My first on-site visit was at San Joaquin Elementary School for the Education Summit this morning. I managed not to get lost going to Pasig (city proper) taking only two modes of transportation: the bus from my place going to Crossing, and a jeep going to San Joaquin. I left the house at 7 in the morning and arrived at around 8:10 at my destination. Parents were already arriving one by one and I saw Ms. Annie from across the covered court.
The Education Summit is sponsored by Congressman Ramon Romulo. Of the many public schools in Pasig, 5 schools were selected to undergo the one year program. The aim of this project is to increase the NAT or National Achievement Test scores of Grade 1 students. How do we do that? Of course, with the participation of parents.
The passing score as we all know is 85, yet the highest in Pasig was only at a measly 58 percent (average for Math and English). That means that in 10 Math questions, only 5 are answered correctly. Same goes for English. The goal is to increase it to 85 percent, or at least 8 of 10 correct answers. It is not surprising that all public schools in Pasig fared well in Filipino. The highest was at 79 percent.
Parents are important because not all learning can be gained in school. Teachers can only do so much, but it is the parents’ responsibility to further teach their children. This summit gathered around 500 parents this morning. Special guests were DEPED Division and District Supervisors and Superintendent, DEPED Officials, staff of Cong. Romulo, Synergeia (Annie, me, Nicole and Aiza) and of course, the parents of the grade 1 students of San Joaquin Elementary School. Since it was my first sabak, Dr. G assigned me to do documentation report (from all the speeches, the results of the 3-hour workshop, the resolutions arrived at).
The parents had to answer three important questions:
Ano ang aking pangarap para sa aking anak sa kaniyang pag-aaral?
Ano ang mga suliranin o issues na may kinalaman sa pagaaral ng aking anak?
Ano ang maaari kong gawin upang makatulong sa mabuting pagaaaral ng ating anak?
Synergeia works to empower these parents. We do not spoon feed or give them the answers or the program itself. It has to come from them. What I like about this approach is that it gives parents greater responsibility towards their children. In a way, it forces them to be responsible and to be better parents to their kids.
When Congressman Romulo came, all eyes were on who arrived with him: Karen Davila. Showbiz?! Actually, he explained that it was his nephew (or a relative of his) that was being confirmed today, and he came in as ninong while Karen was Ninang. So he invited her to come attend the event. And you know how Filipinos are at the mere sight of a celebrity or public figure. Madaling ma-excite ang mga tao at mabuhayan makakita lang ng artista. The atmosphere became more ‘festive’ and alive.
When Karen was asked to give an impromptu speech, I doubt she would have a hard time. After all, she is a newscaster. But what I liked about what she said this morning was how she was able to relate to the parents, seeing that she herself was one. She shared to everyone how she flunked her first Math test in college, and how her son is also having a difficult time with Math.
Then she gave three important pointers: One, watch what your children eat. Angkop ba ang pinapakain sa mga anak ninyo o baka kung ano ano lang yan? Because we are what we eat. Kung puro junk food lang ang kinakain nila, malamang utak junk food din. They have to feed their children the right food. It doesn’t have to be expensive, it just has to be healthy. Second, be strict with their sleeping time. Most of the parents voiced out their concerns over too much watching TV and playing computer that actually take up their kids’ homework time. It is imperative that they do not lack sleep, otherwise they will have little energy left for the next day. So parents have to be strict in enforcing discipline to sleep at a particular time. Third and last pointer: Help them with their homeworks! She’d love for them to watch ABS-CBN teleseryes, but not at the expense of doing homeworks. When it’s time to do homework, parents should help their kids. They should spend TIME with them.
These three things are what parents can give their children: Pagkain, oras, disiplina.
And as I stood there listening to her, it dawned on me that of all the messages that were delivered, hers struck me and had the most recall. Just three simple pointers that all parents can understand. I guess that’s why she is an effective speaker. She holds her audience down to the basics. And all this was even just impromptu. And she reminded me so much of my mom in the way she delivered her speech. My mom was a Toastmaster area Governor for quite a number of years, and have won various speech contests. When it came to impromptu speaking, she always made sure her speech is concise, easy to remember, and direct to the point. Like what Karen did, she always has that introduction, body and conclusion, including the reasons (reason 1, reason 2, reason 3). Hay. Talented people inspire me.
We had lunch at the school canteen, and it made me nostalgic. I remembered my elementary canteen and just the ‘smallness’ of the place where good and bad memories were made. Naalala ko tuloy nung elementary ako and i was even more proud to have been part of this project: I know the importance of Education, especially in these formative years of a child. And the public school system is not all that bad, especially in Pasig where we visited. Manila, as explained to us by the DEPED Superintendent, had a different structure and that’s where you usually see the classrooms overflowing with students and having only one teacher. This school, particularly, was bigger and more spacious, but flooding is a regular problem. (Let’s leave that to the local government).
I also thought of my Highschool Principal Ms. Fajardo. She is like our second parent in school. Keren and I spent most of our Junior and Senior year in her office, and not because we were in trouble. Of course not :-) studious yata ito at paborito ng Principal. Kapag naghahabulan nga kami ng mga kaklase ko ng walis, magtatago ako sa office ni Ms. Fajardo at hindi sila makakapasok. “Ms Fajardo! Si patrick may walis oh!” Haha. She was our mentor, and she was also a Christian. Ms. Fajardo guided me in the Student Council, in Girl Scout, in UNESCO, in Children and Peace, in projects outside Manila. And whenever we had problems, she was our ready ear. She never forgets our birthday and always had ‘special’ gifts for us on normal days. And it was not only because she was our Advisor in the Student council. Our relationship with her was more like family. She taught me a lot about school, and it was more than just academics.
Kaya naman masaya ako that this program does not merely aim to increase students’ grades. During the workshop, character formation was brought up many times. And guess who’s at the forefront of character development? The parents, of course!
I had fun today. I really did. I don’t mind the traveling, I don’t mind that my co-project officers are scaring me with the prospect of being sent to Mindanao. (Sir Dindo’s first assignment was Tawi-Tawi, kamusta naman!) But I’m glad Dr. G sent me to Pasig today for exposure. I gained more than that. I gained a deeper appreciation to Education, to the great responsibility parents have over our studies, more respect for our underpaid educators, and to the partnership we continue to forge with many different sectors of the society to make Education in our country a priority.