A Christmas Message from a Synergette December 21, 2010 No Comments

By: John Silva

Christmas 2010

Seeing new Synergettes at last night’s Christmas party and being described
as the “seniors” in the group, which suggests that we’re about to be put to
pasture, let me tell you a story why I have loved and am devoted to

First, it gave me bragging rights to tell my city friends that I have been
north to Cagayan and south to Tawi Tawi and further south to Panglima Sugala
where I can almost touch Borneo to teach public school teachers how to love
the arts and let that love be passed on to the students.

But it was in Barira, in the ARMM, several years back, facing a roomful of
mostly Muslim teachers, some draped in Burqa that gave me my sense of
mission in our poor benighted country.

These teachers had left their homes early in the morning to walk, tricycle,
jeep, and bus, on roads full of armalited checkpoints to get to the
community center to see some dandy turn on his powerpoint and for the next
six hours get to see the world’s most beautiful museums from Shanghai to the
Prado to our own National Museum, with their most supreme art collection.
Nudes dancing by Matisse, one eyed heads by Picasso, 14th century Iranian
lovers in embrace, the Spoliarium by Juan Luna.  Images and sculpture in
acts of love and dance and song now banned by the Muslim fundamentalists in
their part of our country.

Unintentionally I was in the midst of a culture war and though many of these
teachers were shy at first, draped in black with only sad eyes seen,
throughout the day the mood would change.  The teachers emoted, swooned,
laughed, cracked ribald jokes and in the course of a dizzying array of
transformative art works, they too were transformed.  And when I told them
that arts appreciation raised reading and comprehension levels and made
students dream, love learning, and not drop out, some would slowly raise
their veils and reveal their smiles to me.  To let me know they have learned
another way to make their students bright.  These same teachers that left
their houses on an early Saturday morning and instead of it being a rest day
and being with their own children, made the travel passing checkpoints to
get to hear this Synergette state a heretical but true point that arts gets
our kids smarter.

At around 3:30 I stopped the class and told them they must go home before it
got dark before the checkpoints become more ominous.  No, they wailed in
unison.  They wanted to see more color, more forms, more texture and lines.
They were ready to sleep the night there, on the dirt floor, if there were
more to see.

What is it that you liked about these pictures, I asked.  Was it the faces,
and bodies, the color, the dance and song that were now forbidden in a
creeping fundamentalist culture engulfing the ARMM?

There was a silence in the room, a disquieting question had just been asked.

A draped teacher slowly raised her burqa and revealed her smiling mouth.
She said slowly, hesitantly,  ”You see Sir, in my lifetime, I will probably
never see Davao.  Manila is a dream for many of us.  But today, we rode on a
magic carpet with you and we flew to palaces and museums and saw the most
beautiful works that we never imagined existed.  Share us your pictures and
we will share it with our students who we hope one day will travel to these
places and see these works of art.”

I had more pictures to share but I let them go worried about the nightfall.
They left reluctantly but were animated and excited and talked amongst each
other about what they had seen and learned.

Through the years many of us who taught in these Synergeia sponsored
training sessions always felt a deep sense of accomplishment.  We could
actually see teachers transform in front of our eyes.  And Synergeia has the
singular distinction of including arts education as an important teaching
tool.  No other organization in this country does it and I am always
grateful to Nene and to the board for believing in the educational value of

That’s why my devotion to Synergeia persists.  And why I am so happy to see
the new crop of Synergettes continue and expand the work we’ve done.

Merry Christmas.

Diamond Hotel assists Manila public schools September 6, 2010 No Comments

Diamond Hotel Philippines turned over on Sept. 1 a cash donation to Synergeia Foundation to help children in two public elementary schools in Metro Manila read better, be more adept at Math and Science, have parents that are more involved in their education, and to develop values that would mold them into better individuals and citizens.

School administrators joined Diamond Hotel and Synergeia Foundation officials during the turnover of the check worth P516,550. The donation will benefit the Fernando Guevarra Elementary School and Rafael Palma Elementary School in Manila. synergeia-diamond

“It’s very exciting to have partnerships between the private sector and schools and have officials of the companies involved directly with the activities,” said Milwida Guevara, Synergeia president and chief executive officer.

Ateneo de Manila University president and Synergeia Foundation chairman Fr. Bienvenido Nebres said collaboration between the donor and the schools are important. “Beyond the money, making time and effort to join the school activities are vital to making things work.”

