Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Robredo’s Legacy on Education as Local Governance Champion

By:  Gilbert M. Forbes
DepEd Quezon
posted 8/21/12 7:06 AM updated 8/22/12 11:10 AM

For the many, he is simply known as a DILG Secretary.  But his more than that.  Prior to his appointment to the Cabinet of Pres. Noy Aquino, he was an accomplished and respected local executive who has made a lot in Naga City's turn around.  He's by far an alternative politician.  A jewel among political leaders who profess and masquerade as champions of the people.  He is not only identified as local governance champion but as an education reform champion too.

The late DILG Sec. Jesse Robredo while on a school visit.
In one of the papers he presented entitled Reinventing Local School Boards in the Philippines, he described how governance reform efforts was able to bring about large-scale systemic reforms in a centrally managed public education system in Naga City.

Robredo’s love for education was illuminated further when he explained his wit on the importance of education in a speech he delivered during the 2011 DEPED NUEVA ECIJA EDUCATION SUMMIT with the theme "Bridging Education Resource Gaps Through Stakeholder Partnership," held on May 18, 2011 at Nueva Ecija Convention Center.

There he explained how Local School Boards (LSBs) can start initiating reforms by considering indicators at the local level such as the drop out rate, achievement level of children, availability of basic four services such as water and electricity in schools, teacher to student ratio and the quality of teachers, among other indicators, to guide the school boards in the allocation of financial resources. 

Emphasizing and explaining how politics often result to misuse of Special Education Fund (SEF), he called on that IT’S HIGH TIME FOR OUR SCHOOL BOARDS TO MAKE GOOD USE OF THE SEF FUND.

The value he attributes to education isn’t surprising because he believes other wise that participation rates in primary education by regions is inversely correlated with the incidence rates for food and overall poverty. 

He explained in his keynote speech that regions with the highest participation and cohort survival rates and lowest dropout rates showed lowest poverty incidence rates. Furthermore, according to the study (UNDP 2010), the correlations support the importance of adopting progressive approaches in fighting poverty and investing in primary education.  Such an approach raises the likelihood of accelerating the realization of the MDG targets.

As such, he is certain that investment in primary education is promising to reduce poverty.  For this, he said, there is much to be done.

According to Ched Azardon of MLE Philippines, in 2009 when mother tongue based multilingual education (MTBMLE) was still unknown, Mayor Robredo was the first to send a contingent to their first MTBMLE summer trainin.  "He openly expressed his love for the Bicolano language," Ched said on short tribute she posted on the group's account.   "When we went to Naga City for MTBMLE advocacy, he met us at the airport at 7:30am and later convened the city council to pass a resolution supporting MTBMLE," she added.

She narrated further that  she admired his deep concern for young pupils and his relentless efforts to empower the community. "What struck me though was his humility and perseverance in facing resistance from local education officials. That somehow inspired me to go out of my small world and engage with the system no matter what," she wrote.

This particular value that the late DILG Sec. Jesse Robredo gives to education isn’t surprising because for one, he has done significant gains when it comes to education in his turf, Naga.  In an article featured by beta.taopo.org, a web engine manned by a group of professionals of various discipline who believes that we can determine what we can change and how, former Naga  City Chief Executive is louded for the gains made by the city and its people.

Accordingly, the article says that before Jesse Robredo became the mayor, Naga City was an impoverished third-class city. All that changed when, in 1988, Mayor Jesse left his corporate job in Manila to run for mayor in Naga. He won, becoming the youngest person in the Philippines to be elected city mayor.

Both the mayor and the city have become multi-awarded, winning over 140 local and international awards. Among Mayor Jesse's personal accolades are the 2000 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service, the 1996 Outstanding Young Persons of the World (TOYP) Award, the Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines (TOYM), 1998 Konrad Adenauer Medal of Excellence as Most Outstanding City Mayor of the Philippines and the first ever "Dangal ng Bayan" Award of the Civil Service Commission.

He was also cited by Asiaweek Magazine in 1999 for transforming Naga City from a lethargic Philippine city into one of the Most Improved Cities in Asia. His program "Kaantabay sa Kauswagan" (Partners in Development) gave priority to the impoverished people in Naga, cited by the United Nations as one of the Top 40 Best Practices in 1996. The city piled on so many awards in the Asian Institute of Management’s Galing Pook Awards that, it was eventually elevated to the Hall of Fame.

In 2004, the city’s I-Governance program was chosen as one of the Global 107 Best Practices at the Dubai International Awards. The city was also a recipient of the United Nations Public Service Awards for applying information and communications technology in governance.

I-­Governance is essentially about making the budget and all the services, contracts, transactions, revenue collection, as well as names of accountable officials and employees of the city available to the public.

This is done either through the city’s website, www.naga.gov.ph or through a directory of sorts that the city government published and gave away for free to all the households and establishments in Naga.

Certainly, his legacy should leave an imprint and a signal to us that there is still a lot to hope for given the example held and left by the former DILG Secretary. 

It is a challenge for us all how we can find another gem, actually more gems among current public servants who remains unnoticed but whose genuine hearts and untarnished principles and dignity are just their main wealth.

Being the torchbearers of knowledge, we in the teaching, training and education world should follow the lead to insure that not a few but many likes of Jesse Robredo will come into being. 

Repeating the quote of Herbert Spencer which our beloved Jesse Robredo take note of, “THE GREAT AIM OF EDUCATION IS NOT KNOWLEDGE BUT ACTION.”

How do we take our actions then?

There could already be unknown individuals who are threading the same path as Jesse Robredo has traveled.  The main challenge is how to continue against all odds particularly those who are either misunderstood and thus unpopular and often regarded differently.

Usually, it happens, but once fellow men realized your good intentions and have seen the fruit of your labor through the help of the few who dare to believe, they will surely be our side.

Yes, not every one of us could be us great and popular or multi-awarded as Jesse Robredo, but we can certainly do our share which when combined, impact would be unimaginable.  There are simply lots and lots to hope for-- that this nation shall be great and so its citizens.

The time to take actions is now!

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