Thursday, December 20, 2007

An Education Agenda (Last Part)

The Need to Plan

During the past few years as a private citizen, we have been engaging the political leaders of our province, and even some of our national leaders, to incorporate this Education Agenda in our provincial and national programs. We are doing this with diligence and without fanfare because we know we are competing against many provincial and national priorities for limited provincial and state resources.

But for us to succeed in getting national attention, we must have first the intellectual honesty to understand the education needs of Sibalenhons. We need to scan the environment for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that are necessary elements in education planning.

How many teachers, for example, need to be trained and in what field? What are, for instance the most common causes that lead pupils and students to leave school? Why do some graduates find it difficult to get employed? What are the facilities we are most in need of? Is undernourishment a cause of underperformance in school? Do we have classroom, books, and desk shortages? Can our local government afford to pay incentives to our teachers? These are questions that we must have ready answers to be able to plan ahead.

It is therefore with a sense of optimism that I commend the leadership of the Concepcion National High School for organizing this event, and congratulate all of you for your happy participation.

By holding this Summit, the CNHS, as a public education institution, is playing its expected role of molding and shaping the young minds of Sibalenhons in preparation for the Knowledge Century. The CNHS, by its mandate, has been a visible presence in Sibale’s public affairs, even as it continues to make a mark through its graduates.

It can do more, however, to help in Sibale’s development efforts. For example, it should conceive training programs for out-of-school youths to enable them to acquire basic occupational skills, such as carpentry, welding, plumbing, masonry, practical electricity, and other blue-collar skills which today are in demand in the labor market. It can organize weekend literacy classes for women, story-telling for children, and even conduct livelihood programs, such as fish– and meat processing, for those who are interested in entrepreneurial activities.

These activities, while no longer confined in the four corners of the classroom, are education-related and will go a long way in empowering the Sibalenhon to prepare for the future. The CNHS can partner with the barangays, even with some private NGOs and civic organizations in carrying out such initiatives.

In my own, despite my very limited time, I can offer my expertise as a facilitator in communication training, value orientation, and institution building, which are all essential element of any education empowerment initiative. All I need to see is sincere commitment to pursue such a program.

The realization of our education goals needs a lot of investment in time and money. But more than the financial resources, we need communal unity, focus, and patience, with large doses of cooperation.

It can be done. To believe otherwise is defeatist and is not the Sibalenhon way.

If it will inspire you, a recent experience is instructive. Last week, Sibalenhons from all over Batangas, Cavite, Metro Manila, and Laguna celebrated our town fiesta in Lipa because we cannot come home on December 8. This has become a tradition and has been done the last few years. Naturally, we had a basketball tournament, in which my team, the Batlaw sa Lim-aw, fought for the Ragipon Cup. My team was underrated. It was a rag-tag team, composed of Sibalenhons whose egos are bigger in relation to their skills. No one has believed, except ourselves, that we will win the championship. We did it on sheer calm, focus, unity, and cooperation. Ranged against an unbeaten team with superior skills and over-confidence, we won on account of our organized, systematic, and single-minded effort to achieve our mission.

We, too, as leaders in education can achieve our mission. We can make a difference by making education an agenda and a priority.

The reward that we will reap, by investing in the education of all Sibalenhon citizens, would be enormously gratifying: it will ensure a brighter and more secure future than we could ever imagine. It will enable our children to get to where they want to be, in a position in life higher than where they had started. It will enable them to compete for the best jobs, to position themselves in business and society, and to realize their dreams of self-fulfillment and comfort.

I wish to end my remarks by quoting a paragraph from a poem I had written about a boy studying in Manila who wrote her mother for money. It goes this way:

Kada gani, Nanay, Tatay
Ako’y naghihingyo
Todohi pa baga ka inro pag-ampo
Kaling inro anak miskan asa mayado
Ako’y nag-aaray, nagpapaka-pakando

Finally, I hope we will have a productive Summit. I also hope that this Summit will be a uniting exercise, with the outcome becoming one more step forward toward a progressive Sibale.

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