It all began with what is now popularly known as the “Robredo Model” in governance and education. As Naga City mayor, the late Interior Secretary and founding trustee of Synergeia Foundation, Jesse Robredo, sparked a movement for local governments to be change leaders in addressing the quality drop in basic education in the country.
Nine years since his tragic passing and 14 education summits after, his inspiration lives on in his ever-growing number of believers at both the local and national levels of government, led by the country’s sitting Vice President, H.E. Leni Robredo.
Addressing some 1000 participants on March 26, Day Two of the 14th Washington SyCip National Education Summit organized by Synergeia, USAID, and the World Bank, VP Robredo spoke of her late husband’s unswerving belief in the power of local governments to engage communities in the context of present-day conditions, underscoring the spirit of bayanihan as the Filipino’s way to get through pandemic times:
“If this pandemic has taught us anything, it is that, ultimately, our lives are intertwined. Each of us is a stakeholder in this bigger project of nation building…. The education of our children rests not only on the shoulders of the academe but is a responsibility shared across the entire community…. The only way we can overcome this crisis is if we respond to it as one…. We need to get feedback from all sectors para matugunan nang tama ang pandemia. Hindi uubra ang one size fits all solution. We have to be agile, flexible and nimble enough to pattern our response to the realities we see on the ground.”
Also invited to speak at the virtual Summit was Senator Sherwin Gatchalian. The Chairman of the Committee on Basic Education of the Senate and Synergeia trustee outlined his office’s push for policy reforms that would shake up the status quo and address critical issues–the low literacy of students, improved teacher training, budget allocation, a more expanded role for school boards, and tighter collaboration among the Philippines’ major education bodies. Echoing the Vice President’s call for solidarity, Senator Gatchalian furthered that said policies will succeed only “if mayors and stakeholders roll them out to their full extent” and commended Synergeia’s perseverance in instilling its participative and holistic culture among all stakeholders.
The express support and solid commitment from the National Government set the tone for Summit participants to share best practices and dedicate themselves to make governance and education work the “Mayor Jesse” way in their respective amidst the challenges of the New Normal.
As Founding Synergeia Chair, Fr. Bienvenido Nebres rightly stated in his closing remarks, the Synergeia community is committed “to build a new future for our children from the ground—child by child, school by school, LGU by LGU. Our virtual summit has shown that we are on the way to journeying together, caring for the most vulnerable, our children. We are on the path to coming out of the pandemic towards a better future, together.”
Synergeia, founded in 2002, is a non–profit organization of individuals, institutions, and organizations working to improve the quality of basic education in the country.