TWENTY-four local government units (LGUs) were given the “Seal of Good Education Governance” for their commitment and staunch advocacy for basic education at the 11th National Education Summit at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City on Friday.
Synergeia Foundation grants the yearly citation that comes with a P1.5 million package from PLDT Smart Communications.
Milwida Guevarra, the Synergeia chief executive officer, said the award was for LGUs “that have been committed and most dynamic in their advocacy of education.”
The first batch of awardees were: Alimodon, IloIlo; Argao, Cebu; Bacnotan, La Union; Balamban, Cebu; Bongao, Tawi-Tawi; Cabatuan, IloIlo; Cagayn de Oro, Misamis Oriental; Concepcion, IloIlo; Dalaguete, Cebu; Dao, Capiz; Datu Paglas, Maguindanao; Diadi, Nueva Vizcaya; Diffun, Quirino; Ivisan, Capiz; Lambunao, IloIlo; Miagao, IloIlo; Mina, IloIlo; North Upi, Maguindanao; Santol, La Union; Simunul, Tawi-Tawi; Solano, Nueva Vizcaya; Villaverde, Nueva Vizcaya; Tuba, Benguet; and Valenzuela City in Metro Manila.
“The award is not forever, so they can loss it next year, that’s why they [LGUs] have to continuously strive to be part of the Seal of Good Education Governance,” Guevarra said in an interview.
“It’s a standard that they (LGUs) should attain because all local chief executives must give children better education,” she said.
Guevarra, however, noted that even the highly urbanized cities and those that have so much resources do not have an assurance that they will get this Seal of Good Education Governance unless they maximize their resources for programs that deliver good basic education.
“Even if they have millions of funds, but if it doesn’t show in the performance of their children and it doesn’t translate into governance because their planning is centered on the mayor or the superintendent, they will not produce results. It is critical to make strategic investments to provide training for teachers as well as parents,” she said.
Guevarra said the Seal of Good Education Governance was the idea of the late Interior secretary and former Naga City mayor Jesse Robredo.
“I think the Seal should be used as a benchmark of excellence, so the community should ask why don’t we have the seal. The people are not asking whether their children are getting the best education. So we should all be involved, and hopefully this seal is going to be a great advocacy,” she said.
Rex Gatchalian, mayor of Valenzuela City, the only city in Metro Manila given the award, said the local government unit has to take the driver’s seat to push the public education system forward.
“The local government should serve as the Department of Education’s co-pilot because the central government is too big and sometimes information cascades very slowly. The LGUs should not wait for national government to act. In Valenzuela City, we took that initiative to be the partner of government for education advocacy,” Gatchalian said.
“We have to put education on top of the list so it becomes a priority in governance,” he added, saying, “Our SEF (Special Education Fund) is around P500 million to 600 million, plus another P100 million from the general fund, so around P700 million is budgeted for education annually.”
Jayson Gonzales, mayor of Lambunao in IloIlo, said activating the school governing council is very important so that all stakeholders can participate in the improvement of education.
“Activating the school governing council is one way of soliciting the support of the whole community. The council is multi-sectoral and we expanded our school board which we patterned after the Jesse Robredo model in Naga City so all the sectors have contributed,” Gonzales said.
“By educating more people, your town will be more progressive so work on raising the number of high school and college graduates. It underscores the value of raising human capital to improve the quality of the work force. This must start at the grassroots level,” he added.
As an indicator of performance, the LGU must have a high number of grade one students who finish at least grade six and a steadily improving performance in the national achievement test.
The Special Education Fund must also be used on activities that promote learning. Possible incentives are the installation and maintenance of Wi-Fi hotspots in public areas and provision of InfoCast, a web-based solution that will allow LGUs to broadcast announcements and receive feedback via text message.
For local government units in remote areas, there is the option to provide a satellite-based communication solution that provides voice, SMS, and data services or the Smart School-in-a-Bag, which contains a solar panel to serve schools without electricity, devices, curriculum-based educational content, teacher training, monitoring, and evaluation.