the industries we are in. We, in the private and education reform sector, must work hand-in-hand with the government to ensure that support is given for the programs that will be implemented in the next six years to ensure the future of education in our country.
Ching Jorge (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the vice president of Bato Balani Foundation, Young Public Servants lead convenor and an associate fellow of the Asia Society.
More details to follow as the date approaches!
Filipino teachers are more than just plain civil servants. They are mentors and guidance counselors, second parents and friends. They hold in their hands the minds, attitudes and values of future generations.
Though we put so much importance on the quality and standards of education in our country, it seems that an education degree is less desirable compared to other more sought-after college courses. This is a challenge by itself and every year many NGO’s and foundations seek to inspire more students to go into the teaching profession and for more teachers to undergo the training that is needed to improve their skills through various programs.
One such activity is “The Many Faces of the Teacher”. It is a search for the teacher that best represents the nobility of the teaching profession and who garners the inspiration not only of his students but of each person and life that they encounter.
The search and the careful selection of each year’s nominees and finalists have beome a major program of the Bato Balani Foundation Inc (BBFI) when it launched its advocacy campaign for the Many Faces of the Teacher in 2003.
This year’s finalists compose of twelve of the most inspiring teachers that we have today. They are examples of ideal teachers – teachers who go beyond what is expected of them, because of their passion and commitment to their profession. The panel of judges or the Advocacy Review Board for this year is composed of: TMFT Honoree for 2004 Dr. Onofre Pagsanghan; Dr Maria Lim Ayuyao, President of the Foundation for Worldwide People Power; Peter Perfecto of the Philippine Business for Education, former DepEd Undersecretary Juan Miguel Luz and BBFI Chairman Saturnino G. Belen Jr.
The twelve finalists are:
Virgina Amanon, is a SPED teacher from Midsayap, Cotobato who has dedicated her life to teaching children with mental retardation. She has garnered numerous local awards for her contribution to her students and her community.
Jenelyn Baylon, is a Mobile teacher from Naujan, Oriental Mindoro. She travels distances to reach her students and as with all mobile teachers, they handle multi-level and multi-grade students and classes.
Leonides Bulalayao is a High School teacher from Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija. A consistent honor student from elementary to college she went on to contribute her knowledge through teaching. She has been the recipient of numerous awards for projects featuring innovative programs for teaching.
Simon Chua is a Principal/School Administrator from Zamboanga. The author of numerous books on Mathematics, he is also a sought after speaker and lecturer. His experience and affiliations extend to international as well as local organizations. He is also the first Filipino to be given the Pail Erdos Award granted by the World Federation of National Mathematics Competitions.
Father Ewald Dinter from Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro has committed 40 years of his life to education and development in Mindoro and has lived among the Mangyans and served as their mentor and father figure. He travels as much as nineteen hours, sometimes on foot, to reach his Mangyan students.
Margarita Gabriel is from Macrohon, Southern Leyte. Through her guidance and tutelage, their school (Amparo elementary school) was one of the schools to top the National Achievement Tests.
Carmelito Lauron is a High School teacher from Consolacion, Cebu. He integrated the use of Information and communications technology (ICT) in teaching and created innovative ICT programs for use by both teachers and students which was recognized by their local government and other award giving bodies.
Enrico Morilla is a Mobile Teacher from Bataan. He has been given various awards and recognition for his innovative teaching methods and commitment to working with the Out of School Youth and Indigenous Youth specifically the Aetas in their community. His dedication has helped improve the lives of many students in Bataan.
Marcelo Otinguey is a High School teacher from La Trinidad, Benguet. Aside from his commitment as a teacher, he has given a lot of his time to youth development, cultural integration and has been recognized by various government agencies (DepEd, Civil Service Commission, Department of Tourism etc) for his work. He was also a finalist for the Gawad Genny Lopez award for dedicating his life in service for the poor.
Marjorie Palomo is the OIC of the Antonio Llamas Elementary School in Bataan. She has also been declared as the Most Outstanding Teacher in the Philippines by the Philippine Public School Teachers Association – one of the most extensive searches for outstanding teachers in the country. She has also consistently maintained high rankings for their school in the National Achievement Tests.
Armando Salarza has dedicated over 20 years of his life to music through the Las Pinas Boys Choir and the St. Josephs Academy, Bamboo Organ Foundation Inc. He gained his music and performing arts education from Vienna, Austria and has committed his profession to educating the youth and pushing for excellence in music and the arts.
Concepcion Tababa is a Mobile teacher from Tubungan, Iloilo. A multi-awarded teacher she has dedicated her life to the education of the youth and has worked with various NGO’s and LGU’s to promote the causes of the underprivileged.
From the twelve, the list will go down to four. The final four honorees will be presented to the public on 27 September 2008 at the SMEX during Tribute to Teachers, an annual event that brings together the biggest gathering of teachers for a day of togetherness, inspiration and unity for the teaching profession.
Ching Jorge is the Director for Programs and Research of the Bato Balani Foundation Inc., a non-profit organization focused on uplifting the quality of education in the country. Email Ching at email@example.com.
It’s June once again, which means that another school year is just about ready to begin. With this in mind, the Philippine Daily Inquirer has launched a contest that may reward some lucky grade school and high school teachers with laptops for their creativity:
To jumpstart the new school year, Inquirer in Education (IIE) is conducting a search for the best and most exciting teacher-created lesson plans using the pages of the Inquirer as primary source.
