Incoming DepEd Secretary Sara Duterte should prioritize last mile schools — ex-chief

Incoming DepEd Secretary Sara Duterte should prioritize last mile schools â ex-chief

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President-elect Sara Duterte-Carpio, who is set to lead the Department of Education, should focus on last mile schools or educational institutions in far-flung areas, according to former DepEd Chief Bro. Armin Luistro.

"My own experience also tells me that any educational system that responds to the needs of those who are farthest, remote schools- the last mile schools...if you start on that, the rest of the education system will be able to change and be transformed in no time," Luistro said in an interview with CNN Philippines on Wednesday. 

He said this in response to a question on what advice he would give Duterte on her first day of office.

Last mile schools usually have less than four classrooms; do not have access to power and wi-fi, have few textbooks and incomplete sets of furniture; and are located an hour away from the town center. 

The DepEd, under the leadership of outgoing Secretary Leonor Briones, has a "Last Mile Schools Program" which seeks to transform makeshift classrooms into standard ones. The program will provide a minimum of four newly-built classrooms for each eligible school, among others.

DepEd is targeting to complete the construction of 599 last mile classrooms by end-2022 in its bid to bring quality education to geographically-isolated and disadvantaged communities. 

President-elect Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. earlier said that Duterte has accepted the Cabinet position of Education secretary. 

While Duterte has no formal experience in the education industry, her spokesperson Liloan, Cebu mayor Christina Garcia-Frasco believes she has "vast executive experience and keen knowledge of the challenges faced by schools, students, and parents having been Chairperson of the Local School Board for many years."

Asked about what he thought of Duterte's plan to pursue a mandatory reserve officers training corps (ROTC) program in schools and universities, Luistro said he recommends to "listen to the experts on the ground."

"They will be able to share with the new DepEd Secretary that on the ground, there are a lot of needs and priorities that are really more important than just the militarization of our schools, so to speak, but I will not close the door on that," he said. 

Luistro is now the 28th Superior General of the Brothers of the Christian Schools. As superior general, he holds executive authority over a 3,000-member congregation devoted to the mission of education. 

He led the Education department under the administration of former president Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, and is known for implementing the K to 12 basic education program, which added two years of senior high school on top of the typical ten-year program. 

READ: Luistro: K - 12 is Aquino administration legacy

Luistro is also one of the convenors of 1Sambayan, the opposition coalition which endorsed the presidential bid of Vice President Leni Robredo during the campaign period earlier this year. He previously led De La Salle University as its president from 2004 to 2010. — Angelica Y. Yang






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