Seventy representatives from 31 Philippine schools in Bahrain, China, East Timor, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, and United Arab Emirates and one alternative learning center in Sabah came to Manila on 17 – 20 May 2016 to attend the 14th Conference of Philippine Schools Overseas at The Diamond Hotel Philippines.
The conference theme, “K to 12 and the PSO Community – the Best is Yet to Come!” highlights the value of the basic education reform and the key role of the Philippine Schools Overseas (PSO) to produce globally competitive graduates.
This year’s conference aimed to provide updates on the emergent concerns and issues relative to the implementation of K to 12 in PSOs and to share experiences in the management of change during the transition period. The conference also intends to identify innovative methodologies and resource gaps in the delivery of the K to 12 curriculum and the corresponding solutions to meet accreditation requisite.
The conference was formally opened by three members of the Inter-Agency Committee on Philippine Schools Overseas (IACPSO) represented by Undersecretary Ciriaco Lagunzad III of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Usec. Mary Grace Tirona of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) and Br. Armin A. Luistro of the Department of Education (DepEd).
The conference participants were welcomed by Undersecretary Tirona, who reiterated the commitments of the Inter-Agency Committee on Philippine Schools Overseas (IACPSO) to the PSO community, which is to assure the best possible common future for the children of the hardworking Overseas Filipinos.
Undersecretary Lagunzad, in his message to the participants, said that with reforms like K to 12 in place, the participants can look forward with optimism that our future human resource will be ready and will have the adaptive capacity to survive, to excel and to secure decent and productive work.
In his keynote speech, Secretary Luistro explained that the K to 12 reform is not just about adding two years of education. The heart of the reform is so much deeper and takes on at least one generation to complete the process. He added that the heart of education is planting seeds that will grow on its own. But for the time being, that seed will have to dig itself under the fertile soil before we can harvest its fruits.
He also mentioned that the best examples of successful schools come from the experience of best practice of consortiums. Thus, he encouraged the PSOs that for them to become successful, they should work together and learn to look for those that bind rather than divide. Lastly, Secretary Luistro reiterated the role of PSOs in education which is to show that Filipinos can be global citizens capable of returning home and reattaching themselves with their own identity as Filipinos.
The first plenary session began with the discussion by Dr. Maria Cynthia Rose B. Bautista, Commissioner of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), on the “Rationale of the Paradigm Shift in K to 12 and Higher Education”. According to her, the K to 12 and related reforms aim to provide quality education at all levels and to keep the Philippines at par with its ASEAN neighbors by leveraging the students’ enhanced capabilities for regional and national development and global competitiveness.
DepEd Undersecretary Dina S. Ocampo’s presentation about ‘K to 12 Updates on the Operationalization of Senior High School (SHS) in PSOs” focused on the application and online inspection processes, data on the PSOs with SHS permits and the next steps to undertake.
The first day ended with the discussion on “Effective Leadership and Management of Change Experiences in the Implementation of the K to 12 Reform” by Dr. Carmela C. Oracion, School Principal of the Ateneo de Manila High School. She explained that school administrators and teachers must learn to conquer their fears brought about by the change.
The second day of the conference began with a roundtable discussion on the sharing of the following PSO Administrators concerning the K to 12 Implementation in their respective schools, namely:
The above-mentioned administrators discussed briefly their school’s profile and focused their discussion on the challenges and adjustments that their schools have encountered in relation to the implementation of the K to 12 program. They were also able to share their school’s timeline on the application for permit to operate the SHS Program, specifically the preparations done by their schools in order to meet DepEd’s requirements before they qualify for the online ocular inspection.
Director Jocelyn DR. Andaya of the DepEd’s Bureau of Curriculum Development and Chair of the Senior High School National Task Force (SHS-NTF) talked about the “Implications of K to 12 Tracks/Strands Subject Area Delivery on Resource Development – SHS implementation in selected PSOs”. She encouraged the PSOs to continuously reinforce the fundamental skills by always taking into consideration the K to 12 Basic Education Curriculum Framework’s purpose of producing holistically developed Filipinos with 21st century skills.
In the afternoon of Day 2, Dr. Ma. Lourdes A. Carandang, President and Founder of the MLAC Institute for Psychosocial Services, Inc., discussed about “Understanding the Digital Generation”. She explained self-regulation through EQ development and training, the impact of cyberbullying leading to depression and ways to deal with depression in the family.
The last session in the afternoon was a roundtable discussion on the “K to 12 Strands/Tracks Career Options/Opportunities in a Glocal World”. Resource persons who are successful in their respective fields have been invited to provide career options for the students, in the Philippines and abroad, who will be interested to enroll in the different tracks/strands in SHS.
