On July 27, 2013, the City of Malabon took the first step in building an inclusive and participative education community by holding a summit of local government officials, school administrators and teachers, parents, and alumni. The participants who numbered about 500 represented community leaders are taking responsibility for necessary changes to improve basic education in the city. The event underscored the importance of making a commitment to students and also showed the integrity of Mayor Len Len Oreta’s administration in keeping with the ideals of education reform.
Dr. Nene Guevara asked three questions of the participants to guide them in forming a strategic plan for systemic change:
- What are our dreams for our children?
- What are the issues hindering these dreams?
- What can we do together to make our dreams come true?
The participants took on the task of evaluating themselves and created a forum of serious realization and honest assessment.
Sharing our dreams. Seeing that only 28% of the city’s children graduate from high school, the participants stressed their desire for students to finish school. Mayor Len, for his part, encouraged everyone to strive for the 80 percent mark of excellence in the National Achievement Test.
Acknowledging our shortcomings. The participants had an honest exchange of ideas in answering the factors that deter effective learning of children. While parents and teachers admitted to being at fault for not always being proper guardians of children, the community also analyzed the ways in which their environment discouraged the formation of better learning values in students. A particular point made by government officials regarding this was the omnipresence of video carera and computer shops that have led to the addictive hobbies of gambling and gaming. One parent even observed that barangay officials do not do their duties in discouraging “sabong” and “bingo on the street.”
Committing to our children. A promise was made by all the sectors to support one another in education. For government officials, this meant strict implementation of regulations to minimize distractions and temptations that pull students away from their lessons. Alumni pledged to give their time and experience to help tackle the issues that were raised by the community. For school administrators and teachers, the commitment was about dedication and better teaching strategies that could keep students interested. And parents promised their time, patience, and understanding in raising children so that they can finish schooling.
This summit was the City of Malabon looking itself in the mirror and the residents seeing themselves and what they could be. While the next steps will be challenging, the purpose they gleaned from the summit will guide their future efforts.