Jesse Robredo’s Governance in Education


On the days that Secretary’s plane perished, we were feverishly beating the deadline to submit a grant proposal for a USAID competition on education governance. But it became a futile exercise because we were crying and praying, and crying and praying.’ And then, it dawned on us that we only had to write about his life and his work with children. Synergeia had the great fortune of witnessing, partnering, and being mentored by him on how to reinvent Local School Boards and how Mayors and Governors can be inspired by his example. Without any effort, we based our proposal on his work with Synergeia. Governor Lito added, “let us all pray for Jesse’s intercession.”


Mayor Robredo told me he nearly fell off his chair when I told him that Ford Foundation would give him a grant to reinvent local school boards in the Philippines. He must have remembered that years ago, I told him never to expect any help from me as Undersecretary in the Department of Finance. But that was told in jest as it was rare for me to encounter dissenting views when I was in government. Fast forward, I left government and was a Program Officer of the Ford Foundation. We wanted to help stop the deteriorating quality of basic education in the Philippines. Our approach was for local governments to lead their communities to want and lead the change. There was no better person to think through and demonstrate the processes than the 2000 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee, Jesse M. Robredo, Mayor of Naga City. He was no ordinary thinker. He made what was ideal, real.