23 May 2013

Anything goes in a Synergeia training program. A male principal said he danced for the first time, and holding the hands of a female participant at that!  Much to our surprise, a female principal threw her brassiere to save her group from losing the” bring me” contest. A male principal professed his love for Synergeia after I told them that it is love which drives us in our work. Was it the song “Obladi Oblada by the Beatles? Was it the unconventional way with which we opened the program? (We opted for a game instead of the traditional opening ceremonies)  Or is it the freedom in expressing one’s thoughts during the discussion?

Two years after the USAID EQuALLS 2 program ended, we were back in Maguindanao and working with the young administrators. It was their first time to benchmark their performance using a time series on NAT scores. One participant sighed, “We should have worked harder”. But not to worry, we assured them as we started our appreciative inquiry on their accomplishments. And there were plenty: reducing the number of non readers, mentoring peer teachers, mobilizing support from barangays, building small infra projects like a small road leading to the school. But there are miles to go before they sleep. There are volunteer and kindergarten teachers to train. The number of non- readers has to be further reduced. There are the needs of intelligent children to address. The Upi group was so impressive and it was proof that Upi no longer needs Synergeia. The principals are able to assess their needs, design a training program, and source their own budget. What greater proof that Synergeia has succeeded in making them independent! As a prize, I teased them that they would no longer form part of Synergeia. They objected vehemently, of course.

The discussion the next morning turned out much better than I expected. We discussed change management through a force field analysis, a technique we used for the first time. They were so engaged in analyzing how to change corruption at the DepEd, the bureaucratic way appointments are made, and the non- distribution of the MOOE. We ended the day with a letter addressed to the ARMM DepEd Secretary asking in a polite way how schools can have access to their MOOE. It was a departure from the usual whine and complaint scenario. Now, they have drawn up strategic steps to follow.

I told them Synergeia will no longer initiate activities but will only support their initiatives. Synergeia. Is now ready to take the back seat. And with much glee.

Obladi, oblada!!!

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