ROMULO TO PUSH RP AS CENTER OF LIFELONG EDUCATION FOR DEVPT

MANILA
, September 29, 2005
 (STAR) A POINT OF AWARENESS By Preciosa S. Soliven - Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, also the UNESCO National Commission Chairman, heads the Philippine delegation to the 2005 UNESCO General Conference in Paris this October together with UNESCO Secretary General Preciosa S. Soliven.

In his national policy statement on Oct. 6, he will present a draft resolution making the Philippines the Asia Pacific center for Lifelong Education for Sustainable Development.

The delegation includes Ambassador Hector Villarroel, the Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, DepEd Officer-in-Charge Fe Hidalgo, and Presidential Adviser for Culture Cecile Guidote Alvarez. Their alternate delegates are Culture Committee chair Carmen Padilla, CHED Director Ethel Valenzuela, Communication Committee chair Florangel Braid, Science and Tech Commissioner Mel Velarde, and Atty. Igor Bailen, second secretary for UNESCO. Meantime, Advisers are DepEd Region 1 Director Dr. Vilma Labrador and Region IVB Director Dr. Paraluman Giron, Marine Science Committee Vice Chair Dr. Virginia Cariño, and UNACOM Secretary Jo Escueta.

UNESCO Director General Koichiro Matsuura Redefines Education

Its 33 C/5 program continues its crusade to eradicate extreme poverty with a Framework of Action for Quality Education. This year, the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD) has been declared as a non-political counter offensive to global terrorism. UNESCO Director General Koichiro Matsuura has redefined education as a process that should go beyond learning the 3 R’s and instead should result in behavioral transformation. Education therefore has to be re-engineered to develop economic sufficiency among the 191 UNESCO member states of the world particularly in developing countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. DESD 2005-2014 will also reinforce the United Nations Millennium Development Goal.

The highlights of the 18-day conference will start with the national policy statements the various Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Departments of Education of the world will deliver in the Plenary Sessions. Secretary Bert Romulo will focus on inter-faith dialogue which President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo upheld in her address to the International Security Council meeting at the United Nations recently. The address was appreciated by the assembly particularly by UNESCO Director General Koichiro Matsuura who has focused his anti-terrorism campaign on "unity in multi-cultural diversity" since the September 11 disaster in New York.

The Commission I — Education will initiate the conference as per tradition between October 4-10 with a special roundtable discussion of Ministers of Education on October 7-8 on the theme Education For All. DepEd OIC Fe Hidalgo will sit here, assisted by me, as the Philippine Secretary General, and CHED Director Ethel Valenzuela, while Regional Directors Vilma Labrador and Paraluman Giron will observe. On October 7-10, Commission II - Social and Human Sciences will be meeting. By October 11-12, the Commission III — Natural Sciences as well as the Commission V — Communication will be held simultaneously. There will be a special roundtable for Ministers of Science devoted to Basic Sciences. Commission IV — Culture is the longest running session from October 13-18. Meantime, October 21 is the investiture of Director General Matsuura who ran unopposed for a second term.

What Is A Draft Resolution?

A Draft Resolution or DR is a proposal submitted by one or more delegations with a view to having it adopted as a decision of the General Conference. Most DRs aim to modify guidelines laid down in the draft programme and budget and are examined initially in the Commission. Some go directly to the Plenary when it concerns agenda items examined only in the Plenary. In each Commission, the bureau undertakes an initial analysis of the DRs and prepares the decisions to which they may give rise on the Commission’s behalf.

Our proposed Draft Resolution is the Recognition of the Philippines as UNESCO’S Asia Pacific Center for Lifelong Education for Sustainable Development and providing seed fund to support its initial operation. The Philippines adopted the EFA DAKAR "framework of action for quality education" focused on the Asia Pacific region underlying the following goals: universal access to education; quality primary education; gender equality; innovative teacher training and curriculum.

The Philippines will therefore play a special role in defining the unique education problems and needs in the Asia Pacific region through the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the Department of Education (DepEd). After formulating the various elements of the proposed center with SEAMEO INNOTECH Executive Director Linda Pefianco and DepEd Bureau of Alternative Learning System Director Carole Guerrero, Dr. Ethel Valenzuela led the team of observers that included Professor Virgilio Manzano of the UP Graduate School of Education, at the same time UNESCO Clubs and ASPnet Coordinator and UNACOM Coordinator Helen Balderrama in observing the Best Practices in alternative, distance learning, non-formal and formal training for lifelong learning for sustainable development in universities, high schools, elementary schools, and community learning centers in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

The DR believes that learning should be harnessed from ‘womb to tomb’ — meaning at all stages of human existence regardless of gender, religion, and social status. It also stresses that the emphasis of adult literacy in the Fifth International Conference on Adult Education held in Hamburg is a priority but it must be linked to the best Early Childhood Education as the launching pad for quality lifelong learning.

Executive Order

CHED, TESDA, and DepEd have the mandate to provide relevant, accessible, quality and efficient education as well as training in support of the development of Filipino manpower responsive to and in accordance with Philippine development goals and priorities. Furthermore, through the UNESCO National Commission, the Operation Brotherhood Montessori Center using its 40 years of innovative experience in teacher training and curriculum development from preschool, grade school, professional high school to college, will lead the promotional strategies for UNESCO member states to create greater awareness on the role of Lifelong Education for the Asia Pacific workforce.