Nebres and Guevara noted the need to first improve the present education system in the country by providing the needed inputs such as classrooms, reading materials, and teacher trainings as well as encouraging the active participation of all stakeholders.

“We need to address the basic needs of the students first when giving assistance; as simple as toilets in the schools,” Nebres said. “We also have other initiatives such as feeding programs and provision of eyeglasses to improve the students’ eyesight.”

Aside from the financial assistance, Diamond Hotel general manager Vanessa Suatengco pledged the company’s active involvement in the program and activities in both schools.

“There are so many things we can do together. We encourage our employees to join activities at the school and I know that the general staff would be happy to help and be involved with the programs,” Suatengco said.

Principals of the two schools thanked Diamond Hotel and Synergeia for their efforts to assist their institutions.

“This type of partnership is a big help to our public schools,” said Dr. Franklin Marcelo, principal of Rafael Palma Elementary School. “With our limited budget, your donation will go a long way.”

Herminia Gonzales, principal of Fernando Guevarra Elementary School, also welcomed the participation of Diamond Hotel in the schools activities, noting that it is a good way for donors to see what their contributions have done for the students.

Synergeia Foundation said it would conduct an education summit in each of the respective schools as a venue to consult with the stakeholders and to conduct workshops for parents, teachers, and community members

Guevarra also said having donors assist in school activities allows them to see first-hand what else can be done to help the schools. Among the activities donors can do include serving as facilitators in school programs and as teachers and tutors to low performing students.

“It really depends on what the school needs. By working together with the schools, donors can see which areas still need some assistance,” Guevarra added.###

Synergeia bids farewell to outgoing USAID official August 27, 2010 No Comments

Officers and staff of Synergeia Foundation on Aug. 18 bid farewell to outgoing USAID Office of Education chief Thomas Crehan, who served as a close partner in the Foundation’s work in pursuing educational reforms in strife-torn areas in Muslim Mindanao.

During simple ceremonies in Makati City, Synergeia President and Chief Executive Officer Milwida Guevara thanked Mr. Crehan for his unwavering support for Synergeia and its achievements as one of the implementing partners of the Education Quality and Access for Learning and Livelihood Skills (EQuALLS2) Project.

“Thank you very much for the leadership you gave EQuALLS2. I think I speak for all the partners in saying that to us you are a great inspiration,” Ms. Guevara said, adding that the outgoing USAID official has provided the organization much-needed boost throughout program implementation.

The EQuALLS2 is a project of the Department of Education (DepED) ad the US Agency for International Development (USAID), which aims to provide increased learning opportunities for elementary school children in select areas in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). It carries out activities that address high drop out rates and improve basic literacy.

Thomas Crehan with Synergeia Staff

Thomas Crehan with Synergeia Staff

The USAID-funded program also promotes capacity building among teachers, school administrators, and local government officials in select areas in the ARMM region, and provides vocational training as part of its workforce development program for out-of-school youth in beneficiary-communities.

Thus far, the EQuALLS2 program has benefitted almost 500,000 students in Mindanao, provided more than a million textbooks and other learning materials, given almost 80,000 out-of-school youths basic literacy classes and TESDA courses, repaired 223 classrooms, refurbished 342 community learning centers, supported 1,250 parent-teacher associations or similar governance structures, and trained 1,247 school administrators and officials.

Crehan said Synergeia was instrumental in the successful implementation of the EQuALLS2 program.

“I personally believe that the EQuALLS program is allowing young people to do something that they want to do – they just didn’t have the opportunity to do it… It’s a great program. It helps people who need help,” Crehan said. “I’ve been part of a very great program here and it’s very hard to leave it.”

Crehan also noted that much of the program’s success was due to the active participation and the high level of ownership that beneficiary-communities have demonstrated in the project.

“They could just sit at home, it’s easier to do nothing. But because we are able to give them that opportunity, they’re taking it,” Crahan said.

John the Silva No Comments

I do not know whether John Silva was named after John the Baptist.  But he certainly is a “voice of one crying in the wilderness”.

The abuse of midnight appointments of then President Arroyo is just one of the many advocacies of John.  In one sweep, the Chair, trustees, and the Executive Director of the National Museum were replaced.

