Education Secretary Armin Luistro challenged DepEd officials from around the country gathered in Bacolod City yesterday to initiate reforms in basic education to ensure that real learning happens in the classrooms, and to tap the participation of the community to bring back the “lost sheep”.
Luistro was the keynote speaker at the DepEd’s School-Based Management General Assembly attended by more than 300 school officials at the Bacolod Pavillon Resort Hotel.
The SMB is a strategy where the school and community work together to improve learning outcomes, and where best practices and reforms are shared among schools in the DepEd system.
Luistro and DepEd Regional Operations Undersecretary Rizalino Rivera, while in Negros Occidental, conducted unannounced spot inspections of schools.
Luistro said his unannounced visits to schools, where oftentimes teachers are unaware that he is the secretary of education, has been the best decision he has ever made.
Beyond the papers and reports, the real reform happens when school officials walk the talk, move out of their offices, enter schools without ceremony and participate as quietly as possible in the center of where real change should happen – in the classrooms where teachers and students are engaged in learning, he said.
On Wednesday, Luistro said, he visited five schools in Negros Occidental unannounced and they were generally excellently run, although he also encountered some practices needing reform.
“I do this as part of my education to understand better the situations of schools,” he said.
Luistro said that since he became education secretary he has visited about 200 schools unannounced and has had surprises, frustrations and joys that have helped him in addressing the real needs of the school system.
“It is not about you or me, it’s about the learner, the child” and it is the principal who should lead in the reforms, he told the schools officials.
Luistro said that while about 90 percent of the country’s elementary and high school students are in school, there are still 2 million who are out of school.
He challenged the school officials to seek the participation of their communities to help bring these students back to the schools.
“Look for the lost sheep,” and bring them back to school, he said.
Luistro also explained that while the National Achievement Test given in March will be retained, by June, district and regional achievement tests will no longer be given.
“Three tests a year on top of regular testing in the classroom will make our children over-tested, we are trying to simplify things,” he said.
He also said by June a new curriculum will be implemented for grade 1 pupils and the new first year high school to be called grade 7.
There will be no extension of grade 7 in the elementary level, it will be part of high school, he said.
He challenged the school officials at the general assembly to think beyond the box to continue to come up with reforms to make learning in the classroom effective and a joy.
Luistro also cut the ribbon for the opening of an exhibit of best school practices around the country.*CPG