14 years of helping Pulung Bulu public school attain UN Agenda 30
A POINT OF AWARENESS - Preciosa S. Soliven (The Philippine Star) - February 14, 2019 - 12:00am

ANGELES, Pampanga , Philippines – It was a bright sunny day inauguration of the Angeles Elementary School pilot March 8, 2004. Right after UNESCO Director General Matsuura called for “the Framework of Action for Quality Education” in the 31st General Conference of 2001 in Paris, I signed a MOA with DepEd Region III Director Dr. Vilma Labrador to pilot the Montessori Pagsasarili system at the Angeles Elementary School of Pulung Bulu. The EFA-Dakar pilot school inauguration was led by me as UNESCO Secretary General, together with then DepEd Secretary Edilberto de Jesus, OBMCI Chairman of the Board and Philippine STAR journalist Maximo Soliven, former BEE Director Juanita Guerrero, Bataan DepEd Division Superintendent Dr. Flordeliza Reyes-Magday, Angeles Elementary School principal Carol Patarata, Region 3 Director Dinah Mindo and Janet Lazatin (daughter of then mayor Carmelo Lazatin).

Findings of EDCOM ’90 regarding the weakness of our school system revealed a 40 percent dropout of Gr. 1 children caused by boredom and oppressive teachers. DECS expects minimum competency with a watered down curriculum. For 14 years the alternative curriculum of the Cosmic Organization used in the pilot EFA DAKAR project provided the solution.

APEID, an Asia Pacific cooperative enterprise for innovative education

As the Philippine UNESCO Secretary General then, I matched the project with APEID (Asia Pacific Education Innovation Development), a cooperative enterprise of 47-member states of Asia Pacific countries. It started in 1973 to undertake innovation in education.

During this conference, UNESCO-APNIEVE President Dr. Zhou Nanzhao, in the spirit of UNESCO debate, entertained my argument that such “development-oriented” educational innovation cannot be seen in subject fragments since education is a “process of becoming independent from infancy to adolescence.” Therefore, since the APEID goal is “sustainable development” it must not give importance to mere information but the lifetime transformation of the child.

2004 to 2014 - Region 3 directors, Pulung Bulu principals and teachers

From 2000 to 2003, my daughter Sara de Guzman and I, with the help of my senior teachers in the O.B. Montessori school branch of Angeles, Pampanga have trained and monitored enough teachers to handle two sections of preschool up to Grade VI. With two sections per grade level contained in one classroom, the population from 2004 to 2008 was roughly 300. By 2018 we had more than 700 children from preschool to Grade VI.

The EFA DAKAR pilot project for quality education was supposed to be the model for the public schools of seven provinces of Region 3. I am listing together the persons who made it work: Regional Directors Dr. Vilma Labrador (2001-2002), Dr. Dinah Mindo (2003-2007), Dr. Mario Ramirez (2008-2010), Dr. Teofila Villanueva (2010-2012), Dr. Riazalino Rosales (2012-2014), Dr. Isabelita Borres (2014-2016), Dr. Malcolm Garma (2017 to present), Angeles Elementary School Principals Estrella Fajardo (2001-2005), Carolina Patarata (2005-2010), Dr. Agnes G. Manabat (2010-2015), Ana Merla Magtoto (2015-2016) and Ofelia Canlas (2016 to present).

Man and the cosmic  organization

For so long a time learning was perceived as studying boxes or compartmentalized subjects of Math, Language, Social Studies etc. All throughout the 12 years of Basic Education including kindergarten the children had to endure memorizing endless chain of facts which they find out of context from life. The youth yearned to understand life to become self-sustainable. Instead they were condemned to depend on meaningless books and unexciting teachers.

Dottoressa Maria Montessori provided the comprehensive picture of man’s life in the Cosmic Organization. Man is in the middle of the cosmos with the three kingdoms of animals, plants and minerals (requires the study of Zoology and Botany). He is dependent on them for his material needs of food, clothing and shelter. His spiritual needs are religion, education and entertainment. To survive Man must care for the animals, plants and minerals. A Grade 1 Geography lesson – the ”four blankets” of planet earth are the land (lithosphere) the water (hydrosphere) and air (atmosphere). The fourth blanket is the biosphere or all the life on the land, water and air (awareness of pollution).

How families sustained themselves long ago

Long time ago, man was self-sufficient in all his needs. Father and mother educated their children. The father farmed together with his son. The mother did her house chores and looked after the baby, with her daughter helping her. Food and herbal medicines were produced from the fields. They built their houses from forest trees, while clothes were woven at home in the looms.

Not long after, the families became bigger. Countryside schools for mixed age groups of children were organized with one teacher as head of the school. Small community convenience stores sprang up. The village doctor had more patients. The mayor and his councilors were elected by the majority to help manage the town.

As the population grew, the demand for food, transport, schools, and others also increased. Many of the farmers left their farms to work in factories in the city. Larger schools were put up. Hospitals had to be set up.  New and wider roads were needed. At this point lesson on Taxation should start. Everyone was both a consumer of goods as well as the producer. Thus business grew. Lessons in Savings, Banking and Loans should follow.

EFA Dakar Pulung Bulu could have been a perfect model for K-12

The plan was intended to work out the continuum Montessori Pagsasarili Cosmic Curriculum in Basic Education and the corresponding retraining of the public school teachers. This project has been calendared to work out within the UN Millennium Development Goal of 2001 to 2015. The MOA concluded last year when we competed the so-called EFA DAKAR pilot from preschool to grade school successfully but could have been extended to reach Grade 6 to 12 but the constant changing of DepEd Region 3 directors prevented this.

(Part II – “The Cosmic Math, Language and Science”)

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