|Lessons in Excellence: A Challenge to Philippine Schools Overseas|
On 4-6 May 2009, the Inter-Agency Committee on Philippine Schools Overseas (IACPSO) conducted the 8th Conference of Philippine Schools Overseas at the Royal Mandaya Hotel in Davao City. Seventy-four school managers, administrators, school principals, school boards and teachers from 36 Philippine schools in Greece, Hong Kong, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Libya, Oman, Tripoli, and United Arab Emirates attended the conference.
This three-day conference had for its theme "Transforming Schools: Lessons in Excellence." Assistant Secretary Teresita G. Inciong of the Department of Education, in her keynote speech, said that she envisioned all Philippine schools overseas to become models of excellence. She stressed that achieving excellence is a collaborative effort between the school managers, teachers, students and the community, combined with the school's strategic planning for progress.
The DepEd defines an excellent school as an institution with learners who have high academic performance, value-laden, critical thinkers, productive and creative, highly motivated and actively involved in school and community activities. Its school heads and teachers have a clear understanding of the objectives of the school and the needs of the learners, and who are highly motivated to grow personally and professionally. It has a program that provides rich learning opportunities. It is able to maximize its resources, its goals are periodically set and examined. It is a school that enjoys high public confidence and active partnership with the community.
To establish excellence, the DepEd stresses the importance of information and communications technology in education. It provides the participants with updates in the enriched elementary and secondary curriculum, innovation in the classroom teaching-learning management and the National Competency-Based Teacher Standards.
The conference planning workshop gave the participants a chance to formulate recommendations for the advancement of the PSO academic standards, teacher development, student services, school management, and community relations, among others. The recommendations focused on the conduct of adequate academic contests and extra-curricular activities for PSO students to enhance their various talents and skills. For the teacher development, the facilitation of on-line graduate and post-graduate studies for PSO teachers as well as the administration of the on-site PRC Licensure Examination for Teachers was proposed. The workshop also recommended that all schools strive to acquire DepEd Certificate of Recognition and accreditation by the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities or any other accrediting institution.
Secretary Dante A. Ang, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas, in his message at the close of the conference, posed several challenges. He was hopeful that the participants would continuously promote Philippine education overseas and demonstrate commitment to excellence and quality education. He encouraged the school managers and teachers to add Grades 11 and 12 to the school's curriculum to equip the graduates of PSOs with a richer academic experience and make them globally competitive. He also challenged the participants to make the Philippine schools overseas comparable to the Philippines' best.
To support the vision of excellence for Philippine schools overseas and to respond to the challenges posed by Secretary Ang, the IACPSO came up with a plan of action based on the output of the planning workshop. It includes the deployment of an education attaché in one of the countries hosting Philippine schools. The education attaché will look into the operation of PSOs and coordinate between the Philippines and the Ministry of Education of the host country. The Committee also plans to conduct the Licensure Examination for Teachers in 2010 in coordination with the Professional Regulation Commission to enhance the academic instruction in Philippine schools overseas. The 2nd Annual Literary Competition for Buwan ng Wika 2009 was also launched to develop the creativity and writing skills in Filipino among students of PSOs. For the academic contest, the First Science Investigatory Project Competition will be conducted this year to encourage students to be scientific, technology- able and research- oriented individuals.