(Keynote address delivered at the Education Summit organized by and held at the Concepcion National High School on December 14, 2007. The Summit, the first in Sibale, drew over 80 participants.)
Battle for hearts and mind
It is in this context that education becomes relevant.
Education will define the future as it defines the present.
It is the single most-important key to a better life, the possession that assures one who has it to be able to get to a level or situation better than where he or she started out in life. Education is an equalizer, enabling a poor boy or girl to be at par with, if not better than, a rich peer.
We know whereof we speak. We are witness to education’s liberating—both intellectual and physical—values. Without education, we would have not been equipped to articulate the dreams and visions and aspirations of our fellow Romblomanons. Without education, it would not have been possible for us to engage the leaders of the province and the larger Philippine society on questions that impact on the Filipinos’ daily lives. Without education, we would have been forever imprisoned in the limiting environment of an island—our island.
It was education that made it possible for us to explore the universal apart from the particular, to consider the particular as an essential element of the universal, and to raise the curtain to view the global stage as another arena for competition, a venue for expressing ourselves and subjecting ideas to experiment for their utility and acceptance. In short, it was education that opened for us the doors to discovery and empowerment: to be able to compete.
And it is education that will be the key to winning the battle for the hearts and minds of our people in the 21st century. It is education that will redeem us from poverty; that will open us the doors to exciting opportunities, to a better life, to a status equal to those who have it or gained it ahead of us; to a level higher than where we started out in life.
It is education that will empower us to realize our highest potential. It is education that will enable us to compete with the rest of the world and excel and be the best that we can be. For Sibalenhons all have the equal opportunity under our democratic space to realize their God-given potential.
What do we do?
Having laid down the powers of the force that is education, I now pose the question to you, our leaders: what do we do now?
What do we do to empower ourselves to compete, to realize our highest potential, to enable ourselves to rise from the limiting environment of the island, to secure our position in the Knowledge Century, and to propel all Sibalenhons to a level of socio-economic and political existence higher than where we are now? What do we do to enable us to play a greater role in the provincial, national, and global stage?
We must invest in education. This is the answer to all the above questions. As leaders, we must devote our energies, resources, and efforts to giving every Sibalenhon the best education there is, from pre-school to intermediate to secondary to technical-vocational to tertiary up to where their capacity to learn and acquire knowledge will bring them.
We suggest that as leaders, wherever in the political spectrum we belong, we should pledge to work to make the education of every Sibalenhon our highest priority, and exercise our powers and devote the resources within our disposal to ensure that Sibalenhon education will be the best in Romblon, if not in the whole Philippines.
To realize this vision-mission-goal of providing every Sibalenhon the best education, we propose the adoption of an Education Agenda consisting of the elements spelt out below.
An Education Agenda
1. All of Sibale’s nine (9) barangays should have complete free pre-school facilities.
We should start the basic education of our people at a young age. There is no excuse why we should not give them pre-school education when everyone else is doing it. The formative years of a child are the years when his or her mind is like a sponge, absorbent and open to accepting all knowledge which he or she could use later in life.
By having a complete and free pre-school system, with well-equipped facilities, tools, and well-trained teachers, we could jumpstart the education of our children in a right note and ensure that when they enter the formal school system, they would have developed the self-confidence and right mental attitude toward formal education.
We should incorporate in the pre-school system a child feeding program and allocate financial resources for it. (To be continued)