Nobody asks John to stand for what is right and fight abuses of authority and power.  But his high sense of decency, love for the country, strong sense of history, and devotion to arts and culture, influence him to be an activist for all seasons.

John took to his heart the crusade against companies, candidates, and individuals that assault our streets with posters and streamers.  They take away from us the magic that the canopy of trees and the green rice stalks bring on our way to rural villages.  They “uglify” our country and insult our aesthetic sense.

John spoke against the construction of a fastfood restaurant in front of a historic landmark in Batangas.  John reminded us that in the face of rising commercialism, symbols and structures that stand for our glorious past should be respected.

John introduced culture, history, and arts into the programs of Synergeia.  Before his “I Love Museum” workshops, reading was just an academic program. John taught us that teachers and students who are proud of their heritage can be inspired readers.  And what better inspiration than the rich tapestry of our culture and history!  John took us centuries ago through brassware, jewelry, household items, and deities which were handcrafted by our ancestors.  He used the Manunggul jar to make us understand their aspirations for eternal life.   He made us proud of how they governed themselves during the pre-Spanish period. He made us experience sadness and anger as he showed us photographs of the execution of Dr. Jose Rizal in Bagumbayan.

John gave dignity to public school teachers as he hosted workshops in the National Museum every Saturday.    He encouraged them to take their students to the museum instead of watching “Wow Wow Wee”.  He imbued them with confidence so that they can explain the significance of the San Diego treasure. And John spent precious time preparing canapés, cheese, fruits, and ensaymada from Hizon’s so that the teachers would feel loved and pretty special.  More often than not, John spent his own money.  And the simple return to his labor of love was a “Thank you” song from the teachers.

John traveled from Cagayan to Sulu to enable as many teachers to be acquainted with their own culture.  Together with teachers from Jolo, they marveled at the trees which lined their streets for hundreds of years.  He worked with them so that they can have their own “museum corner” in their classrooms.  The teachers displayed ancient native “saya” from their great grandmothers and books like “Pepe and Pilar”.  The teachers certainly became more inspired, more creative, and deeply rooted into their culture.  And certainly, their enthusiasm and love for country were passed on to their students.

John is the first one to tell us we are wrong when our programs are not working.  “You must put a stop to your stupid revenue-mobilization program.  Instead, concentrate on influencing your friends and those of the trustees.”

John constantly reminded us that Synergeia is a coalition of diverse individuals and we must be sensitive to differences in religious beliefs and cultures.

John is always there—launching programs, influencing donors, chairing committees, manning booths during the annual “Tipanan”, facilitating workshops and education summits, editing articles, documenting best practices.

John courts trouble every time he gets his heart into an advocacy.  He puts his intellect, his spirit, and his heart into it.  John exposes the wrong that has been done and moves people into action.

And John is in trouble.  His person is being maligned.  Certainly, you do not deserve all these, John.  But I am sure you know that reformists go through pain and difficulties.  The road to heaven is strewn with rocks and thorns.

The rose that comes with the thorns is our strong faith in you and our unwavering support and gratitude.

Milwida “Nene” Guevara

Synergeia partners donate P17M to DepEd’s Adopt-A-School program August 10, 2010 No Comments

Synergeia Foundation partners donated a total of P17 million to various public elementary schools around the country as they joined the Department of Education’s (DepEd) Adopt-a-School program.

Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, Synergeia chairman and president of the Ateneo de Manila University, said the decision of their partners to participate in the program is an “important piece in the puzzle” of reforming the country’s education system.

He added that getting private organizations to support public schools is one of the steps towards building alliances among various sectors to improve the quality of basic education.

DepEd representatives led by Assistant Secretary Jonathan Malaya signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with various Synergeia donors and representatives of the selected beneficiaries and local government units.

Bernhard Krueger-Sprengel, Lufthansa President and CEO, noted that proper education is the key for Filipino children to take their place in society and become drivers of the Philippine economy.

“If this will make a difference in our children, every hour, every minute and every peso we invest are worth it,” he said. “It’s a pleasure for us to participate; it’s not only about money, it’s also about commitment.”

Under the MoU, the funds are going towards the following:

• Training of teachers in developing reading and mathematics skills of children;
• Development of instructional materials including workbooks for pupils, lesson plans, and teachers manuals;
• Training of parent leaders on responsible parenting and in supporting the learning of children at home and in school;
• Training of school administrators on management and building partnerships among major stakeholders in education;
• Performance assessment of teachers and students to assist benchmarking impact of learning programs; and
• Strengthening Local School Boards to enable them to lead and mobilize the community in implementing programs to help schools and students.