The Philippine delegates will be carrying the special Executive Order endorsed by CHED Chairman Carlito Puno, DepEd OIC Fe Hidalgo, and TESDA Director General Augusto Syjuco to be signed by President Arroyo — designating OB Montessori as the Lifelong Learning Center in the Philippines to serve as the national laboratory of the Asia Pacific Center for LESD. In addition, the Center shall open its doors to the Asia Pacific Region for sharing of facilities, experiences, and technical assistance.

The legal premise of this include Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights declaring that "Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms." Article XIV Section VIII of the Philippine Constitution mandates the protection and promotion of the right of all citizens to "quality education at all levels" and the implementation of appropriate measures to make education accessible to all. Meantime, the UNESCO National Commission has the mandate to promote and popularize the mission of Education For All (EFA) by serving as a resource and training base for inter-country programs towards the education for all goals.

The Philippine Regional Center Encouraged By UNESCO Since 1990

In 1990, UNESCO Director-General Federico Mayor urged then DECS Secretary Lourdes Quisumbing to study the matter of the Philippines being an Asia-Pacific Center for Education. This could be specifically focused on the major Literacy program of the United Nations New Millennium Development Goal — Lifelong Learning. At present, there are only three regional centers existing in Asia — Japan’s ACCU (Asian Cultural Center for UNESCO), Korea’s APCEIU (Asia-Pacific Center for Education and International Understanding), and Australia APNIEVE (Asia Pacific Network for International Education and Values Education).

For the 32nd UNESCO General Conference, I, as the UNESCO Secretary-General and the UNESCO Education committee chairman, and SEAMEO-INNOTECH Executive Director Linda Pefianco strongly recommended that DFA Secretary Blas Ople include the following concept in his policy debate during his scheduled intervention at the Plenary Hall.

I became a member of the CRC delegation to Geneva in 1992. On the same year, the Philippine Senate ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Senate and Congress formed the Education Commission to survey all schools at all levels in the Philippines, I was appointed by then Education Secretary Isidro Cariño to be the Early Childhood Education expert in the technical team.

Half of my work as UNESCO Secretary General since 2001 takes me to Hanoi, Seoul, Jakarta, Tokyo, Shanghai, and Auckland, New Zealand where I have been promoting the Pagsasarili system of lifelong education for Basic Education. I also learned that it took Korea five years to become the AP Center for International Understanding. The UNESCO Executive Board which meets twice a year in spring and autumn has a big say in it.

The Outcome Of The Five-Year-Old EDCOM Attempt For School Reform

It took the Senate and Congress five years to discover the flaw of the Philippine educational system through the laudable Education Commission (EDCOM) formed by both Congress and Senate with a technical team of DECS officials, as well as public and private school educators. Then Education Secretary Isidro Cariño invited me to be a member of the Early Childhood Education group.

Thus, between 1990 to 1995, two major changes were made. The DECS was divided into three agencies. The DECS (now DepEd) was made to concentrate on elementary and high schools, as well as the Bureau of Non-Formal Education (now the Bureau of Alternative Learning System) to help adult school drop outs. Non-degree courses for industrial technology became the concern of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). Usually, this would be training courses that last from a few months, a year or two. The tertiary education or colleges and universities was placed under the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

The second change proposed was the drastic reform of Basic Education to resolve the appalling defects of elementary and high schools. These include the restoration of monitoring and evaluation of schools, the simultaneous transformation and upgrading of our poor teacher training institutions and the outdated curricula. The restoration of school principalship to academic supervision instead of the usual building maintenance concern of today’s principals. Finally, the inclusion of early childhood education or preschooling to the official educational ladder of the Philippines. This is supposed to resolve the major phenomenon of School Drop Outs among first graders in the public schools leading to more drop outs in the later grades until the sixth grade. Then, it is generally observed that approximately a million sixth graders fail first year high school entrance exams. Incidentally, one of the effective "no drop out" scheme used was the OB Montessori Pagsasarili system.

Intel Partners With UNESCO

Through The Philippine National Commission An exciting complement to the AP Center for Lifelong Education for Sustainable Development is another Draft Resolution, "Information and Communication Technology for Development" submitted by our Communication Committee Chair Dr. Florangel Braid. This will make the Philippines the coordinator of the program with Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.

UNESCO Science and Technology Commissioner Mel Velarde of Nextel recently linked INTEL to the program which is actually making use of wireless technology of E-Learning Public Domain for basic information on agriculture, entrepreneurship, health, etc. for marginalized communities. A few days ago at Makati Shangrila, Philip Leighton of Intel Asia Pacific sponsored the conference with the Commission of Information and Communication Technology headed by Secretary Virgilio dela Peña and assistant secretaries of DILG, DTI, DA, DOST, and TESDA. They responded with strong enthusiasm. Mr. Leighton will join our UNESCO conference in Paris to confer with the UNESCO deputy secretary general for Communication A.M. Khan and the delegation heads of the four ASEAN countries. The agreement forged will be part of the December Summit for Information in Malaysia.

(For more information or reaction, please e-mail at exec@obmontessori.edu.ph or pssoliven@yahoo.com)


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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