Dr. Aura C. Matias, Dean of the UP college of Engineering and Dr, Fabian Antonio M. Dayrit, President, Integrated Chemists of the Philippines, talked about the career options in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) strand. For the career options in the Tech-Voc (Technical Vocational) Track, Ms. Beatrice G. Quimson, Deputy Executive Director of the e-Society, Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO) in the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and Ms. Marie Grace A. Dimaranan, Director of the Animation Council of the Philippines, talked about the ICT strand and Arts and Design Track, respectively.
The third day of the conference focused on eLearning – Education Beyond Borders. The session started with the presentation of Director Richard P. Burgos of Science & Technology Information Institute of the DOST about the Science and Technology Academic and Research Based Openly Operated Kiosks (STARBOOKS). Director Burgos explained that the STARBOOKS is a digital library for science and technology and livelihood information that can permanently store information and materials and be updated regularly. STARBOOKS is a stand-alone on-site research and information kiosk that provides free access to information, and is highly appropriate for Philippine Schools Overseas.
Prof. Gerson M. Abesamis, Senior Lecturer at the UP College of Education, then discussed ‘Blended Learning for Heritage Appreciation.” He explained that blended learning is a formal education program in which a student learns through delivery of content and instruction via digital and online media. He mentioned that in order for technology to be innovative, the learning process – including the student’s and teacher’s role – has to transform with it.
Mr. Benjamin M. Mendillo, Jr., Head of the Translation Division of the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) talked about “The Multi-Lingual Virtual Sentro Rizal and Mother-Tongue Based- Multi-Lingual Education (MTP-MLE) Development.”
Binanggit ni G. Mendillo na matagal nang umiiral ang MTB-MLE sa konstekto ng pagtuturo sa Filipinas. Hindi na ito bago sa mga Pilipino kung hindi pagsasapormal lámang at pagsasabatas sa mga panimulang gawain ng pagtuturo gamit ang Inang Wika.
Sinabi din niya na kung ang guro ay gumagamit rin ng Inang Wika, nagiging ganap ang pagkatuto ng mga mag-aaral na maalam sa Inang Wika. Nawawala ang takot ng mga bata sa isang talakayan na magbahagi dahil pamilyar sila sa lengguwahe o sa wikang ginagamit nila sa kanilang pamayanan. Kaya sa huli, nagkakaroon ng isang kaaya-ayang talakayan at diskurso ang mga mag-aaral dahil naisasadiwa nila ang paksa.
The morning session ended with an introduction about the 2nd Edition of the Virtual Sentro Rizal by Undersecretary Tirona. She explained that this VSR is a project of CFO and the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) that brings the traditional mode of appreciating the Filipino heritage into the digital age. It is a portable, multi-lingual collection (Filipino, Ilokano, Sebwano, Bikol, Meranaw, and Spanish) of references in DVD format which were selected across genres and regions. The translation of the texts of the VSR into Spanish was piloted to address the importance of cross-cultural understanding by making Philippine culture accessible to foreigners, and especially to the growing number of transnational diaspora youth born to Filipino marriage migrants worldwide.
Lastly, as PSOs are committed to enhance their school standards through accreditation, Dr. Adlai C. Castigador, Executive Director/ Operations Head of the Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities Commission on Accreditation (PACUCOA), discussed the “Accreditation: Quality Assurance in Philippine Education.” Dr. Castigador talked about the benefits of accreditation and the frame of reference for quality and assurance in education. For reference of PSOs, he also mentioned the different accrediting agencies/body in the Philippines and the process of accreditation of agencies under the Federation of Accrediting Agencies of the Philippines (FAAP).
The closing ceremonies included the awarding of certificates of attendance and the souvenir CDs containing the conference materials to the participants and sponsors. Each school also received a language map and a VSR 2nd Edition.
In behalf of the participants, Ms. Gracia Celia Guieb, School Principal of the International Philippine School in Shanghai, commended the organizers for the successful conduct of the conference. She mentioned that listening to the stories, concerns and efforts of other PSOs inspires her to do more since her school is very young. She added that the annual conference is the time when PSOs gather and learn together, which makes her truly grateful.
The dinner was graced with the musical performance of Leggiero Strings and Chamber Orchestra. The conference then ended with the raffle from the conference sponsors.
The conference was made possible through the sponsorship of the Rex Bookstore International, Inc., F & J de Jesus, Inc., C & E Publishing, Inc., Diwa Learning Systems, Inc., Jo-ES Publishing House, Inc., Phoenix Publishing House, Inc., Abiva Publishing House, Inc., Adarna House, Inc., Brilliant Creations Publishing, Inc., De La Salle - College of St. Benilde, H&D Information Technology, Inc., Enderun Colleges, Lyceum of the Philippines University – Manila, Vibal Group, Inc., WCC Aeronautical and Technological College, PhilHealth Insurance Corporation, and Pag-Ibig Fund.