Synergeia will develop and implement the mechanisms that will promote collaboration between schools and their communities and facilitate the development and implementation of a training program for teachers and parents in collaboration with the DepEd, donors, parents, and other stakeholders in the community.

The Foundation is also in charge of the disbursement of the grant funds in accordance with the work program and will lead the evaluation of the impact of the training program on reading competencies of the targeted elementary school children.

Among the Synergeia partners who entered the government’s Adopt-A-School Program are: Alternatives Food Corporation; Citibank; Credit Suisse First Boston, Philippines; Ernst and Young; International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) Foundation; I-Remit; Lufthansa; Manila Diamond Hotel; Mr. and Mrs. Ignacio Maramba; Philippine Tatler; Phinma Foundation; San Roque Power Corporation; STEAG State Power, Inc.; Transworld Corporation; and Washington Sycip Family Foundation.

The areas and schools that now benefit from their generosity are: Liberato Damian Elementary School, Oranbo Elementary School, San Joaquin, Elementary School, Manggahan Elementary School and Maybunga Elementary School in Pasig; Bagong Tanyag Elementary School (Main, Annex A, Annex B) in Taguig; Magat Salamat Elementary School, Manuel L. Quezon Elementary School, Gen. Vicente Lim Elementary School and Rosauro Almario Elementary School (Main, Annex Isla Putting Bato Gitna, Parola Annex) in Tondo.

Also, P. Guevarra Elementary School in Binondo; Rafael Palma Elementary School; and the towns of Dao and Ivizan in Capiz; San Jose Buenavista in Antique;  Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan; Silang, Cavite; Solano, Nueva Vizcaya; Ambaguio, Nueva Vizcaya; Sta. Fe, Nueva Vizcaya; San Manuel, Pangasinan; San Nicolas, Pangasinan; Itogon, Benguet; Villanueva, Misamis Oriental; Kawit, Cavite; Misamis Oriental; and Sarangani.

Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, Synergeia chairman and president of the Ateneo de Manila University, and Mr. Bernhard Krueger-Sprengel, Lufthansa President and CEO sign a Memorandum of Understanding at the Ateneo Professional Schools, Rockwell Center in Makati City.

Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, Synergeia chairman and president of the Ateneo de Manila University, and Mr. Bernhard Krueger-Sprengel, Lufthansa President and CEO sign a Memorandum of Understanding at the Ateneo Professional Schools, Rockwell Center in Makati City.

Over 300 out-of-school youth in Maguindanao town finish vocational courses July 31, 2010 1 Comment

More than 300 out-of-school youths from various villages in the upland town of Upi in Maguindanao province graduated with Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) certificates in vocational courses under the livelihood skills training program of the Education Quality and Access for Learning and Livelihood Skills (EQuALLS20 Project of the Philippine government and the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

During simple ceremonies at the Upi Municipal Gymnasium on July 23, 2010, 303 enrollees from 10 barangays received accreditation in food processing, baking/breadmaking, welding, electronics servicing, small engine servicing, and house wiring installation.

These courses were organized by Synergeia Foundation, which implements the EQuALLS2 Project in Upi and other conflict-affected areas in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

“My welding skills will increase my chances of getting a job, since I now have multiple skills that are necessary in the metal works industry. While looking for a job, though, I can help in my father’s blacksmith shop,” said Rosenie Sarmiento, Jr., one of the graduates.

EQuALLS2-Synergeia Program Officer Florendo Guevara was looking forward to replicating Upi’s success in other towns.

“I am always inspired by Upi because this has always been our model community. This community has not only exceeded our targets for formal education, now we are seeing our out-of-school youths graduate through our alternative learning system,” said Mr. Guevara.

“What we’re really showing here is that if we can do it in Upi, we can do it in other towns in Mindanao as well.”

Upi Mayor Ruben Platon thanked USAID, Synergeia, TESDA, local officials, and other concerned groups for organizing and implementing the workforce development program for the town’s out-of-school youth, saying this will do much in helping alleviate the town’s high incidence of poverty.

Guevara also indicated plans by the local government in Upi to provide seed money and form a cooperative per village where graduates of these vocational courses can be employed and make use of their newly acquired skills.

