Good governance, education: Fuels for a better future
by: Harvey S. Keh
The Manila Times
Over the weekend, the Ate-neo de Manila University-School of Government and the Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership organized a leadership training program for local government officials from all over Luzon. The program, titled Champions for Education, was aimed at helping local government officials become more adept at addressing key problems in basic education among their constituents. Our main partner for this activity was SEAOIL whose company slogan, Fueling a Better Future, was certainly in line with what we wanted to achieve in this program which is to help build a better future for every Filipino child by providing them with access to quality basic education.
Through the support of SEAOIL, the program will also be brought to the Visayas this coming December and in Mindanao in February 2012.
Rice for education program
The keynote speaker for the training program was no less than Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo who in his 18 years as Mayor of Naga City made sure that education was a priority in his local government unit (LGU). Robredo shared several best practices with the participants of the program, most of whom were city and municipal mayors who were very eager to learn about these best practices that they could also implement in their own LGUs.
Robredo shared that one of the things that he did was to provide sacks of rice to families whose children are able to complete their attendance in school. This would discourage families from forcing their children to drop out of school since by keeping them there, this would already assure that the family would have adequate supply of rice every month. Robredo also added that this would also augur well politically since those that you gave rice to will not forget the help that you gave them through the years and thus, they will then vote for you to ensure that the program will continue.
Ensuring people participation in education
In addition to this, Robredo also emphasized the need to consult parents with regard to the needs of their children. He cited an example in which the school principal came up to him and asked for funds to renovate their covered courts but upon hearing this, a parent said that perhaps it would be good to use the funds to buy science books first before renovating the covered courts. With this experience in mind, Robredo then decided to reinvent the Local School Board in Naga City.
The LSB is co-chaired by the Mayor and the Department of Education’s (DepEd) Schools Division Superintendent. The main function of the LSB is to allot the Special Education Fund (SEF) which should be used to augment the DepEd’s budget to help improve the public schools. Most of the time, it is only the mayor who decides on how the SEF is to be used. In practice the SEF is often used to buy basketball uniforms and to organize sports events instead of using it to address the real needs of the schools which are books and other educational materials.
Robredo made sure that his SEF would be well spent by making sure that different stakeholders in the community such as the parents and teachers would be heard on how and where to spend the city’s SEF. Through people’s participation and proper consultation, the needs of the students are identified and addressed properly. The result is every year the national achievement test scores of the students of Naga City have consistently increased while the drop out rates have been minimized. These are done through transparency, participatory leadership and governance innovations that were introduced by Robredo.
Slow pace of Justice
Just last week, we read about the news of the killing of Fr. Fausto Tentorio, an Italian priest that known to have been a staunch advocate of promoting the rights of the indigenous peoples. While there is still much debate on why Fr. Tentorio was killed, what is really important right now is to ensure that the perpetuators of this heinous crime be immediately caught and punished with the full force of the law.
If there is one thing that has been a constant eyesore of our country in the eyes of the international community, it has been the very slow pace of justice here. The Maguindanao massacre is now two years old and yet, no one among those that have committed this gruesome act has been convicted and put to jail. Up until now, the killers of Dr. Gerry Ortega are still on the loose while just recently, Roy Bagtikan Gallego, a radio announcer from Surigao del Sur was gunned down on his way to his radio program. These extrajudicial killings will continue to grow unless our government will ensure that our law enforcement agencies immediately work on catching these criminals and our judicial bodies be swift to render justice to them.
This can only be done if corruption is minimized if not totally eradicated in our judiciary which up until now is still highly influenced by those who have power and money. Many of these hired killers continue to have the courage to go on with their unlawful actions because they know that they can get away with it. Enough with the bold statements and promises to curb criminality. The only way our government can instill discipline in each and every Filipino is to show all of us that crime does not pay by placing these criminals behind bars permanently where they belong.
