By Manolo Serapio Jr.
Twenty-seven cities and municipalities were awarded the Seal of Good Education Governance by the United States Agency for International Development and Synergeia Foundation in recognition of their efficiency in delivering basic education in their communities despite a crippling pandemic.
Nine local governments were conferred the Seal for the fourth year since its inception, having aggressively stepped up to the plate to ensure that learning continued as the global health crisis kept Philippine schools shut for more than a year now.
Many of these cities and municipalities safely implemented limited in-person learning sessions in open areas, sustained remedial reading programs and used radio and online tools widely to supplement learning modules supplied by schools.
“Education is the responsibility of the central government, yet you embraced it completely and we deeply appreciate your effort,” Synergeia President and CEO Milwida Guevara said during the awarding of the Seal at the conclusion of the 14th Washington SyCip National Education Summit on Friday.
With the theme “Learning from our Best to Defy Gravity”, the two-day virtual summit tackled the issues surrounding the falling competency of Filipino students with guests including Vice President Leni Robredo, USAID acting administrator Gloria Steele and Senator Sherwin Gatchalian. Hundreds of participants including educators, parents, and local government officials participated.
The criteria used in selecting this year’s recipients include a high cohort survival rate, the ratio of current enrollment to last year’s, a reduction in the number of frustrated and non-readers, a reinvented Local School Board and functional School Governing Councils.
Measuring the cohort survival rate, that is, Grade 1 students must at least finish Grade 6, is critical in a country where one in five families are headed by somebody who did not finish elementary education.
The Seal “acknowledges the recipient’s commitment, provides a better future for the children and youth across the Philippines and it incentivizes others to follow their lead,” said USAID’s Steele.
USAID implements its Education Governance Effectiveness program in partnership with Synergeia and is aimed at transforming local communities to be education champions, with the goal of improving the reading skills for early grade students.
‘Award for the community’
For this year, the Seal recipients were grouped into how many times they have won the Seal since it was first conferred in 2017. There were the first-time and second-time winners and there were those who were awarded for three years and four years. There was no Seal given out last year due to the pandemic.
First-time winners were Balanga City, Bataan; San Fernando, La Union; General Santos City; San Manuel, Pangasinan; Roxas, Palawan; Barotac Viejo, Iloilo; and Dumangas, Iloilo.
Those who received it a second time were Padre Garcia, Batangas; Agoo, La Union; San Gabriel, La Union; Ivisan, Capiz; Alimodian, Iloilo; Vigan City, Ilocos Sur; and Mambusao, Capiz.
Three-time recipients were Tuba, Benguet; Cabatuan, Iloilo; Concepcion, Iloilo; and Villaverde, Nueva Vizcaya. And those that won the Seal for a fourth time were Solano, Nueva Vizcaya; Bacnotan, La Union; Diffun, Quirino; Mina, Iloilo; Cagayan de Oro City; Datu Paglas, Maguindanao; North Upi, Maguindanao; Navotas City; and Valenzuela City.
Nine local governments which just barely missed the mark were in the honorable mention: Candon, Ilocos Sur; Lambunao, Iloilo; Oton, Iloilo; Taraka, Lanao del Sur; Mataas na Kahoy, Batangas; San Jose de Buenavista, Antique; Saguday, Quirino; Batad, Iloilo; and Parang, Maguindanao.
Mayor Carlo Medina, from two-time Seal winner Vigan City, said: “This is not an award for any one person, this is an award for the community. We can all persevere to defy gravity.”
Other partners for the event were the United Nations Children’s Fund, PLDT Smart, Seaoil Foundation and SGV Foundation.
Apart from the Seal, all awardees will each receive P75,000 worth of gas cards from Seaoil, P79,000 worth of phone cards from Smart Communications and a package of children’s books from SGV Foundation worth P50,000.
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