Gov. Arthur Defensor Jr. underscored the need to engage the community in addressing the learning gap of students, particularly in reading proficiency.
The provincial government of Iloilo, in partnership with the non-government organization Synergeia Foundation, Inc., conducted an Education Summit on July 19, 2023, at Casa Real de Iloilo to address the issues besetting the literacy and learning performance of students in the province.
The event was attended by officials from the Department of Education; Iloilo Schools Division Superintendent Dr. Ernesto Servillon Jr.; Vice Gov. Christine Garin; Board Member Jason Gonzales, chairperson of the Committee on Education of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan; municipal mayors from the 43 local government units; and school district supervisors; among others.
Based on the DepEd data presented by Synergeia President and CEO Milwida Guevara, only 27.80 per cent of Grade 3 students in the province are “grade ready” or able to read and comprehend in their respective grade level.
The governor recognized that fundamental issues such as nutrition especially among far-flung areas as well as the structural problem in the education system also affect the way a child learns.
These structural problems include the lack of classrooms to provide a conducive learning environment and the shortage of teachers.
One of the interventions according to the governor is engaging the family, the LGUs, and the private sector in improving the reading aptitude of students.
Defensor said family support is crucial in the reading process of a child, sharing that he learned how to read with the help of his mother.
He also lauded the initiatives of the LGUs in conducting and funding remedial and tutorial classes.
“We are committed to engaging the community to the fullest so we can fill the gaps…together with our barangay and family,” Defensor said.
The governor also assured financial support under the Special Education Fund to address the infrastructure needs of DepEd.
Defensor’s flagship initiative Bulig Eskwela sa Probinsya (BES PROBINS) Program provides support to the operation and maintenance of public schools.
The province, through the Provincial School Board, is also hiring 300 additional teachers and funding the construction of classroom buildings and teen centers.
“We will do everything that we can do to help DepEd and improve the learning status of our students,” he said.
After the summit, the governor said he would convene again the Provincial School Board to discuss the passing of a supplemental budget for additional remedial measures.
Provincial Administrator Raul Banias, who has been a member of Synergeia, stressed that the summit is also in line with the vision of Governor Defensor under his development thrust Movement for a Robust, Progressive, Globally Competitive, and Resilient (MoRPRoGRes Iloilo) which is to improve the quality of basic education specifically improving literacy and numeracy performance.
A workshop and action planning were conducted during the summit to seek the commitment of the local leaders and stakeholders to improve the educational status of the province.