With the New Year comes new beginnings and for the Municipality of Teresa, 2018 marks the beginning of a newfound commitment to education. On the 23rd of January, Synergeia and the Municipality of Teresa officially began its education partnership with the town’s first ever Education Summit.
Everyone was abuzz with excitement and eagerness. The participants yelled the summit’s title “We Can Work It Out” like a battle cry to kick-off the day’s program of activities. Mayor Raul Palino was inspiring yet firm in his remarks. To everyone in the room — to the school officials and teachers, students, parents, implementers of the 4Ps program, private sector, and local government officials, he posed this challenge: “May gagawin po tayo…Ang ating layunin ay sama-samang makatulong sa mga bata. Papaano natin itataas ang antas ng karunungan sa Teresa?”
Synergeia Mentor, Former Governor Josie dela Cruz, discussed School Governing Councils – – how they are created, who can be SGC members, their functions and how they differ from Parent-Teachers’ Associations. She highlighted their important role in the formulation of school improvement plans after finding out that many schools in Teresa did not have SGCs at all, or if they did, these were not functional or active in school policy making and planning. The SGC is the vehicle to involve members of the entire community who might have a stake in the improvement of every child’s education. As F/Gov Josie so aptly stated, “Ang edukasyon ng kabataan ay pakialam nating lahat…Pagkatapos nitong summit na ito, sana magbubuo po tayong lahat ng School Governing Councils sa ating mga paaralan.”
The two break-out groups facilitated by F/Gov Josie and Ma’am Nene were interactive, fun, and instructional at the same time. There were follow-through modules on identifying SGC circles of influence, how to make one attend an SGC meeting and what could be ground rules an SGC must observe. The participants worked on a group puzzle that quizzed them on historical facts about the Philippines and in the process, they learned about cooperation and working as one team. They next dove right into capacity-building activities that focused on setting attainable goals, translating goals into tasks, and differentiating between inputs, outputs, and outcomes. These skills are instrumental in building and fostering a successful SGC.
The participants, shown the National Achievement Test scores of Teresa schools, expressed concern at the declining trend of scores over the past few years. Participants, including young students, had stories to tell on possible reasons for this drop such as the sudden change in curriculum, the focus on mother tongue, parents who are unable to read themselves, newbie teachers assigned in the lower grades, students distracted with games, and so on. The bottom line, however, was everyone agreed that there was much work to be done.
To cap the day’s workshop, the participants were asked to prepare a simple action plan that identifies their desired goals and tasks. The teachers want to improve the reading and math competencies of schoolchildren. The parents look forward to a training on parenting skills. DepEd Schools Division Superintendent, Dr. Meliton Zurbano, identified reading, numeracy and writing as priorities. Teresa Marble, the partner-private corporation of Teresa in its education program, promised to support and monitor the development of SGCs, the remedial reading training of teachers and parenting workshop.
After hearing the participants, we know that there is so much hope and promise that Teresa’s education program will succeed. Ma’am Nene promised Synergeia’s full support and commitment. Her parting note – “Ang programa ng Synergeia ay ang inyong edukasyon…”