Legarda delivers P-Noy speech/Schools for forward learning

FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) - March 17, 2015 - 12:00am

Bad though the stories have been about some goings-on in the Philippines, President Aquino expressed optimism about the country’s commitment to disaster risk reduction. This was relayed by Sen. Loren Legarda who delivered, on the president’s behalf, the Philippine official statement at the 3rd United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDDR) in Sendai, Japan.  

“The Philippine Statement is a declaration of our commitment to disaster risk reduction. We share with the world how amid our vulnerability, the Philippines has been undertaking serious efforts to building resilience by adhering to the five priority action plans of the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA),” Legarda said. “As nations chart a new course for the sustainable and resilient future of a climate change-altered planet, typhoon-battered Philippines will take a proactive role.”

“The laws that we have enacted provided the framework and commensurate funding to build the resilience of Philippine communities through the mainstreaming of disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation in various phases of policy formulation, development plans, poverty reduction strategies and other development tools by all agencies of government,” she explained.

“This year, 2015, is a critical year for human survival as we take action on the inter-related issues of disaster risk reduction, sustainable development and climate change – agenda that have brought us together in Sendai and which will lead us later this year to the roads of New York and Paris,” said Legarda.

The Philippines, she said, is actively participating in drafting the successor framework to the HFA. At the 6th Asian Ministerial Conference on DRR held in June 2014, the Philippines, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, contributed to the Asia-Pacific Input Document for Post-2015 Framework for DRR by advocating for a more equitable distribution of responsibility to both governments and other stakeholders.

“We may be vulnerable, but we are not helpless,” said Legarda. “We are working towards managing and reducing disaster risks to address our vulnerability. We are grateful for the world’s support especially in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan, which has actually strengthened the Philippine government’s resolve to embrace the concept of building back better.  We will do our share to make the post-2015 framework an effective DRR blueprint for the next decade.”  

Legarda’s choice to read the Philippine statement was apt. A three-term senator, she has authored and sponsored many Philippine environmental laws, including the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010 and the Climate Change Law of 2009. She is the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) chairperson for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change adaptation for Asia-Pacific. 

The senator said the United Nations reported that economic losses from disasters are now reaching an average of $250 billion annually.

“Traditionally, private sector involvement in disaster management has focused largely on response and relief. But businesses have the potential to bring in core competencies for shaping innovative and sustainable solutions and therefore play a vital role in building resilience.

“Our call to the private sector is to put disaster resilience at the core of their business strategies.”

“We should consider disaster risk reduction not as a cost but a wise investment. UN and World Bank studies indicated that for every dollar invested in resilience and prevention, four to seven dollars is saved in response.

“The private sector can also look at how sometimes a greener approach can be a more resilient approach.

“Green building designs significantly reduce demand for energy, water and materials through ecologically sensitive design and maintenance practices. It can generate up to 30 percent in energy savings, reduce carbon emissions by 35 percent, reduce water use by 30-50 percent and save 50-90 percent in waste output.”

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In the immortal words of our national hero Jose Rizal, “Ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan.” It is to the youth that we pass on our responsibilities as citizens to continually forge a better future for our country. Accordingly, it falls upon us to ensure that they are equipped – both intellectually as well as emotionally – to do so.

Interestingly, as technology developed over time, so did the approaches to learning. We are currently at an advanced age wherein high-tech tools such as computers and the Internet can give us access to a world of knowledge with a single click of a mouse. While the instruments of education have undergone remarkable technological enhancements, the actual system and methodology of instruction itself has remained at a virtual standstill.

Our prevailing educational system — often referred to as “traditional schooling” — is heavily influenced by the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century. Given the existing zeitgeist, circumstances, and needs of the time, it made perfect sense to emphasize standardization and uniform learning. The goal was to churn out assembly lines of children who were taught in a linear manner, with emphasis on rote memorization rather than analysis. They were grouped according to their age and given a general routine in school with little to no daily variation. They were then given annual regimented tests to assess their worthiness to advance to the next level.

This method was quite effective during its time, and perhaps in the era before the digital explosion. Given the industries and opportunities of today, however, those who come from a cookie-cutter mold and are homogenous to everyone else have a tendency to just follow the pack. On the other hand, individuals such as Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg, Elizabeth Holmes, and Pony Ma have shown that lateral thinking, creative problem-solving, and big-picture visualization enable one to decisively lead the pack. 

Indeed, their success underscores a very important fact about school: no two students are ever exactly alike. Children have their own individual competencies and interests where they flourish and fields of interest where their capabilities shine. An effective learning method for one might be a confidence-shattering disaster for another. Placing them in a rigid and standardized educational structure that doesn’t allow them room to breathe — one that values only certain skills and regards others as unessential — might cause them to never realize their fullest potential.

Sandy Arellano, who runs the Pomona Learning Academy, put it in a very nice way: there needs to be formation beyond education. According to Sandy — who is definitely one of the most passionate educators around – untangling the threads of a concept by yourself leads to a deeper and more fulfilling understanding than when you simply learn through a textbook. The focus, therefore, should be to provide an educational method that makes a child feel empowered rather than constrained; one that instills the idea that learning is a continuous process that goes beyond the walls of the schoolroom. The mind does not stop working just because the teacher is no longer there.

Sandy’s schools, Montessori de San Juan and the Pomona Learning Academy, are a treasure trove of inspirational stories. Children who once struggled under traditional schools are now top performers – not because the standards are lax, mind you – but because the approach is different. More importantly, they develop a love for lifelong learning that they take with them for the rest of their lives.

So what’s the secret, then? “There is no secret,” Sandy almost amusedly explains. “Good academic performance is merely the natural result of a happy, motivated, and well-adjusted student. We simply focus on the cause, rather than the effect”.

To learn more about Montessori de San Juan and the Pomona Learning Academy, contact 725-6306 or 239-1102, or visit montessoridesanjuan.com.ph

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My email:dominitorrevillas@gmail.com


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