Excerpts from the Welcome Address by Father Jett Villarin, Chairman, Board of Trustees, Synergeia Foundation
Father Jose Ramon Villarin, S.J., opened the 12th Washington Sycip National Education Summit with a very inspiring message to the more than 600 education champions and stakeholders who came from all over the Philippines to attend the summit. “We need good leaders who will educate our people. Education governance is all about leaders who lead by educating their people. You are those leaders. You lead not by deceiving or confusing or dividing your community. You lead by making education your priority because this is for the good not only of a few but for the good of the community and our nation.”
According to Father Jett, three challenges need to be confronted in this digital age – – social disconnection, accelerating change and data-information-knowledge “massification.” The negative outcomes of these challenges are greater exclusion, polarization and divisiveness – – ‘between those who are connected and those who are not, those who have more now and those who have less now and will not grow as fast, and those who are lost in the maze of knowledge and those who can navigate their way in this digital world.’
There are three vital courses of action to take. First, we need good leaders who will look after the common good and will rally us to work together. Second, we need to educate our people because education gives opportunities for our people to advance. Third, we need good leaders who will educate our people.
And we are proud of our education leaders who have led by bringing all the education stakeholders together to make education work for our communities.
“If I may speak on behalf of Synergeia, and on behalf of the children of our nation, I would like to thank you for your statesmanship. For stepping up and taking charge of this noble cause, this powerful advocacy of education governance. I know you have many concerns and are subject to countless pressures and stresses coming at you from all sorts of directions. And so we thank you for making education a strategic priority of your governance and leadership.
“Let me close by assuring you that your legacy of education governance for our people will go beyond your personal and political lifetimes. Filipinos do not forget those that have been good to them. And God does not forget those who have cared for the least of His people especially His children. We of Synergeia consider it our privilege to serve you and partner with you in this cause of education governance.
“We all know that education is a long term investment. Bad leaders who choose not to see too far down the road will not make education their priority. The ROI is just too long for their comfort and their political lifetimes. In the same vein, I recall a story that Kennedy (JFK) loved to tell in the 1960s. He said, and I quote:
“Marshal Lyautey who was a great French marshal in North Africa, was once talking to his gardener and he suggested that he plant a tree, and his gardener said, “Well, why plant it? It won’t flower for 100 years.” And Marshal Lyautey said, “In that case, plant it this afternoon.”
“Another leader would have said, 100 years pa? Ay, huwag nang itanim. Just plant something else that will give fruit right away. But you are not that kind of a leader. You see farther down the road. You see better than the rest. You are that good leader who will educate, educate, educate even if it takes 100 before others can find rest under the shade of this tree you decided to plant today. Thank you for being that leader.”