Synergeia will also provide local business and other citizens with a list of all its EQuALLS2 graduates with TESDA accreditation to make it easy to match demand for skills with skilled graduates looking for job opportunities.

The EQuALLS2 Project helps improve basic education and offers alternative learning and livelihood training opportunities to out-of-school youth in areas most affected by conflict and poverty in Mindanao.

Sharing the gift of reading July 22, 2010 No Comments

By Ruffy Villanueva
July 22, 2010

When Grade One pupils in Sual Central School in Pangasinan were tested for reading proficiency from July 24 to 27, 2009, school administrators confirmed a hard fact: nine out of 10 pupils could not read and only 2% of the students were reading at the appropriate level. (View test results here) to chart)


Almost half (or 48%) of the pupils were classified as “frustrated readers” or those who commit numerous types of errors in oral reading and show signs of withdrawing from any opportunity to read.

Grappling for solutions to the problem, school authorities, teachers, and parents found hope when Project JOHN (Joint Opportunities in Helping New readers) was launched in the school.

The project – a partnership among Synergeia Foundation, the Sual municipal government, administrators, teachers, students, and parents – aims to help Sual Grade One pupils overcome their difficulty in reading through the collective effort of all stakeholders.

By the end of the school year, new reading test results showed the effectiveness of interventions initiated to improve children’s reading skills.

Based on the new test results:

  • There was a significant decrease in the number of non-readers, from 93% (nine out of 10 pupils) in July to 32% (three out of 10 pupils) by the end of the school year;
  • There was an increase in the number of primer readers from 3% to 17%;
  • From 2%, 13% of Sual’s Grade One pupils were already reading at the appropriate level; and
  • 28% became advanced readers.

Much remains to be done for Sual Grade One pupils who still cannot read. But for proponents of Project JOHN, these numbers are already a reason for them to smile.

How did proponents of Project JOHN do it?

Engaging the Community in Action

Guided by the adage that it takes a village to raise a child, Synergeia organized a pool of education stakeholders at the local community and discussed specific steps on how to work together so that quality education can be achieved and sustained.

A Project Management Team (PMT) was formed with representatives from all stakeholders—district and school administrators, local government unit executives, parents, and students—and specific goals were set. The PMT was tasked to develop a work program, mobilize and manage needed resources, coordinate activities, and evaluate the progress and impact of the project.

The mission for the PMT members was clear: to enable Sual Central School Grade One pupils to read by the end of the school year.


Distribution of Workbooks

The inability of a child to read greatly affects his performance in school. A child who knows how to read will be able to learn all other subject matters in school. Better reading means better schoolwork, better preparation for the future and greater personal and social accomplishments,” Synergeia Foundation stated in its Progress Report on Project JOHN.

Conversely, not being able to read means poor school work and poor preparation for the future. This begs the question: ‘How then can we help out students to read?’”

To enable the pupils to practice reading, age-appropriate English workbooks were distributed to all Grade 1 pupils in Sual’s public schools. These cover lessons for the entire school year and were designed to reinforce learning inside the classroom.

By providing students with work exercises on their day-to-day lessons, the pupils developed and improved their mastery of subjects taught in school. Exercises also enabled students to interpret lessons learned, make inferences, and apply these to new situations. Exercises provided opportunities for creativity in drawings, songs (they composed their own!), and recited poems using new sounds and words.

These workbooks were complemented with Teachers’ Manuals that provide teachers with a ready reference for their daily lessons. The manuals provided inputs for the teacher to fully discuss the different topics programmed for the entire school year, while incorporating value formation as well as fun and enjoyment in the learning process.  The lessons included activities such as games, poem/rhyme recitation, group singing and storytelling.

Teacher Training

The Project Management Team (PMT) found out that much like students, teachers also needed to be assessed and given refresher courses to help them teach better. Specifically, teachers needed more training on sounds, pronunciation, and grammar. They also needed to learn more strategies in effectively teaching English as a subject.

Partnering with the University of Pangasinan, Project JOHN conducted its first Teachers Training to 27 Grade One teachers, 19 English coordinators and 19 school administrators on October 8 and 9, 2009 using the Synergeia Reading Skills Module. School officials and supervisors also participated in the training.