The IIE Lesson Plan Contest will be giving away a laptop computer every month for the next six months starting in July to the most creative Inquirer-based study guides […].
The contest is open to all active teachers in grade and high schools throughout the Philippines, whether public or private.
The lesson plan must be original, unpublished, clear, concise and preferably adaptable for grades 4-7 and high school years 1-4. It should come with an activity sheet for students and, where applicable, must include extension activities.
As published in the Opinion section, Page A13, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 5 April 2008
UNESCO, through its Education for All initiative, posed questions in its Global Monitoring Report on the challenges facing efforts to achieve its target for 2015. The report, aptly titled “Education for All by 2015, Will We Make It?” shows developments in a global scale and cites highlights in each region, in our case, East Asia.
The question that we should ask ourselves is this, “Are we there yet?” EFA [Education for All] has six areas of concern: early childhood care and education, universal primary education, learning needs of young people and adults, adult literacy, gender equality and quality of education. According to the report, the Philippines—along with Cambodia, Guatemala, India and Nicaragua—has notably increased access to pre-primary education. The Adopt-A-School policy has been credited as a contributor to this positive development; incentives are provided to organizations that support this policy. The areas that still need improvement include quality of education, teacher-student ratios, gender equality and adult literacy.
Many organizations focus their efforts on the primary level: Sa Aklat Sisikat Foundation focuses its reading program on Grade 4 students. Union Bank of the Philippines addresses the needs of Grade 2 and 3 students in reading and values formation. The Bright Minds Read program of Ronald McDonald House Charities focuses on Grade 1 students. Petron Foundation’s Tulong Aral, which provides scholarships and meal allowances to Grade 1-6 students, recently had its first batch of graduates; under this very successful program, which was started six years ago, 1,000 students were able to graduate. Gawad Kalinga’s Sibol schools focus on the needs of preschool children in our marginalized sectors. Bato Balani Foundation has partnered with many of these organizations and provides educational materials and training for teachers and librarians, with focus on the primary and secondary level. Other organizations have also begun to set aside funds to enhance the quality of Math and Science education in both the primary and secondary level. There are many more organizations that deserve credit; many of them are corporate foundations which donate up to P1 billion annually to the cause of quality education.
If we take a look at the National Achievement Tests for Grade 6, its results in school year 2005-2006 show an overall Mean Percentage Score (MPS) of 54.5 percent, a decline from the previous year of 58.7 percent. But in school year 2006-2007, the overall MPS rose to 59.94 percent. As to the national ranking, the top 10—out of 186 participating provinces and cities in all regions—were: (in order) Southern Leyte, Ormoc City, Batangas, Digos City, Balanga City, Romblon, Maasin City, Eastern Samar, Calapan City, Siargao. In the National Capital Region, the Makati recorded the highest MPS (37th in the national ranking), while Quezon City got the lowest (146th in the national ranking). Sulu ranked 186th nationally.
The performance of the different provinces and cities indicate that collaboration between and among schools, communities and local government units is effective. EFA has recognized the distinct role and contribution of civil society in pushing for reforms and in providing aid and support for education. But education reform can be made more effective if we establish systems and processes for multi-sector collaboration with the local government as the “lead arm.”
Therefore, politicizing education reform makes a lot of sense. There are many initiatives and programs seen to be effective in improving the quality of education—all with very valid and laudable objectives; and the Department of Education has taken initiatives—most recently with the Education Summit—to bring together all sectors and get inputs for reform. Unfortunately, policy statements only end up just that—as policy statements. Cascading the implementation process down to the lowest level in the educational hierarchy needs to be seen and the local governments need to take a larger role in education reform.
As we move closer to the national elections in 2010, education stakeholders in the public and private sectors must begin to consider mobilizing campaigns pushing for education as a priority and critical agenda in political platforms. The voting public, most particularly the youth, must make the education agenda a major criterion for supporting political parties and individuals in both the national and local levels. We must make sure that political statements made on education during the election campaign are backed by solid data and speak of doable programs that can effect change in the education system; in other words, they must not remain as statements.
As the Foundation for Worldwide People Power puts it, we need an Education Revolution.
With proper policies, strong and consistent leadership in education, and the support of local governments and collaboration with the community and civil society, we might actually make some if not all the targets for EFA in 2015.
Natalie Christine “Ching” Jorge is the VP/Director for Programs and Research of the Bato Balani Foundation Inc. Jorge is also the lead convenor for the Young Public Servants (YPS-InciteGov) and chair of the Research committee of the League of Corporate Foundations (LCF). For comments/inquiries email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, www.batobalani.wordpress.com, www.yps.org.ph.
More than fifty organizations and institutions received over Php 32 Million worth of educational materials in 2007 through the Bato Balani Foundation’s Tulong Sa Paaralan, Tulay sa Kaunlaran program (TSP-TSK).
Since 1993, TSP-TSK has been providing deserving schools and communities nationwide with access to quality textbooks, educational materials and multimedia programs and content. Beneficiaries include public schools, NGO’s, local government units and corporate foundations with adopted schools, communities or reading programs. Partner organizations who are provided materials by the foundation usually distribute the materials to their own adopted schools and communities, providing a wider reach to deserving schools and students.