DFA Special Assistant Belinda M. Ante and CFO Usec. Mary Grace A. Tirona (seated L- R at the center) with the participants of the 11th Conference of Philippine Schools Overseas
As part of its efforts to provide quality assistance to overseas Filipinos and their children, the Inter-Agency Committee on Philippine Schools Overseas (IACPSO) conducted the 11th Conference of Philippine Schools Overseas. With the theme “The K to 12 Challenge – Enhancing our Competitive Advantage,” the conference aimed to arm Filipino educational institutions using the Filipino curriculum with the latest trends in the K to 12 as they also roll out the said curriculum with the end view of producing globally competitive graduates. The event was held on May 15-17, 2013 at the AIM Conference Center, Makati City and was attended by seventy-four representatives from 30 Philippine Schools in China, East Timor, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Libya, Oman, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates. An upcoming and newly-established school in Thailand also attended as an observer.
The conference was formally opened by the members of the IACPSO represented by Undersecretary Mary Grace A. Tirona of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO), Special Assistant Belinda M. Ante of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Director Vivian F. Tornea of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.
In her keynote speech, Usec. Tirona likened the Philippine Schools Overseas (PSO) to a diamond which has many facets for polishing. She said that PSOs should be well-managed to balance quality and survival; regularly attend the annual PSO conferences for pleasure with a purpose; maximize the competitive advantage of the PSOs by adapting to the K to 12 challenge; welcome the organization of the PSO Association of Principals and Teachers as community of offshore educators to respond to the need of quality assurance among peers; consider PSOs as incubator of transnationalism as they are an emergent platforms for skills and development; and engage the PSO alumni in the 21st century to test and taste the PSO success. She also stressed that everyone will not be around forever, thus everyone must engage themselves in strategic planning and design forward looking initiatives for PSOs.
The first plenary session began with representatives of selected schools sharing how they started the implementation of the K to 12. The panel was made up of Dr. Alexander S. Acosta, Dr. Ofelia F. Padilla and Ms. Jocelyn M. Sollano, principals of the Philippine School Doha, Philippine National School – Abu Dhabi and The Philippine School – Dubai, respectively. Dr. Mildred A. Go, Directress of the Manila Xiamen International School, a former PSO, discussed Quality Assurance and Accreditation Standards specifically international accreditation under the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme. Dr. Ma. Lourdes “Honey” A. Carandang, a well-known child psychologist, talked about the Child Protection – Current issues and Concerns.
Concluding the first day was the launching of the Kiddie Katapat Savings Program or KKiSS, the latest advocacy of the CFO together with its project implementor, the Land Bank of the Philippines. During his presentation, Mr. Roberto S. Vergara, First Vice President and OFW Remittance Group Head of the Land Bank, said the program aims to equip Filipino children and youth, both in the Philippines and abroad, with the basic knowledge and habit of saving and the value of preparing for their future. It is the CFO’s concrete response for child-friendly banking services and youth-oriented financial literacy.
The second day of the conference focused on the K to 12 program which was discussed by the resource persons from the Department of Education (DepEd). A comprehensive presentation of the contrasting features of the Basic Education Curriculum and the Enhanced K to 12 Basic Education Curriculum, as well as the teachers’ guides and learners’ materials were discussed by Dr. Marilyn D. Dimaano, Director of the Bureau of Elementary Education (BEE) and Director Jocelyn DR. Andaya of the Bureau of Secondary Education (BSE). It was followed by lectures on the Assessment in the K to 12 Curriculum by Mr. Abelardo B. Medes and Dr. Ma. Elsie C. Esmer of the BEE and BSE, respectively.
The second day ended with the launching of the PSO Culinary Arts Competition, “Luto-lutuan” by the CFO, in partnership with the Mama Sita Foundation, Inc. (MSFI), at the Aristocrat Restaurant on Roxas Boulevard, Manila. The contest aims to promote appreciation for Philippine cuisine as a form of cultural heritage conservation; develop a culinary skills transfer program for overseas Filipino youth on how to prepare Filipino traditional dishes and related adaptations, and showcase Philippine culinary arts history, indigenous glossary of related terms, expertise, products, and designs for global patronage, among others. The memorandum of agreement for the joint project was signed by Usec. Tirona and Ms. Clara Reyes Lapus, President of MSFI. The contest mechanics were also discussed in detail by Usec. Tirona to the PSO administrators and teachers. After the participants were treated to a sumptuous dinner at the Aristocrat Restaurant, each school representative was given a bagful of Mama Sita products which the students can initially utilize in preparing for the culinary competition.
On the third day, Usec. Tirona demonstrated the use of the Virtual Sentro Rizal, a digital Filipiniana collection composed of 151 works on arts and culture, literature, history, geography, and architecture, among others, developed by the CFO, in partnership with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). This is in compliance with RA 10066 – The National Cultural Heritage Law and Section 43 of the PSO Manual of Policies, Standards and Regulations which prescribes the establishment of a Sentro Rizal in overseas Filipino communities and the inclusion of multi-media Filipiniana materials in PSO libraries. It was followed by a PSO Teachers’-Training on Arts & Culture for Heritage Appreciation which was conducted by Commissioner Alice A. Pañares of the NCCA. The participants showcased their talents in singing, dancing and acting during the group presentations of their cultural heritage, to the delight of everyone.
The closing ceremonies included the video presentation of winners of the arts competition participated in by the PSOs in the Middle East and sponsored by the Philippine Embassy in Muscat. It was followed by the awarding of winners of the 5th annual literary contest sponsored by the IACPSO, in cooperation with the RBSI International, Inc. Students from the Philippine School – Oman and the Al Taj International School, who received a special citation and won second prize, respectively, personally received their awards. The third and first prize winners, Philippine School Doha and Durat Al Sharq International School, respectively, were not present during the awarding, but their plaques and cash prizes were received by the school representatives.
Certificates of attendance and the CDs containing the conference materials were awarded to the participants. Each school also received a complimentary copy of the Virtual Sentro Rizal which the faculty can utilize in teaching Social Studies, Music, Arts, Physical Education, and Health.
The closing ceremonies were graced by Dr. Dina S. Ocampo, the newly-appointed DepEd Undersecretary for Programs and Projects, the office that oversees the management and operations of PSOs. Usec. Ocampo, lauded the PSO administrators and teachers for their significant commitment to provide Filipino families who have chosen or who need to work overseas an option to study in PSOs which is recognize back home. She challenged the participants to continuously aim for excellence and quality education by ensuring that the children will go through the developmental stages of learning to learn better as one important feature of the K to 12 curriculum. Usec. Ocampo is hopeful that apart from the knowledge and new friends that the participants have gained after the three-day conference, they have also gained more confidence to continue doing the good things that they do and to improve those that they need to get better.
The conference was made possible through the sponsorship of the Abiva Publishing House, Adamson University, C & E Publishing, Inc., Consystent Solutions, Inc., De La Salle University – Manila, Diwa Publishing, Inc., Enderun Colleges, JO-ES Publishing House, Inc., Magallanes Publishing House, PhilHealth, Phoenix Publishing House, Inc., RBSI International, Inc., University of Asia and the Pacific and Vibal Publishing House, Inc.
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