Murcia summit takes on public education problems

Mayor Gerry Rojas led the participants in signing the covenant of support for the improvement of public education in Murcia.
Mayor Gerry Rojas led the participants in signing the covenant of support for the improvement of public education in Murcia. MURCIA PIO PHOTO

More than 250 public school teachers, Early Childhood Care and Development Workers, Parents-Teachers Associations officers, barangay officials and local government officials of Murcia participated in the recent Murcia Municipal Education Summit at Resorts Negrense, Bacolod City.

Spearheaded by Murcia Mayor Gerry Rojas, in collaboration with the Department of Education, and supported by the Office of Negros Occidental Third District Rep. Francisco “Kiko Benitez”, the summit was facilitated by Synergeia Foundation to identify the problems and come up with measureable solutions to improve the performance of students in Murcia’s public schools.

Mayor Gerry Rojas delivered the State of Education in Murcia, a report which contained the enrolment and completion numbers, as well as the reading comprehension rates and nutritional status of students in Murcia’s public schools. He underscored the importance of nutrition in relation to the learning abilities of students, particularly pre-school children.

“When I attended the Synergeia forum in Manila September last year, I was so inspired by how other LGUs improved the level of their public education. Knowing that education is the top advocacy of Cong. Kiko Benitez, I was motivated to enlist his support in our efforts to replicate these improvements in Murcia’s public schools,” Mayor Rojas said.

“I also realized that education is not the sole responsibility of the teachers but of the entire community, including the LGU. This is a wake-up call for all parents, barangay officials and local government officials to contribute our share for the continued growth and improvement of our children’s scholastic performance,” he added. 

“The whole country is suffering from an education crisis. Based on international education standards, we are often at the bottom of the list of top performers. In terms of incidents of stunting, Western Visayas is number one in the country, while Negros Occidental is number one in the region,” pointed out former Negros Occidental Governor Lito Coscolluela, who is a member of the Synergeia Board of Trustees.

The World Health Organization defines stunting as impaired growth and development that children experience from poor nutrition, repeated infection and inadequate psychosocial stimulation.

“What is worrisome is that we are growing a generation of poorly fed and poorly educated children. One of the major sources of our revenue is the remittances from our OFWs. If this trend in education continues, the time will come when foreign employers will no longer hire Filipinos because we have retrogressed in our educational standards,” Coscolluela added.

He explained that, if a child is malnourished or stunted, he or she is permanently handicapped. The loss of capacity in the child’s developing brain cannot be recovered.

“Thus, our approach should be preventive. We need to help our children. We know there is a problem, and it is time that we confront this problem and work together to address this problem. And I am very thankful to Mayor Gerry Rojas for accepting this challenge to help the children of Murcia,” the former governor said.

The participants were clustered into several groups for the workshop, where they discussed the problems, and what they should do to address the problem. At the end of the activity, they summarized their outputs and signed a covenant to work on the solutions which they themselves crafted.

Synergeia Visayas Project Officer Edwin Nacionales and Synergeia Mentors former EB Magalona Mayor Diding Gamboa, former Silay City Vice-Mayor Jay Jalandoni, La Carlota Councilor Fini Jalandoni and Murcia First Lady Berni Rojas facilitated the workshop discussion.

“In our advocacy to improve public education, we in Synergeia have worked with hundreds of LGUs all over the country. You may notice that the facilitators in today’s activity are former and incumbent government officials. Even after our respective terms of office in government, we continue to be passionate in our advocacy for improvement in public education,” said former mayor Diding Gamboa.

He emphasized that nutrition and education is the concern of every person in the community.

“A malnourished child will not perform well in school, and this difficulty might discourage the learner from continuing his or her studies. If a student drops out of school, he or she will most likely become unskilled and unproductive. Without the skills and education to earn a living, he or she might turn to unsavory activities, which will eventually make him or her a big problem for the family and the community,” Gamboa explained.

Julito Feliciano, DepEd-Negros Occidental Assistant School Division Superintendent, lauded the public school teachers for doing their best towards improving public education, but the DepEd official admitted that much still need to be done.

“I hope each and every one of us will work towards achieving the measures we have come up with today to improve the performance of our public school students in Murcia,” said Felicano.

Mayor Gerry Rojas expressed confidence that, with the inputs from the workshop and with the participants’ covenant of support to further improve the nutrition and education of Murcia’s students, the collective efforts of all stakeholders can enhance the performance of Murcia’s learners.

“It is now in the hands of the Local School Board, thru Mayor Gerry Rojas and the stakeholders, to develop a measureable action plan to address the problems identified in Murcia. Rest assured that Synergeia will work with local officials to closely monitor the progress of the action plan, so that we can achieve our desired result,” said former governor Lito Coscolluela. (PR)


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