The Next Bold Step Forward on the occasion of the Ibabao-Estancia Elementary School’s

Stakeholders’ Summit 2022

Delivered by Hon. Romulo P. Echavez Jr

A Message of Support

A few days from now, on June 11, 2022, we will be

observing World Population Day. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic,

the world’s population has grown to 8 billion. “In an ideal world, 8

billion people means 8 billion opportunities for healthier societies

empowered by rights and choices,” envisions the UN. Can we say the

same for Philippine education? As the number of school children

continue to rise and as we face the challenges of returning to

face-to-face or onsite learning, can we say that we have as many

educational opportunities as there are learners?

The latest cumulative data from 2010 to 2020 from the United

Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) show that the total

net enrolment rate for primary education in the country is at 97%, with

gender parity index at .99 revealing that there are just as many boys as

there are girls enrolled in elementary schools in the country. These

statistics paint both a hopeful picture and a challenging landscape not

only for VP Sara Duterte and our leaders in the Department of

Education and CHED, but more so for all of us as stakeholders in

ensuring that every boy and girl recovers from the academic losses due

to the pandemic; that every learner has access to educational

opportunities and moves up or graduates far more empowered by their

rights and choices than the day they entered the school campus.

So much depends on each one of us. Our learners look up to

us to make each of these dreams a reality. Recently, we have heard our

leaders remind us of goals that we have staked out for ourselves

generations before. English proficiency? Nationalism through

mandatory ROTC? Increased reading comprehension? Better

performance or aptitude in the core subjects of science, mathematics,

and English? That our children are well-trained and well-educated so

they become well-rounded, contributing, and productive citizens? Are

these new goals? Hardly. They have been goals of our educationists

long before PBBM. They predate the visions of VP and Secretary of

Education Sara Duterte, of the previous Education Secretary, and the

secretaries before her.

So why have we been unable to attain these educational

objectives? The answers will depend on who you ask. Whoever youask and whatever answers you will get, all I hope for is that we do not

stop there and like Pres. Ferdinand Marcos Jr in his Inaugural Address

tell ourselves and others that we will not stop at excuses, but deliver. In

order to do this however, we will have to have clear methods. Here, I

share three humble ones. The first is something I learned from

psychometrician Mark Piedad, principal of Canico P. Iriberri National

High School. It is that we should avoid needlessly restarting projects,

programs, or activities. I learned from Principal Piedad that too much

of our time and valuable resources are eaten up by years of looping

through projects that never seem to fly off the ground.

The second, is to take heed of a lesson from the sci-fi saga

Star Wars’ Mandalorian Armorer: “Persistence without insight will

lead to the same outcome.” When we persist in doing what we have

always done, failing to take insight from it, we will keep coming back

to the same poor outcomes. The third is, like the two others, nothing

new, but if put to good use will I think bring us as stakeholders closer

to what we have put before us as educational objectives. In fact, it was

stated by PBBM himself: “Do not be afraid….I have 110 million

reasons to start with.” In our case, we are expected to have more than

26 million reasons to see our dreams into fruition.

Practical things we can do to take these steps are to implement

the next phases in our programs. School year 2022-2023 should be

about Stage 2, Phase 3, or Level IV. We cannot keep coming back to

square one on our drawing boards. As school heads, what are the next

implementation stages of last year’s public-private partnerships? As a

subject coordinator, what are parts of last year’s module can be be

improved? As a PTA officer, what steps can be taken to sustain the

gains from last year’s Memoranda of Understanding or Agreement?

As stakeholders let us learn from our mistakes. We cannot be

blindly persistent. We must have learned something from our

pandemic experience. What lessons did we take from the difficulties

we went through? How can we improve on knowledge delivery? What

have we taken from the disruptive technologies of the past two

pandemic years? And taking from our nation’s leader, we should not

let fear pull us back. We may fear what the next turn has in store for us.

Let us remember that we will have more than the 26,308,875 learners

of SY 2021-2022 to draw inspiration from. Not a step back! Let us

move forward. This Stakeholder’s Summit should ensure that too. No

more recycling. No more restarting. Let us take the next bold step

forward. Mabuhay tayong lahat!


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