The training provided teachers the opportunity to improve their communication skills and to develop strategies to help children decode words and to develop comprehension. “We learned so much from this training and from our very able trainors. We have also improved our pronunciation, stress and diction. That’s why I can say that this seminar is a successful one and a great help to us Grade One teachers,” Mrs. Rudella Labarejos, a Grade One teacher from Cacao Elementary School, said.

The training also increased teachers’ capability to train and mentor other teachers on how children can read, speak, understand, and write in English effectively and how to assess the pupils’ reading performance.


Empowering Sual Parents

Recognizing that a child’s first teacher are his parents, Project JOHN made it possible to hold a workshop for parents that will give them guidance on how they can help improve the learning performance of their children, how they can strengthen their studies habits and why it is important to foster closer working relations with the school.

The first Parents Training of Sual was conducted on November 26, 2009 at the Sual Central School, attended by 81 parent-leaders from 27 Grade One sections in the school.

Members of the Federated PTA of Sual and the PMT members who were also parents themselves served as resource trainors and were each assigned to cover a topic using the Synergeia Parent Training Module.

According to Mrs. Josefina Verzosa, Project JOHN Program Manager and DepEd District Supervisor in Pangasinan, aside from reinforcing earlier efforts to improve the pupils’ reading skills, school teachers and the pupils themselves can do much to help non-readers appreciate – and benefit – from reading.

While Project JOHN has achieved victories in its first year, much remains to be done for our pupils who still cannot read. We highly encourage that more attention be given to the slow readers for them to be able to catch up with the rest of their classmates and encourage the 10 percent advanced readers to help their classmates be able to read,” Ms. Verzosa said.

Dolch Sight Word Pre-Test


Dolch Sight Word Post-Test


Engaging Sual communities in education December 28, 2009 No Comments

KZ Abesamis
Program Officer
December 28, 2009

Nine out of 10 Grade One students in Sual, Pangasinan, a province north of the nation’s capital, cannot read.

Based on the Dolch Test, an internationally recognized test composed of more than 220 words that children encounter in printed form even before they go to school, 93 percent are non-readers. The test measures both sight recognition and pronunciation.

To many parents, the test results were painful, but were not a surprise. They said they knew their children were not doing well in school, and admitted that they have not been doing much about it. But the good news is that Sual’s parents are now willing to shake things up and be smarter about their children’s education.

Synergeia Foundation’s approach in municipalities it is now working with shows that if educators, local government units, and communities want to make real progress toward meeting their goals in English and other subjects, it is critical that they actively engage parents as partners. And if parents want their kids to perform well, they cannot be curious bystanders. They must actively support and gently encourage their children to excel.

This is exactly what the Municipality of Sual did.

A Project Management Team (PMT) created to help children excel conducted a Parent-Leaders Workshop last August 26, 2009 where 80 Grade One parents from 19 public schools in Sual participated. Each grade one section was represented by three parent-leaders who in turn would cascade the training to fellow grade one parents through a mentoring program. It was a first for Sual and as one parent said, “napakasaya namin at nabigyan kami ng pagkakataong mapagbuti namin ang aming mga sarili para sa kapakanan ng aming mga anak.” (We are so happy that we were given a chance to improve ourselves for the sake of our children.)

Empowering parents is one of Synergeia’s thrusts in improving the quality of education. The Foundation believes that parents play a big part in students’ performance, not just inside the classroom, but most especially at home. In this Parent-Leaders Workshop, the facilitators were none other than members of the Federated Parent-Teachers Association, a barangay (village) captain, a barangay kagawad (village councilor) and a Municipal Councilor.

They discussed topics such as, “Edukasyon – Pinakamahalagang pamana ng magulang sa anak at ang kahalagahan ng edukasyon sa pag-aaral”, “Tungkulin ng magulang sa edukasyong at pagkilala at pakikipagtulungan sa paaralan”, “Pagpapaigting ng uganyang magulang at guro”, “Mga istratehiya sa pagpapabuti ng study habits ng ating anak” and “Pagpapaunlad ng mga kapuri-puring gawa at mababuting asal”, among others. Each facilitator had his own workshop in which they engaged parents through interactive and fun activities, forums, and games.

Each workshop had a set of questions which were answered by parents and written down on meta cards. The facilitators summarized the points and reported to everyone at the end of each workshop.

That afternoon, Synergeia program officer in Sual, KZ Abesamis, received a call from PMT Director Josefina Verzosa, who is the DepEd District Supervisor. She excitedly relayed that the PTA is now planning a mentoring program for next year.

