A presentation of Valenzuela City's public education programs was met with praise by public school and local government officials from the cities of Iriga, Roxas, and Legazpi at a learning consultation entitled "Engaging the Community to Improve the Quality of Education."
Organized by the League of Cities of the Philippines, the online session showcased the community-based approaches of Valenzuela to support early grade education and to ensure public education remains accessible and effective despite the pandemic.
The event is part of the Cities' System Capacity Development (Ci-Cap) Project of the "ABC+: Advancing Basic Education in the Philippines," a partnership of USAID and the Department of Education implemented by RTI International. ABC+ aims to mobilize local governments and stakeholders to support and sustain improvements in reading, math, and social and emotional skills for early grade children (K–3) in Regions V, VI, and in the province of Maguindanao in BARMM.
Valenzuela City Vice-Mayor Lorena Natividad-Borja presented the "Education 360 Investment Program" which brings together all innovative education initiatives of the local government that are designed to deepen the involvement of the local community, the private sector, and non-government organizations.
These include "Valenzuela Live," a distance learning initiative that grants learning devices to students to help them continue their education online and the "Training for Teachers Teaching Camp," a workshop that trains teachers in crafting online learning modules in the new normal.
Another example is the "Nanay-Teacher Program" that trains parents to become home facilitators and partners of school teachers outside the confines of the school. According to Natividad-Borja, the program was created after discovering that many of the city's parents are looking for parenting trainings.
"Ang ginawa namin, nag-devise kami ng isang program kung saan kumuha kami ng mga magagaling na speakers na magtuturo sa ating mga magulang kung paano nila gagampanan ang kanilang mga responsibilidad," Natividad-Borja said.
The local government partnered with Synergeia Foundation—a nonprofit working to improve the quality of basic education—in the design and delivery of workshops for parents. To adapt to the new normal, the vice-mayor added that the program shifted to webinars that provided tips on how parents can better handle children's online learning.
"Tinuruan namin ang mga magulang kung paano i-handle iyong pag-aaral ng kanilang mga anak dahil nasa bahay ang mga bata. Ngayon, hindi lang si teacher sa school ang teacher, kundi pati mismo iyong magulang. Ang magulang ay nagiging teacher dahil ang eskwelahan ng bata [ngayon] ay wala sa pisikal na eskwelahan, kundi nasa bahay."
Marvic Martirez, Curriculum Implementation head of the Roxas City Schools Division Office (SDO), noted that Valenzuela's education programs gave meaning to the "essence of strong partnerships" which, she says, only happens "when each member of the [public school] system treats each other like family."
Meanwhile, Iriga SDO Superintendent Danilo Despi said that Valenzuela's efforts to change the landscape of education "is worth emulating and replicating."
"The partnership of the local government unit and the Department of Education to implement Education 360 Investment Program is very commendable. Education 360 is a very strategic approach in addressing the many gaps and issues in basic education in Valenzuela," he said.
Both Roxas and Iriga are part of the partner cities of the Ci-Cap Project and have been actively supporting the project's interventions that aim to enhance local investments for education.
Following the learning consultation with Valenzuela, the cities are expected to strengthen their capacities in allocating resources to develop community-based education programs.