Message of Vice President Leni Robredo during the 14th Washington Sycip National Education Summit

30 March 2021

“Each of us is a stakeholder. contributing to this bigger project of nation-building. This is the spirit of Synergeia. At ito rin mismo yung paniniwala ni Jesse as one of its founding trustess. As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. At sa larangang ito, Jesse belived that local governments can always do more.” – VP Leni

The Honorable Maria Leonor G. Robredo

Vice President, Republic of the Philippines

Good afternoon sa mga bumubuo ng Synergeia Foundation, sa mga government officials, school administrators at education advocates na nakikiisa sa 14th National Education Summit.  Thank you for all that you do to make sure that no learner is left behind during this  pandemic.

Medyo suki na ako ng annual summit ninyo. This year, hindi man tayo magkakasama physically, natutuwa pa din ako na nakagawa kayo ng paraan to come together and talk about the important tasks ahead of us.  Patunay dito yung napili ninyong  tema ngayong taon, “Learning  from our best to defy gravity”

Kasi totoo.

In the past year, we have been through so much, that it feels like that we have hit rock bottom. Covid-19 has tolled so much of our children’s education.  Homes have turned into classrooms. At talagang nakita natin kung gaano kahirap ang naging transition sa mga bagong learning modalities.

Sabi sa isang recent SWS survey, 89% of families ang mas nahihirapan sa blended learning  kesa face to face. We know how challenges to infrastructure, access to gadgets, and even capacity building for teachers have made life difficult for some more than for others. There have always been gaps that needed to be filled in our education system.  But now, with the pandemic bringing entire nations to their knees, fissures in society resurfaced and widened, impacting the most vulnerable even more.  

Questions persist. What lies ahead for the entire education system as we continue to reel from the pandemic?  How do we capacitate our teachers better and engage our students more, even at a time of physical distancing?  How will we cope, and how can ensure that no one is left behind in the process?  Walang iisang sagot sa mga tanong na ito.  Pero ang sigurado , palaging mayroon tayong  puwedeng gawin, dito at ngayon.

If this pandemic has taught us anything, it is ultimately, our lives are intertwined.  Each of us is a stakeholder, contributing to this bigger project of nation – building. This is the spirit of Synergeia.  At ito rin mismo yung paniniwala ni Jesse as one of its founding trustees.  As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise  a child. At sa larangang ito, Jesse  believed that local governments  can always  do more.

When he was Mayor of Naga, Jesse reformed the local school board and broadened its membership and functions.  He wanted local leaders to play a more active role in strengthening basic education by developing a more inclusive education reform agenda.  The education of our children after all rests not only on the shoulders of the academe.  It is a responsibility shared across entire communities.  Sa harap ng anumang hamon, lalo na sa edukasyon, coming together in the spirit of Bayanihan is what will see us through to a better normal.  Sa ganitong pagkilos, rest assured, hindi kayo nag-iisa.

Saksi kami dito. Sa mga partners at donors na nagpaabot ng resources, sa mga volunteers na dumagsa sa OVP at naglaan ng talent at panahon para tumulong ng pro bono, malinaw na malinaw na buhay ang diwa ng bayanihan sa puso ng Pilipino.

Kaya nga rin angkop na angkop yung pangalan na Bayanahihan E-skewela initiatives natin. From gadgets, to community learning hubs, to instructional videos on  how to do blended learning at home, to teacher training programs, nagiging possible lang ang lahat ng ito dahil sa pakikipagtulungan ng napakarami nating  mga kababayan.  Indeed, the only way that we can overcome this crisis is to respond to it as one.

Malinaw din na just as we have to get input and feedback from all sectors para matugunan ang hamon ng pandemiya, hindi rin 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, to find the gaps and fill them, and go where we are most needed. Our recommendations stand:  establish more learning hubs near community schools, provide training to teachers, explore conducting face to face classes in areas where there is no community transmission, invest more in technology.  To this end, more work needs to be done.

According to a recent World Bank  and NEDA study, the country is lagging behind its Southeast Asian neighbors when it comes to adapting digital technology to business, governance and education.  In terms of digital competitiveness, the Philippines slipped further last year, ranking 57 out of 63 nations when it comes to using digital technologies for economic growth. Government, then, should make  sure that digital infrastructure is in place so we can fully transition to online learning.  We have to adapt, speed up and scale up because this is the future.  And if we don’t act now, we could continue to fall behind, leaving our teachers and learners struggling.

These extraordinary times make solidarity imperative.  The greater the challenge, the stronger the call for all of us to come together and help each other.   All hands on deck lang tayo.  Bridge the gaps and do what needs to be done here and now.  Create more linkages, share more knowledge and resources, accelerate your learning curve and build permanent systems of cooperation and feedback between public schools, private schools and the larger system of education.  Forge new pathways where old ones seem blocked. Be creative, think out of the box.  Find certainty in every sure step.  Always moving forward.  Facing each day not only with hope but with grit and deep resolve.  This pandemic may have turned our worlds upside down and the challenges and uncertainties can be overwhelming.  To find anchorage, we need to look beside us, sa mga kasama nating tuloy tuloy na nagsisikap at gumagawa ng paraan.  Continue listening to  and empowering each other, so that we widen the path for others to follow.

Kasama ang Synergeia at ang buong bansa, tiwala ako na bubuo tayo ng isang tunay na  better normal, isang lipunan mas patas, mas makatao at mas mapagmalasakit.

Isang mundo kung saan walang kabataan at walang gurong maiiwan.

Muli, maraming salamat at mabuhay kayong lahat.

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