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Partnerships that Make Good Education Governance Work

Counting over two decades of quiet, persevering work to transform leaders and communities into champions of education through effective and efficient governance, Synergeia Foundation and its partners enter a new phase of their crusade of hope for the Filipino child.

School Governing Council (SGC) workshop at Solano, Nueva Vizcaya.

The convening of the 14th Washington SyCip National Education Summit, Synergeia Foundation last March marks the Synergeia community’s readiness to take this fight to unexplored territory, a.k.a. the New Normal, confident in the synergy forged through the years among stakeholders from government and private institutions.  

Facing up to challenges as one community however is nothing new. Encapsulated in the motto Isang Puso, Isang Pamilya,the beloved Filipino value of bayanihan has proven to be a major factor behind the Foundation’s achievements thus far.

Since 2013, the Synergeia network has expanded its reach through its partnership with the USAID’s Education Governance Effectiveness (EdGE) project, an initiative that seeks to improve the reading skills of a million early grade students in the Philippines. Starting off with a modest band of some 60 pioneering local government units (LGUs), Synergeia has since conducted close-to 450 education summits and made a difference in the lives of over three million children, 14,000 educators, more than 18,000 officials and administrators, and some 8,000 Parent-Teacher Associations.

Further, Synergeia and partners have been at the forefront of rebuilding efforts at the height of the country’s worst crises: in 2013, they came to the rescue of areas hard-hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda, restoring schools and providing learning material to children. In 2017, during the Marawi crisis, Synergeia was there to offer psychosocial support, remedial learning, and safe learning spaces to over 80,000 children displaced by the five-month siege.

With the same determination and resilience, the downward pull of present-day circumstances may have slowed down but not prevented upstanding LGUs from navigating their way to providing a learning environment that best suits the “Now” Normal lifestyle of the students, parents, and teachers in their localities.

Thus, the year’s Summit theme, “Learning from Our Best to Defy Gravity.”

In 2020 alone, at the height of the lockdowns spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, Synergeia assisted close to 20,000 parents and over 10,000 teachers to adjust to the new learning modalities with the support of its over 441 LGU partners and donors.

The awarding of the prestigious Seal of Good Education Governance (SGEG) likewise takes on special significance. Every year since 2017, an average of 20 LGUs are honored for their outstanding efforts at raising the quality of basic education in their localities through good governance. This year, the 27 that were honored with the SGEG, stand as a continuing testimony to how bayanihan fuels the collective push for a better future for the country’s youth, “from the bottom, up.” A show of strength and commitment to go on auto-pilot to sustain and spread the good work already begun.

Group photo from the Municipality of Concepcion, Iloilo, a three-time awardee of the Seal of Good Education Governance (SGEG) awards.

As two-time SGEG awardee, Hon. Juan Carlos Medina, mayor of Vigan City, aptly puts it, “This is not an award for any one person. This is an award for the whole community. And we could not have done it without the support of our partners. Kung hindi tayo nagtutulungan, hindi namin magagawa lahat ito.”

It is said that no one emerges from a crisis unchanged. One thing for sure, the transformative leadership fostered by Synergeia promises to give rise to a new breed of champions capable of taking on the education challenges posed by the new world order.

“But for our children to fly and defy gravity, we, their elders must also strip ourselves of anything that pulls us down,” affirmed Synergeia Foundation President and CEO Dr. Milwilda Guevarra. “To take our movement to the next level, we must continue rising above differences in beliefs, ideals, and affiliations, driven by one vision and focused on one goal: a better future for our children and, ultimately, for our nation.”