“Hindi mapapantayan ang saya ng mga magulang at naming mga taga Sual dahil sa tulong na pinagkaloob ninyo. Salamat sa pag enable sa mga magulang, hindi ito mababaliwala,” she said. (The happiness of the parents and all of us from Sual is overflowing because of your help. Thank you for enabling the parents; your help will not fall on deaf ears.)

Kawit, Cavite: Seeking greater heights October 12, 2009 No Comments

By Carmel Habito

October 12, 2009

When most students are showing relatively good performances in school, has quality education been achieved? Should education issues then give way to other priorities?

The people of Kawit, Cavite do not think so.

A typical Grade 6 student in Kawit scores 75.63% in the National Achievement Test, an average that is relatively high compared to other districts. But the education stakeholders of Kawit are not willing to settle for “satisfactory” nor “mediocre.” They want the children of Kawit to excel.

During Synergeia’s first meeting with Kawit’s parents and leaders, we discovered that they are intent on further raising the bar. Education stakeholders, including the local government, want to improve what they can, and they are committed to take the steps to give Kawit’s children much more than they now have. They want to realize their dream of equal access to education by simultaneously helping schools that are having difficulties, and improving those that are already performing well.

Parents, they agreed, have a big role to play. Children spend most of their time at home more than they do in school—this is why what parents do, say, and teach their children play an essential part in the young ones’ development. Kawit wants to develop the abilities and skills of parents in aiding children in their studies through seminars, livelihood programs, and values formation. They also want to address the lack in instructional needs such as workbooks, as well as the problem of overcrowding in classrooms.

Vice Mayor Orange Aguinaldo said, “Quality education can be easier to achieve if it is deeply prioritized by the local government and if education programs are highly supported by them”.  Congressman Jun Abaya agreed, saying better governance is needed. People, he said, should be responsible and vigilant about what their local administrators are doing so that they will not be given a chance to “wreak havoc” on communities.

“Education is still the great equalizer,” says Mr. Abaya. Even though a person is poor, as long as he is educated, he has a chance in life. Meeting together as one to identify the needs and the priorities is one step Kawit’s leaders and parents have taken towards that.

A Project Management Team to start the program rolling is currently being formed. Once the team is composed, expectations are high that Kawit will start reaching greater heights in terms of educating the nation’s future—the youth.

Pasig adopts ‘PEDRO’ September 25, 2009 No Comments

Back in September 2008, Congressman Roman Romulo, a Synergeia ally and supporter,  planted the seeds for the transformation of Pasig City when he articulated  his dream  for his hometown at an education governance meeting.

“My vision of Pasig is to become a haven for trade and investments, producer of quality work force, and a better quality of life for Pasigeños. Children who gain access to quality education  will  have better  opportunities. Quality  basic education is the key to one’s success,” said the Congressman.

It didn’t take long for stakeholders to start the ball rolling. From that meeting, education stakeholders led by Cong. Roman formed themselves into a Project Management Team to steer  the Pasig education program. Kawshik Sehwani, a PMT member and business partner, gave a commitment to provide resources for the program. He had one request: “I want to see results,” he said.

Pasig Division Office Superintendent Dr. Florentina Lizano and heads of the five pilot schools, namely Liberato Damian, San Joaquin, Oranbo, Manggahan, and Maybunga, promised to provide 100-percent support. Teachers,  parent leaders, and barangay officials promised to invest time and effort for the sake of their children.

The PMT adopted the name PEDRO, which stands for  Pasig Education Resource and Outreach. PEDRO will enable 4,074 Grades 1 and 2 pupils to read, write, and speak English well and develop skills in numeracy.

PEDRO  is a package of interventions that include programs in teacher development, parenting, developing child friendly environment, providing workbooks and instructional materials, developing enrichment activities for pupils,   establishing a system of incentives for teachers and benchmarking of performance.

To jumpstart the program, a five-day  teachers training  was conducted in April 2009.  The training focused on enriching the content of English and Math and improving  skills in delivery  of instructions.

Parents of the Manggahan Elementary School conducted remdiation for non-readers using Synergeia modules and materials. True to his word, Mr. Sehwani gave television sets for the children’s enrichment activities.

With Synergeia’s technical guidance, the Pasig PMT is committed to making  PEDRO a champion  in education reform.