One Fine Day for Murcia

11 April 2024

Murcia sounds like Spanish.  Indeed. Murcia is a city in southeastern Spain.

But there is another Murcia, a place brewing with new ideas and warmer smiles of close to 90,000 people, in Negros Occidental. 

People gathered for Murcia one fine day. And it was for this important Education Summit which could break or make the future of children in this awesome town in the Visayas. 

How can a small municipality like Murcia become so serious about education that it has to make a summit matter for its local governance?

Murcia’s leadership has a vision for a more sustainable knowledge-based future for its citizenry. Mayor Gerry M Rojas saw that only when the quality of its education improves and the standards for such quality are raised will they be able to confront his vision with success.

The Summit was a key response to this vision. Murcia’s community understood the Mayor’s call for dialogue and conversation about what needs to be resolved and the concrete actions to take.

Through the support of Synergeia led by former Governor Rafael ‘Lito’ Coscolluela and joined by former Mayor Alfonso Gamboa, former Vice Mayor Jay Jalandoni, Councilor Fini Jalandoni, and Program Officer Edwin Nacionales, the Summit was held on 21 March 2024 in Bacolod City. 

Over 250 participants came to the Summit. There were the local barangay officials of Murcia,  the Department of Education officers, health and nutrition staff, child development workers, daycare teachers under the Department of Social Welfare and Development, and members of the Parents-Teachers-Association.

All agreed with Mayor Roxas’ conclusion that based on data from the DepEd, Murcia’s student performance in different levels of reading- Hiligaynon, Filipino, and English/ showed inferior results. The most worrisome results came from secondary-level English, which showed a dismal 11% readiness by the students. Moreover, the poor nutritional status in daycare was also concerning.

Given this situation, it was established that there has to be a better strategy and approach that can hopefully bridge the gaps and achieve more positive outcomes. 

Inspired by the dreams of parents for their children to finish their education, the Summit 

generated helpful insights and possibilities which Murcia should start doing and build a stronger foundation for its education vision. 

It cemented a Covenant of Support amongst the stakeholders of MURCIA to cover for the following concrete actions to be taken by those involved:

  1. The elected officials, composed of Sangguniang Bayan Members, Barangay Captains, and Sangguniang Kabataan committed to passing ordinances to support students’ welfare, such as scholarships for poor but deserving students, barangay nutrition, and assistance for qualified residents to avail of the Tesda scholarship. They also planned to establish Barangay Reading Centers or libraries which will help develop the reading culture in the barangays and also serve as venues for tutorial classes.
  2. The parents’ group puts a premium on teaching the correct values to their children at home. As their children’s first teachers, they committed to providing adequate time and effort to teach good study habits by checking their lessons and homework. They agreed to instill discipline by regulating the use of gadgets that affect the study habits of most children. A mother was so emphatic about the problem of early pregnancy that she proposed that parents should regulate the use of cell phones, TV shows, and other forms of social media that contribute to early pregnancies. Parents, especially mothers, should raise awareness about the negative consequences of early marriage, including the increased risk of early pregnancies.
  3. The teachers’ group appealed for continuous support from the parents and the barangays to ensure children learn better and finish schooling.  They shared everyone’s dream of making children learn better with good habits and sound moral values.
  4. The DSWD group assured everyone that they would teach the preschoolers with a “heart.” To be more effective, they appealed to the Mayor to have spacious and child-friendly Daycare Centers.

No doubt, It was absolutely one fine day for Murcia. 

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