Road maps

Posted by: root
Posted Date: Aug 14, 2006

By Butch Hernandez, Inquirer
08/14/2006 02:11:00

Source: http://opinion.inquirer.net/inquireropinion/columns/view/20060814-15075/...

WITHIN A FIVE-DAY PERIOD, MEMBERS OF THE BOARD of Trustees of the Foundation for Worldwide People Power—led by its chair and 2006 Ramon Magsaysay awardee Eugenia Apostol—attended three education-themed meetings. These were separately convened by major business groups, civil society organizations and private corporate foundations.

The FWWPP’s first sortie was a breakfast meeting hosted jointly by the League of Corporate Foundations (LCF) which is headed by its president, Vicky Garchitorena; the Philippine Business for Education (PBED) which had Dr. Chito Salazar as its lead representative; and the International Center for Innovation, Transformation and Excellence in Governance (INCITEGov) which was led by former Education Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad, former Undersecretary Miguel Luz, and Mario Taguiwalo. On that same day, the major dailies carried full-page stories on the LCF’s Corporate Social Responsibility Road Map.

At the meeting, Marilou Erni of the Petron Foundation and Mario Deriquito from the Ayala Foundation gave brief, albeit extremely clear, narratives on how the many facets outlined in the LCF’s CSR Road Map eventually contributed toward making education a continuing national priority.

Abad and Taguiwalo, meanwhile, discussed the Basic Education Sector Reform Agenda (Besra) 2006-2010. Besra is a package of policy reforms that the Department of Education is currently pursuing. The package “as a whole seeks to systematically improve critical regulatory, institutional, structural, financial, cultural, physical and informational conditions affecting basic education provision, access and delivery on the ground.”

Besra actually traces its roots to the education road map that FWWPP trustee Dr. Edilberto de Jesus crafted during his short but quite meaningful stint as education secretary, which evolved into Secretary Abad’s Schools First Initiative.

Amid a lively exchange of views, this question was asked: The resources that the private sector has made available for public education—in the form of direct donations and various support programs—have been considerable and continue to increase. Wouldn’t it be possible to leverage this sustained—and very sizeable—collective expression of support for a system-wide drive toward quality education?

Lawyer Fely Arroyo of the FWWPP answered that this is indeed very possible. In fact, the FWWPP has already been able to develop a full-fledged community-driven performance-based support framework precisely to address this issue. Joel Pagsanghan, also of the FWWPP, said that the framework is designed to be simple, scalable and can be easily integrated into existing programs and initiatives.

The FWWPP’s next stop was at a working meeting organized by the eminent Dr. Jesus Estanislao’s Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA).

Its executive director, Chris Zaens, and Dr. Antonio Torralba of the University of Asia and the Pacific, organized this particular gathering also for talks about a road map, this time for the academe.

The ISA activity that day was actually part of a larger initiative that seeks to make governance “a shared responsibility.” Toward this end, ISA had earlier launched “Mahal Ko Ang Pilipinas,” a movement that aims to promote responsible citizenship as a core social value.

In line with this, Zaens said that ISA has been holding a series of meetings among “sectoral anchors,” one of which is the academe.

Arnulfo H. Empleo, the president of the National Association of Public Secondary School Heads got things going by pointing out that in this light, the academe plays a fundamental role in the formation of positive civic values.

FWWPP’s Mentoring the Mentors Program director Chinit Rufino and FWWPP president Maria Lim Ayuyao cited the headway Mentoring the Mentors has made in empowering teachers with a deep sense of legacy. Rufino added that the overarching goal of the Mentoring the Mentors Program has always been to reinforce in the teacher her crucial role in value formation.

The FWWPP had one last meeting to join at the end of the week. We had been invited to a roundtable discussion on education. This was sponsored and organized by the Bato Balani Foundation Inc. (BBFI).

“Bato Balani” refers to magnetized iron ore, but the Filipino language being what it is, this phrase can also be used to characterize the power of knowledge.

BBFI, led by its board chair Saturnino K. Belen and president Lorna L. Belen, has been, for decades, at the forefront of activities to improve education. Its mission is simple: to invest in the nation’s future through education improvement.

Dr. Prosy Fuentes of the Southeast Asia Interdisciplinary Institute (SAIDI) facilitated this roundtable discussion by asking the group to focus on public education’s positive aspects and on how social networks could be mobilized to further enhance these characteristics.

This past week has been particularly edifying for us here at the FWWPP. As proponents of the Education Revolution, we are deeply encouraged by the depth of commitment exhibited by every participant in every meeting that we joined. The convening groups all had a common premise: the scope of the crisis facing Philippine education today demands an equally broad and unified effort that should involve all stakeholders, and the private sector could do well to take the lead.

At the very least, the quality of education that an individual acquires early in life directly affects his personal growth—not to mention his income—later on.

Furthermore, a compendium of research that spans four decades offers very strong evidence that a high quality school significantly enhances national economic potential.

At the very best, the social benefits derived from quality education are virtually limitless.

Butch Hernandez is the executive director of the Foundation for Worldwide People Power, with e-mail at execdir@fwwpp.org.

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