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How’re Among Ed and Grace Padaca
by: Harvey Keh
The Manila Times
ALMOST every time I get invited to attend or speak at a forum or conference about good governance, youth involvement or leadership, I am asked by some of the participants on what two of our co-founders of Kaya Natin!, namely, Among Ed Panlilio and Grace Padaca, are now doing after they lost in their respective reelection bids in the last 2010 elections. Aside from continuing to go around the country to share their stories of good governance especially among our youth, both have remained very active in pushing their advocacies. Panlilio continues to be very vocal in challenging the present administration (whom he supported in the last election) to eradicate jueteng and other forms of illegal gambling in our country. In fact, Panlilio strongly believes that unless jueteng and illegal gambling activities are stopped, it would be very hard for reform candidates who espouse good governance to win in the coming elections. This was his own experience in Pampanga where jueteng money was allegedly used and continuously being used to buy votes and to perpetuate electoral fraud. Padaca for her part continues to be a staunch advocate of programs for persons with disabilities and for the protection of our environment. She was recently in Negros Oriental, North Cotabato, Davao and Southern Leyte to share her governance stories to student leaders in these provinces. In her talks, she has also made it a point to stress to our young Filipinos how important it is to participate in our electoral process and to push for clean and honest elections. Panlilio and Padaca are prime examples that fighting the good fight doesn’t end when one is no longer in government, as they led by example when they were local government leaders, they are now leading by example as private citizens that are actively participating in ensuring that our government lives up to its promise to promote good governance and leadership with integrity.
Public-Private sector partnerships
Last month, the Kaya Natin! Movement (KN) together with the Ateneo School of Government (ASOG) partnered with two companies to work together towards delivering better basic services to marginalized communities. MSD, a multi-national pharmaceutical company has partnered with us to help provide training to barangay health workers (BHWs) in Quezon City. The main aim of the program is to equip these BHWs with the necessary skills and knowledge that would allow them to educate women in depressed communities about the importance of maternal health. Aside from this, MSD has committed to produce Preganancy manuals that would be distributed to areas in Quezon City that would serve as a guide for women who are into their pregnancy. MSD is doing this as part of its commitment to help our country achieve the United Nation’s Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). Quezon City’s dynamic Vice-Mayor Joy Belmonte-Alimurung and QC 3rd district Rep. Bolet Banal are both partners as well in this innovative program that hopes to decrease the maternal and infant mortality rate in our country.
Another company that has also partnered with us is SEAOIL Philippines, one of the leading independent oil companies in our country. SEAOIL is working with KN and ASOG in a leadership development training program for local government leaders entitled, Champions for Good Governance and Education. The main aim of the program is to help local government leaders in developing responsive, effective and innovative education reform programs that aims to address the problems in our public education system. This is also being done in coordination with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and eventually with the Department of Education (DepEd). These public-private sector partnerships show that positive impact to marginalized communities can be greater if there is proper synergy and cooperation among stakeholders. More importantly, it also shows that our business community will be more than willing to work with our government leaders to address key social problems especially if these leaders are known to exhibit good governance and ethical leadership in their respective areas. In the end, our government leaders should realize that by practicing good governance, they will be able to attract more support from the private sector that will allow them to bring better basic services to their constituents.
Unity in sports
Although some of us were a bit disappointed when our SMART-Gilas national basketball team failed to win the recent FIBA Asian Championships held in Wuhan, China, we should still applaud the fact that for the first time in almost 25 years we finally made it to the semifinals of this tournament. This only shows that given proper mentoring and training, our Filipino basketball athletes can compete with the best in Asia. Kudos should be given to business leader Manuel V. Pangilinan otherwise known as MVP for investing much needed resources in SMART-Gilas. Aside from SMART-Gilas, MVP and his group of companies are also known supporters of the Philippine Azkals and our Philippine national Boxing team which I believe is really our best bet to finally bag that elusive first ever Olympic gold medal for our country. As we have seen this past year, sports continues to be a way to bring unity to our country. I hope that our government will eventually follow the lead of MVP and other sports patrons in investing in our athletes. Who knows maybe the upcoming 2012 London Olympic games will not produce just one Olympic champion but a couple more if only our athletes are given the world-class training that they deserve.
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