Learning curve

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Sunday, December 2, 2012


I FIRST heard about the school in the ‘80s, when I was an organizer of the youth-student movement in Cebu. Carol, a fellow organizer, would talk about the members of the Student Christian Movement (or was it the Student Catholic Action?) of the Philippines in “IHMA” in Minglanilla town. IHMA stands for Immaculate Heart of Mary Academy.

I recalled that moment because IHMA recently celebrated its 48th year of existence. For an educational institution to survive that long, it must have done some right things. This point becomes even more significant if one considers the competitive setup in Minglanilla, a town where many privately-run schools have sprouted.

IHMAl, which is among the educational institutions in Cebu that is run by Augustinian Recollect Sisters, is located beside the recently controversial Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, whose church, painted pink, sits on high ground not far from the provincial highway. The school’s location and its name attest to its historically close links with the parish.

I have attended many of the school’s activities the past few years and in one of the major annual activities a familiar figure always comes to officiate the mass: Msgr. Esteban Binghay, the former parish priest of IHMP who is now with the Theotokos Archdiocesan Shrine in Perrelos, Carcar City. The Theotokos Shrine is atop the hill where the “dancing sun” phenomenon once caught the fancy of Cebuanos in the 1990s.

Schools run by religious orders have traditionally produced the better graduates because of their effort to constantly improve the learning process. That comes with a price, though, because tuition is a burden even to ordinary wage earners. But I have seen parents endure the difficulties just to make sure their children are given the best education possible.

The alternative is the public school. Interestingly, Minglanilla town has a “sci-tech” (science and technology) school both for elementary and high school that offers a relatively better quality education than the ordinary public institutions. I don’t know much about the high school sci-tech but the elementary school, which is located inside the Minglanilla Central School campus, has a few kinks in its instruction method.

While efforts have been done to address some of these problems, a few still remain like the use of two textbooks per subject (one required by sci-tech and the other required by the Department of Education schools division) that affects the teaching process. A teacher friend, whose child is enrolled in sci-tech, noted that if parents want their children to understand the lessons better, they should closely supervise them or hire a private tutor.

But there’s one institutionalized Department of Education (DepEd) activity that is commendable. I am referring to the holding of the annual “press conference,” a competition among student journalists nationwide. It’s a good training ground if handled properly and if done in tandem with the correct supervision of the school papers that these campus journalists are supposed to publish at least once a year.

After years of lecturing on “Editorial Writing” to press con participants, I now think it would be appropriate for DepEd to study the activity’s impact on the learning curve of public school students. Having a background in writing and other aspects of journalism work, after all, is an advantage when one leaves the campus and builds a life out of it.

(khanwens@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 03, 2012.

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