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Education for All by 2030

Education Secretary Br. Armin Luistro FSC has every reason to describe the opening of this school year as the best he and his team have ever experienced, judging from the reports received on the ground and through the Department of Education’s hotline. Not that all of the well-known problems associated with the Philippine educational system have been solved: There will continue to be a shortage of classrooms, teachers, textbooks and learning materials.

And not that these problems have not been addressed: There is simply so much catching up to do given the sheer magnitude of the system, with 23.7 million students enrolled in 58,811 elementary and secondary schools.

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Education Undersecretary for finance and administration Rey Laguda was jubilant when the tally of Grade 11 students enrolled in 11,000 public and private schools reached the 1-million mark (and counting) as of June 17.  He reminds us that one million learners are in school with “a wonderful opportunity to have a better life through education,” and that an additional 1 percent of our population is in school.

Undersecretary for programs Dina Ocampo was more than pleased to witness how students and teachers have begun using the three-week daily lesson logs for senior high school (SHS) developed by the Central Office. They have told her that these help them “understand themselves better” and ease them into SHS life. Ocampo told the teachers to feel free to make modifications as they see fit, confident that they know best what is suitable for their students. The all-important standard is that teaching and learning need to be both enjoyable and meaningful.

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This level of optimism, along with the June 6 statement of incoming Education Secretary Leonor Briones espousing “Education for All” as a major Millennium Development Goal, is most reassuring of the high priority that education will continue to be given.

In this light, the article in The Huffington Post (June 16) by Wendy Kopp on “Leadership Development: The Missing Piece in the Global Effort to Improve Education” merits special attention. Kopp is the CEO and cofounder of Teach for All, a network of nonprofit organizations committed to promoting quality education for all in their respective countries. This had its beginnings in Teach for America some 25 years ago that grew out of Kopp’s senior thesis at Princeton University.

Kopp saw that the best way to address the challenges American public education had back then was to develop a corps of young, high-performing college graduates who would make education their life’s work—first as teachers in the classroom for two years, then as committed education advocates in their chosen careers. Her theory of change was that anyone who teaches in a high-need public school setting would be inspired and fired up with the zeal to advocate for the education of all children.

Last year, 193 member-countries of the United Nations agreed to work toward inclusive and equitable education for all by 2030 as part of the UN’s 2030 Development Agenda. Kopp proposes “an intentional effort to develop a diverse set of leaders within developing countries” that would relentlessly fight for quality education for all.

Margarita Delgado and Lizzie Zobel founded Teach for the Philippines (TFP). Before that, they also founded Sa Aklat Sisikat Foundation, which has promoted the love and habit of reading in public schools for the past 10 years. TFP CEO Clarissa Delgado has been part of the Teach for All network of 40 countries since 2012.

TFP was cited in The Huffington Post article along with India and Peru as an example of how educational leadership can impact educational outcomes.

To date, 70 percent of our 89 alumni remain involved in education and policy, working with the DepEd and the Commission on Higher Education.  Many alumni, though not education graduates, have chosen to be classroom teachers in different schools.

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Seventeen are alumni ambassadors, an extension of the two-year employment with TFP and assigned to the DepEd central office or the local or national government. It is meant to encourage the fellows to continue their public service and, from the grassroots, experience work on the policy and macro level. They provide technical assistance to the government agencies they work for and the fresh and young talent of which the sector seems to have a shortage.

As Kopp emphasizes, “communities showing the most promise benefit from a constellation of diverse leaders who drive interventions and innovations from a range of vantage points, both within and outside education systems.”

For this school year, 85 TFP fellows are teaching in 23 public schools in Quezon City, Marikina, Navotas, Pasig, Malolos, Biñan, Sta. Rosa, Cagayan de Oro, and Del Carmen in Siargao. We continue to admire the educational leadership that these young graduates provide, and look forward to their making a difference in Philippine education beyond the classroom. Perhaps then, “Education for All” will be more than just a catchy battle cry and will truly empower our people.

Neni Sta. Romana Cruz ([email protected]) is chair of the National Book Development Board, a trustee of Teach for the Philippines, and a member of the Eggie Apostol Foundation.

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TAGS: Br. Armin Luistro, Department of Education, education, Millennium Development Goal, teach for the Philippines
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